You know, charging your new laptop to your credit card might seem like a dumb idea now, but just you wait. Because you used your card, you’ll be singing a different tune next month when you trip and spill your decaf latte all over the keyboard. The reason is simple. As part of their campaign to win over today’s “excellent credit” consumers, America’s card issuers have begun offering some extensive protection plans on major purchases – and the plans are pretty impressive.
From building construction to facial reconstruction, credit card companies are swooping in to save their customers from fraud of all kinds and from purchases that just went wrong. And when it isn’t busy rescuing you, a credit card will reward you with discounts and bonus points when you make other major purchases. So if you’re planning on picking up any of these big-ticket items in the future, now’s a good time to consider paying for them with plastic.
1) Contracting work
If you want to add another bedroom to your home or if you need help patching up a leaky roof, charging the work to your credit card is a good idea. This way, if the project is botched or the contractor tries to cut corners on you, you’ll be able to recoup your losses. Since credit cards aren’t universally accepted in the construction industry yet, you’ll have to look for a firm that does.
2) Antiques, artwork and other fragile things
It takes just one clumsy move for your kids to turn a valuable heirloom into an expensive pile of dust, and that’s equally as true for other expensive purchases. You should always protect yourself when buying fragile, easily broken merchandise. The cheapest way to do this is to simply pay for these items with your credit card. You’ll be able to get a better warranty than the one the merchant offers, and if something ever happens, you can recover at least part of your money. Compared to the rates that insurance companies charge for their coverage plans, it’s a no-brainer.
The chances are good that your credit card also offers some sort of travel insurance as part of its benefits package. However, this insurance is nothing compared to the rewards you can earn by paying for your trips with plastic. For example, you can get two free flights just by signing up for a frequent flyer credit card. After that, you’ll earn bonus points every time you buy a ticket, book a reservation or rent a car. And if you get into credit card churning, you’re looking at a serious amount of free travel for just a little bit of work on your part.
4) Plastic surgery
It’s easy enough to start filing lawsuits when your breast augmentation goes awry, but where do you turn when both the company that manufactured your leaky implants and the clinic that installed them have gone out of business? That’s right – it happened to one British woman, and earlier this month she recovered her investment. Strange as it sounds, these kinds of plastic surgery debacles happen all the time – and if you’re ever stuck in one, your credit card could be your last chance to recover even part of your investment.
5) Online purchases
Look, online shopping is dangerous. Credit and debit card numbers are regularly stolen, en masse, from merchant databases. If a thief gains access to your debit account, they can bankrupt you in hours. But all they can do with a stolen credit card is rack up a bunch of phony charges that’ll be canceled by your card issuer. Under the CARD Act of 2009, consumers are only liable for $50 of fraudulent charges on a given credit card. Therefore, the only card numbers you should be punching into Amazon are the ones belonging to your credit account.
Credit cards aren’t the big, bad financial wolves that they used to be. These days, the insurance plans provided by your credit card can actually save the day if you’re ever fleeced into paying for a fraudulent service or faulty merchandise. So the next time you’re on the market for a fancy new laptop, don’t be afraid to charge that bad boy to your credit account. When it falls out of your briefcase and down two flights of stairs, you’ll be glad that you did.