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The national economy is still sluggish. No one’s getting pay raises. And experts expect gas prices to hit $5 a gallon by the Memorial Day holiday.
No wonder so many consumers feel the strain on their wallets. MasterCard credit card users, though, can find at least some financial relief through the online shopping portal MasterCard MarketPlace. This online mall provides eligible MasterCard users discounts on everything from hotel stays and car rentals to restaurant gift certificates, flat-screen TVs and golf clubs.
But is this online shopping mall worth it? Here are the basics:
To get started with MasterCard MarketPlace, MasterCard holders — you need a MasterCard credit card to participate — must sign up at the shopping mall’s online home. This is easy, and takes little time. You’ll have to provide your first and last names, e-mail address and MasterCard credit card information. You’ll also have to provide a password and username so that you can quickly log onto the site the next time you’re in the mood for some online shopping.
Once you’re registered, you can browse the many discounted items available to buy. These offers are tailored to your merchant preferences — if you like to golf, for instance, you’ll tell MasterCard MarketPlace. The online site will then list several discounts on golf balls, clubs and other equipment every time you log on — and your zip code.
The mall does have a wide variety of merchandise and experiences. According to the MarketPlace’s “About” page, the site offers products from 25,000 merchants in 19 categories, such as entertainment, travel, computers, electroncis, home goods and apparel.
You can sign up for one of two levels when you register with MasterCard MarketPlace. First, there’s the basic level program. This program offers discounts ranging from 5 to 20 percent off typical cost. This level is free for anyone who owns a MasterCard credit card.
The Premium level, though, is a different matter. Discount offers here range from 20 percent to 50 percent. This level also offers limited-time offers and exclusive in-store events. MasterCard holders who agree to pay a $29.95 annual fee can participate in this level.
On a recent visit to the MarketPlace site, CreditShout found discount offers from such retailers as Pottery Barn, Crate&Barrel, jcpenney and Brookstone. Canon, the maker of cameras, and Macy’s also had offers.
If you want to save some money, and if you are a frequent shopper, the MasterCard MarketPlace is a good choice. Even at the basic level, you’ll find plenty of bargains.
If you’re a true shopaholic you might want to pony up the nearly $30 annual fee. The discounts will be large enough, and the offers varied enougn, to make this relatively small investment worthwhile.