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We’ve all suffered that sinking feeling: You put a new disc into your Blu-ray player only to stare at a blank screen. You boot up your three-year-old laptop computer to find the dreaded blue screen informing you that your hard drive has crashed. Or you wake up to find that your refrigerator is leaking water all over your kitchen floor.
Worst of all? The manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
This means that you’ll have to pay for the repairs on your own, right? Not necessarily.
Many credit cards today offer their own extended warranty programs. If you purchased your now-malfunctioning item with one of these cards, you might be able to repair your damaged product for free, even if the manufacturer’s warranty has long expired.
Check the Fine Print: Your fist stop, should one of your prized appliances or electronic toys go on the fritz after their manufacturer’s warranties have run out, is to check the fine print that comes with your credit-card membership agreements. If you’ve long ago tossed those papers — as most of us do — don’t panic. Simply call the customer-service number printed on the back of your card. You can then ask an account representative if your card offers extended warranty protection.
Still in Effect?: If you find that your card does offer this benefit, you next need to discover if the protection will cover your damaged item. Different cards offer different versions of extended warranty protection. Some cards’ protection will last up to five years after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Others will only provide you with one additional year of warranty protection.
Make Sure You Used the Card to Purchase your Malfunctioning Item: Of course, your credit card’s extended warranty protection won’t do you any good if you didn’t use your card to purchase the item that’s currently on the fritz. If you don’t have the records or the memory to remember whether you used your card, call your card issuer again. That’s what that customer-service number is for.
Documentation: Make sure that you follow your card’s extended warranty program rules to the letter. Again, each credit-card issuer has its own regulations for such programs. Some might require you to send a receipt to verify that you used their card to purchase an item. Others might be able to verify your purchase over the phone. Some might let you use your extended warranty protection an unlimited times a year, while others will only allow you to use it up to a certain dollar amount.
Extended warranty programs are one of the best perks that come with top credit cards. If you have this protection, don’t be afraid to take advantage of it. But don’t forget to study the fine print first.