If you are not actively using a credit card price protection benefit then you are likely leaving thousands of dollars in cash on the table every year. Many top credit cards offer a benefit of giving you a price adjustment if you find a lower price either at the same store or anywhere else online or offlne. With the right card and the right strategy you can bring your savings to a whole new level.
1) Which credit card should you get for price protection?
My top recommendation is Discover. I strongly prefer Discover IT Miles. See my post:Best Credit Card - Discover IT Miles Travel Card - get upto $8k/yr based on $8k mnth spend. YMMV
My secondary recommendation is Citi (I like Citi double cash). My third pick is Chase for some cards (like Saphire), but it's not great. Many MasterCards also offer price protection benefits, but far inferior to the other cards.
Discover offers 90 day protection, works for Black Friday, out of stock items, eBay BuyItNow listings, and retailer coupon codes. It offers a limit of $500 per item, $2,500 total benefit per calendar year (every January the clock resets).
2) What strategy should I use to maximize price protection benefit?
Your goal should be to come as close as possible to $2,500 calendar year limit without buying unnecessary stuff. If you exceed the limit then just get another card to double that benefit.
Strategy 1 - Save your purchases until Black Friday
If your items will not go on sale during Black Friday then chances are they will still go on sale during Cyber Monday with same strategy applies. You can get a credit card price match even if item is limited quantity or impossible to find at any store - you just need the ad.
Strategy 2 - Buy at your favorite store and price match against ebay BuyItNow listings, Amazon 3rd parties, or questionable internet stores.
Many people will pay a premium to buy from Amazon to get quick and reliable Amazon Prime delivery. Whatever is your favorite retailer, you can continue to shop with them and pay whatever premium. Most people are not going to buy a product from an unknown store or a seller with no (or bad) ratings, even if they have a much cheaper price.
With credit card price adjustment you get the best of both worlds - reliability of your favorite store, and lowest price from a store you would never buy from.
Strategy 3 - it's all about base price, tax and shipping is irrelevant for price adjustments
Lets say you buy a product on Amazon for $100 that comes with free shipping and no tax. There is the same product at bestbuy for $80, but with $30 shipping fee and $10 tax. You can claim a price adjustment of $20, because credit card price adjustment doesn't take into consideration tax or shipping.
Strategy 4 - Save big on Large Screen TVs and high-end electronics
Large stores such as Amazon and BestBuy are authorized dealers of your favorite electronic products. Authorized dealers are mandated by manufacturers not to discount their products below certain point. You will often find many of the same products offered at deep discounts at stores you never heard of or with awful reviews. These stores are not authorized dealers and if you were to order from them then there is a good chance you will fall victim of some sort of fraud or headache. These stores are perfectly legit for price adjustments. Since these are large ticket items, that will make a meaningful difference.
Strategy 5 - Household improvements
So you are hiring a plumber to replace a water heater or a general contractor to install your kitchen appliances. He gave you a combined price for labor and installation.
Make sure that you get an itemized receipt of how much specifically was each appliance listing make and model.
Do a google shopping search for that model, and if that price is significantly lower anywhere (shipping and tax is irrelevant) then you got yourself a nice price adjustment.
Strategy 6 - out of stock items
If you have Discover then you can price match against an item that lists price but availability is out of stock. Take a screenshot of that internet page and it should work just fine.
Strategy 7 - gray/black hat
There are other strategies you can use for maximizing price adjustments, but I will limit my recommendations only to techniques that are fully within terms and conditions of the credit card companies and completely white hat. Staying above the fold is the best strategy for long term success.
3) What tools can help?
I don't believe in any price adjustment tools out there. They will all give you sub par results. Citi even has a PriceRewind service where it automatically searches for you. While that is convenient, doing on your own will get you larger savings. If you want to find a good price match then you have a few choices.
- Google Shopping. Just type the product keyword, and sort by base price from low to high. Filter out for new items only. You should supplement it with Amazon search, as often google shopping excludes amazon for some reason.
Google shopping is also great to help you zoom in on a product you want if you are still undecided. Look for products that have many store listings as those will most likely give you better price adjustment deals.
- ShopSavvy app. I find it useful in some cases, but still prefer Google Shopping+Amazon combo above.
- PricePinx.com. It makes it easy to add any product for monitoring to see if the price drops at that store. Works better than citi pricerewind since supports all stores. After buying any item I typically bookmark it with pricePinx and get notified if there is a drop.
I hope that helps. Happy savings!