Wisely used, your credit card could help with your holiday expenses. The trick is to control your spending and to use your credit card “extras” to make your credit go farther.
First off, consider “zero liability.” Identity theft is a serious problem today and protecting your information is imperative. A credit card or cards that offer zero liability can be one step toward that goal. They allow you to quickly freeze your account if you have any hints that things are not right. With some cards, this protection is built in if the issuer detects purchases that seem out of step with your usual practices. The inconvenience that you might suffer if they are wrong in refusing a purchase on your card is nothing compared with the damage that can be done by a thief using your card.
If travel is part of your holiday plans, you can get collision damage insurance on a rental car at no cost. It is included if you use your credit card to pay for the rental, according to the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. Otherwise, you may be charged $10 to $20 per day for the insurance. Consumer Reports notes that rental companies can hold drivers liable for anything that happens to the vehicle during the rental period. If something happens to the vehicle after you have returned it to the rental company but before they have done their inspection, you could be charged for that damage. Using a credit card to complete the transaction before driving off the lot prevents such an event. Decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver coverage.
Visa credit card holders also have a pay-per-use option for roadside dispatch in the event of a problem. If you are stranded while traveling, you’ll save money with this option. For $69.95, you are assured towing, tire-changing, jump-starting, lockout service, fuel delivery or winching services.
Most credit cards offer perks such as a rewards program. That’s especially attractive during the increased shopping that most people do during the holidays. Look for such perks when you choose a charge card. Caution: Don’t let the fact that you get a small cash rebate on credit card purchases push you into buying more than you had planned. It’s too easy to let the shopping get ahead of you.