Have you ever fallen victim to what I call the “Santa Claus syndrome?” This is where you feel that you’ve purchased all the Christmas gifts for your friends and family but then, at the last minute, get overcome by the desire to just do “a few more gifts.” Almost all of us do this when we get caught up in the spirit of the holidays. If this syndrome strikes you, then before you know it, you’ve suddenly racked up a whole bunch more charges on your credit cards.
You’re not alone
If you get caught up in the holiday spirit and end up spending more than you had budgeted, you’re not alone. Last December, holiday shoppers charged up more than $851 billion in credit card debt. But, believe it or not, the holidays could be one of the best times to use your credit cards due to the many perks that these cards offer that can be very helpful, especially for those big purchases.
Charge your electronics purchases
One good way to use your credit card is to charge your electronics purchases – assuming the card includes an extended warranty. Many credit cards will double the normal one-year warranty given by manufacturers. However, you do need to read your terms and conditions carefully because they vary a lot from card to card.
When you’re shopping for a bargain
Some of the high-end credit cards such as those from Citi and Visa come with a price-protection feature. This is where the credit card company may give you a refund if you find an item at a lower price than something you’ve already bought. You may not find this with standard cards, but they are often a part of Platinum or Gold cards.
When you buy products online
An act called the Fair Credit Billing Act protects credit card purchases by making it easier for you to dispute charges if something you buy online arrives damaged or doesn’t show up. This act ensures that the credit card company gets involved if you challenge those charges. It’s also a good idea to use a credit card for large purchases. That way, if an item arrives damaged or is defective, you can withhold payment. This gives you leverage to handle issues with the merchant.
To make a challenge
In the event you feel that you received a broken or defective product, you can’t challenge unless the purchase was for at least $50. Also, you need to contact the merchant and make an effort to resolve the issue before you get the credit card company involved.
Cards not to use
The one type of card to not use during the holiday season is a department store card. It can be tempting to sign up for one because you are almost always offered a big discount when you do so. However, these cards tend to hav e very low limits and huge interest rates. They often come with penalties for late payments, too. Also, if you open too many cards, this can actually hurt your credit score.
The best plan of all
No matter how you use your credit cards during the holiday season, the best plan is to pay off your balances each month. Or failing that, pay them off as soon after the holidays as possible. That way, you’re taking advantage of all possible discounts without having to pay any interest.
When debts go wild
If you’ve overused your credit cards and have other unsecured debts that are haunting you like that ghost from Christmas past, our debt relief providers can help. We’re so sure we can help you become debt free in a reasonable amount of time that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the debt consolidation plans you are offered, you can cancel out of the program and pay nothing.
Call us today for more information and let us help you put that ghost to rest.