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Get A Free Extended Warranty By Purchasing With A Credit Card

Published 4/29/08 (Modified 9/17/13)
By MoneyBlueBook

I'm not a big believer in buying extended warranties or purchasing extra service contracts, so I usually pass whenever I'm asked. This happens more often at big electronic retailer stores like Best Buy and the now defunct Circuit City, where they put in a concerted effort to convince unwitting customers to buy extra protection - that frequently is unnecessary. These stores stand to make a lot of money from selling unnecessary extended service plans that customers oftentimes end up never using. It doesn't really matter how big or small the item you're purchasing, the sales clerks alway seem to inquire if you'd like to purchase additional warranty.

One time I was at Best Buy to pick up something. The young sales lady rung up my purchase and asked if I would like to buy additional warranty protection for my item - a dinky little $15 Sony handheld FM radio - just in case it ever broke down or ever malfunctioned as she explained. I just stared back with a slightly sarcastic but incredulous look. Special warranty protection upgrade - for a simple $15 radio? Who in their right mind would pay $3 extra to insure a flimsy $15 piece of electronic? If it ever broke down I'd rather go and buy a newer model than get it repaired.

With Some Exceptions, Since Most Products Come With Their Own Warranties, It Usually Doesn't Make Sense To Purchase More Protection

The vast majority of the time you are better off not wasting your money on extended warranty protections. Most stores offer basic buyer protection for a month or more in the event the product is faulty or fails to satisfy after purchase. Thereafter, most products are covered by the manufacturer's own warranty program with time periods that range anywhere from a year to several years. Because the pace of technology innovation advances so quickly these days, most electronics become outdated and turn into ancient artifacts within a short period of time. For most electronic gizmos and gadgets, it generally makes little sense to ever pay for extended insurance or additional warranty protection. Since adopting a more frugal lifestyle, I've never chipped in money for extra extended warranties. I find them totally unnecessary for the vast majority of items.

However, there are certain items where extra warranty protection may be helpful for peace of mind purposes. For larger, more expensive merchandise like computers, laptop notebooks, plasma TV's, or even video gaming machines like the Xbox or Playstation, I might consider paying for extended warranty. Although in those cases, I would still be very hesitant at paying extra and probably wouldn't pay for additional coverage that exceeded 20% of the original purchase price. However, if I could get the extra extended warranty for free - that's a whole different matter.

I'm currently in the market for a new business laptop notebook computer. I've been scouting out local Best Buys, scribbling down model numbers and returning home to shop online. The model I have my eye on is the Dell Inspiron and fortunately it comes with a 1 year manufacturer's warranty. But based on my experience with laptops, they have a habit of breaking down after the 2 year mark so getting additional protection might be worth considering. However, I just don't know if paying $250 extra for a $1,000 laptop is worth the extra protection when I may simply end up getting a newer model down the road.

For Products That May Benefit From Extended Warranties, You Can Use A Credit Card And Get The Extra Warranty Protection For Free

Fortunately, some major credit card issuers provide free extended warranty benefits when you use their cards to purchase qualifying items. In most cases, the credit card program automatically tacks on an additional year to the product's existing warranty period, effectively doubling the extended warranty period up to the program limit for no additional cost. The major credit card companies, American Express, Visa, and Mastercard all offer their own complimentary extended warranty upgrades for items entirely purchased using qualifying credit cards.

Keep in mind, while most electronics like plasma TV's, laptops, desktop computers, Xbox, Playstations, Nintendo Wiis, and Blue-Ray players are covered, not all credit card purchases qualify for extended warranty extensions. While specific card terms vary, items generally excluded include motor vehicles such as cars, boats, airplanes; real estate and land; and computer software. To qualify for the credit card extended warranty protection, you'll need to keep a copy of your original purchase receipt. Generally after the product manufacturer warranty runs out, you'll need to contact the credit card company or issuing bank for a claims form and have them handle the cost of fixing and repairing the item. You should be prepared to submit your receipt and a printout of the original manufacturer's warranty. Upon receipt of your claim form, the credit card company will decide whether to repair or replace the item, or reimburse you for the value of the product,

Thus, in order to take advantage of the free extended warranty upgrades offered by participating credit card companies, you must:

  • Charge the entire amount of what you're buying on a qualifying credit card.
  • Register the product with the credit card company if this option is offered (usually this step is not required but it's recommended).
  • Provide a copy of the purchase invoice receipt and any credit card receipt showing you paid for the item.
  • Provide a copy of any additional service contract purchased and the original manufacturer's written U.S. repair warranty as supplied by the product manufacturer.
  • You must not cancel the card used to make the purchase and the card must still be active at the time of warranty redemption.
  • To file your warranty claim, you will have to verify the above and fill out a claims form provided by the credit card company.
  • Finally maintain the above record in your free credit report.

Here Are The Free Extended Warranty Upgrade Offers Listed By Credit Card Company:

1) American Express - Buyer's Assurance Plan - (Available with all American Express credit cards) - American Express offers the easiest warranty claims procedure and has the comparatively least restrictive time constraint. Under its Buyer's Assurance Plan, American Express will match the original warranty or extend the terms of the original U.S. manufacturer's warranty for up to 1 additional year on eligible purchases with warranties of 5 years or less. If you purchase extra service warranty or extended coverage on your own, the combined service contract and manufacturer's warranty period cannot exceed 5 years, or you will not be eligible for the Amex extended coverage. Thus, if you purchased an extra 1 year of service contract on top of the existing 1 year of warranty by the manufacturer, your total 2 year coverage will turn into a 3 year coverage under the Amex plan. With a 6 month warranty, Amex will match with its own 6 month period for a 1 year warranty. (View Amex Buyer's Assurance).

2) Visa - Warranty Manager's Service - (Available with Visa Signature Cards). The extended warranty benefit is featured primarily for the Visa Signature Card series but you should check with your specific card issuer as the benefit may be offered for other Visa branded cards as well. The Visa Warranty Manager Service offers the Extended Warranty Protection that doubles the free repair period under the original manufacturer's written U.S. repair warranty up to 1 additional year on eligible warranties of three 3 years or less when an item is purchased entirely with your eligible Visa card. Although registration is not required to qualify for Extended Warranty Protection benefits, it is strongly encouraged for peace of mind purposes that you send Visa your sales receipts and warranty information upon item purchase. By recording your purchase with Visa sooner than later, you won't have to search for critical documentation when you need it later on. (View Visa's Warranty Manager Service).

Visa also has a Purchase Performance Guarantee program that allows you to purchase yet more extended warranty, at a cost which is usually less than a store bought extended warranty or service contract.

3) Mastercard - Extended Warranty - (Available for Mastercard Platinum and Gold, as well as World Mastercard) - Mastercard's Extended Warranty doubles the manufacturer's warranty time period up to a maximum of 1 additional year. If however, the original manufacturer's warranty is already for more than one year, no additional coverage will apply. This limitation also applies to self purchased additional service contracts and additional extended warranties that add more than one extra year on top of any existing manufacturer's warranty. Such extra warranty additions beyond a year will void any additional Master Card coverage.

Thus, for example: If there is a product manufacturer's warranty of 1 year and you buy an additional 1 year extended service contract for a total of 2 years, Master Card will extend your warranty to a total of 3 years. But if the product manufacturer's existing warranty was 2 years, or if there was no product warranty at all and you bought an extra 2 year service contract for yourself, the credit card company will not offer any extended warranty coverage. (View Mastercard Extended Warranty).

4) Discover - Unfortunately, Discover Card currently does not offer cardholders any extra warranty coverage for products purchased using its cards. It's a shame because they really should, especially if they want to stay competitive with the other more popular credit card companies.

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