Home is Where the Wallet Helps – Jack Hojnar

While the warm weather brings a welcome break from an unusually hard winter, it also reminds us of the home improvement items that have collected dust while we hibernated.

So whether you are updating a few old items in your home or beginning a complete makeover of your backyard, the credit card in your wallet can be as much help to your home improvement efforts as a trusted contractor.

Where to Start
Your credit card is more than a piece of plastic or a way to defer payments to some inevitable future date. In many cases, it contains several tools that can make everyday shopping better, especially when shopping to improve your home whether inside or out. These credit card tools, commonly referred to as benefits, come at no cost to you and are designed to provide you with ways to protect and manage your purchases.

Know Your Card
Every card is unique and every card has different benefits, depending upon what your bank provides. So contact you card provider – the phone number is typically on the back of the card – to learn exactly which benefits you have available.

Benefits that Help the Home Improvement Process
Many cards contain similar benefits or services but have different naming conventions. When you contact your card provider, keep this in mind.

Price Match / Price Protection / Price Guarantee
How often have you purchased something – let’s say a microwave for your newly remodeled kitchen – only to find it at a lower cost a few days later. Wouldn’t we all benefit from a coverage that provided us with the price difference? Some credit cards offer this type of benefit, known frequently as Price Protection. Simply, if you use your credit card to purchase an item and later you discover that item at a lower price, the coverage may refund you the difference. In many cases, Price Protection does not apply to online auction sites. Again, check with your card provider for specific terms and conditions.

Extended Warranties
How often have you bought something for your home, such as a new BBQ grill or lawn mower, and the sales associate asked if you wanted the extended warranty? Buying these additional warranties at point-of-purchase may not be the best plan since most credit cards provide such services automatically (read U.S. NEWS ARTICLE). In many cases items that are hard-wired or hard-plumed into your home are not covered under the benefit. Be sure to determine the Terms and Conditions associated with your card as they relate to Extended Warranties.

Product Registration
We have all purchased something that contains that silly Registration Card that often falls to the floor as we open the box of our new item.  And if it hits the floor it likely becomes forgotten material. Did you know your credit card might provide you with Registration Services? Why is this important in your Home Improvement project? Simple: Registering your new purchase – such as a computer for the home office you just built – affords you several types of protection services should something go wrong with the item. You can simply apply the Extended Warranty Benefit (above) as the original receipt will be on file. And know that something may go wrong as we talked about in last month’s blog (Staking Your Claim: Benefits Guide to Faster Recovery).

Concierge Services
How would you like a personal assistant to help you find the best price on a new shower head for your bathroom? Or how about being able to pick up the phone and ask your trusted aide to find a store near you that has the largest selection of arbor vitae for your new backyard remodel? With the Concierge Service, you have a personal assistant waiting to help you with just about any home improvement item you may need. And after you’ve finished planting those new arbor vitae, you can use the Concierge Service to book you some time at a local masseuse.

Be sure to work with your card provider to help you understand all types of protection benefits associated with using your card whether you are disputing transactions, searching for the best price, looking to file a claim or any number of items related to home improvement activities.