You Don’t Need to Pay an Annual Fee for a Credit Card With Great Shopping Protections
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Update: Citi has announced most of its credit card benefits and protections will end on September 22, 2019, including some of the benefits or protections explored in this story. For more details, see this story. Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi® Double Cash Card, Citi Rewards+℠ Card, Citi Prestige® Card
The credit card that you use matters, not just for the points or miles you can earn but also for the protections it provides. Protections usually fall into two categories: travel and shopping. TPG has many articles describing the travel protections — including trip delay and baggage delay protections — offered by select credit cards. But today we consider two no annual fee cards that provide excellent shopping protections.
Citi provides the best shopping protections of any major card issuer. So, I always use a Citi card when purchasing something where I might need one of the benefits — even if this means that I forgo bonus category earning offered by another credit card to do so. But, these protections aren’t only offered on Citi’s premium credit cards. Even Citi’s no annual fee credit cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Citi Rewards+ Card offer excellent shopping protections. Here’s what you need to know about the shopping protections offered by both no annual fee cards.
Price protection refunds you when you purchase an item and then find it at a cheaper price shortly after your purchase. The Citi Price Rewind system actively searches for a lower price at hundreds of online merchants when you register an item you’ve recently bought with your Citi card. The Price Rewind benefit that comes with the Double Cash and Rewards+ cards refunds the price difference, up to $200 per item, when an item you purchased drops in price within 60 days of purchase. You can be refunded up to $1,000 per calendar year.
Although the Price Rewind system tracks price drops, you don’t have to rely on the Price Rewind system to find a lower price — you can also submit advertisements for lower prices that you find. I’ve filed numerous Price Rewind claims and found the process to be easier than one might expect.
Many items, especially cell phones and other electronics, tend to fail just outside their manufacturer’s warranty. Luckily, the Double Cash Card and Rewards+ Card offer Extended Warranty Protection that adds an additional 24 months onto the manufacturer’s warranty. The total coverage period can’t extend more than seven years and Citi can choose whether to repair the item, replace the item or reimburse you up to the purchase amount or $10,000, whichever is less.
Damage and Theft Protection repairs or replaces an item that’s damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase or delivery of the item, whichever is first. The coverage provided by the Double Cash and Rewards+ cards is for up to the purchase amount, but coverage is capped at $1,000 per incident and $50,000 per year. The coverage is secondary as well, so you’ll need to file with any other insurance policies first.
Having buyer’s remorse about a recent purchase but the retailer won’t take the item back? Both the Double Cash and the Rewards+ feature Return Protection that will refund the item’s purchase price, up to $300 per item (and $1,000 per year), if you attempt to return an item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back.
Unlike the other shopping protections, this one only covers you if you purchased the item in the US or a US territory. The item must be in “like-new and good working condition with all the original parts” and Citi may request that you send them the item if it approves your claim.
It’s impressive that the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Citi Rewards+ Card both offer protections in all four major shopping protections categories without charging an annual fee. The Double Cash earns 2% cash back on all purchases, so it isn’t a bad primary card if you value the simplicity of cash back and don’t want to pay an annual fee. But, even if you have other cards that you generally use to maximize your points and miles earnings, the shopping protections alone make having a Citi credit card with these shopping protections in your wallet. And, if you don’t want to pay an annual fee to have access to these protections, the Double Cash Card or Rewards+ Card are excellent choices.
Once you have a Citi card that offers shopping protections, then you need to remember (1) to use the card when purchasing something that you might need shopping protections for and (2) the details of the protection, including exclusions and time frames.
If you get the Double Cash you’ll still earn 2% cash back on these purchases, while the Rewards+ will only earn 1 ThankYou Point per dollar spent for most, if not all, purchases for which you might need shopping protections. The signature benefit of the Rewards+ Card — rounding up to the nearest 10 points on all purchases — is mostly helpful on small purchases. But, forgoing more solid earnings on larger purchases where you might need shopping protections will easily pay off if you’re able to use these protections to get a broken item repaired for free or receive reimbursement when you find a cheaper price shortly after a purchase.