Thursday, January 07, 2010

Take advantage of credit/debit card shopping discounts

An often-overlooked source of discounts for a variety of retail, travel, and entertainment purchases just might be as close as your wallet.  While not widely publicized, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card have collaborated with popular merchants to offer you substantial savings on items such as rental cars, movie tickets, and electronics.  One fantastic discount is the two for one Visa deal with Fandango, the online movie ticket purveyor, which is worth about $11.  Suddenly, the bite from going out to the movies does not seem so big.  Not a fan of the movies?  How about $5 off an order of $50 or more at  Interested, now?

Do not kick yourself for not thinking about these sources of discounts before.  Honestly, when was the last time you looked at Visa's or MasterCard’s website specifically for special discount offers?  For many, looking at their own credit card’s website is difficult enough to stomach with the high annual percentage rates charged and all.  Moreover, there may be a good reason why you might have to hunt a bit to find these discounts.  Discounts bring people into the store, but someone is absorbing that reduction in revenue.  The great thing about these “built-in” discounts with your credit card company is that they are attached to the card you would be using anyway, and they can be for the same amount or more found in membership-only clubs that can cost about $30 to join.

A few caveats, and there are always some, is that your specific card may not be eligible.  For example, to take advantage of Visa's discounts, you need the "signature" card.  But, with four card companies, chances are you carry a card that participates in these savings programs.  Also, if you make a purchase using the card online, and have to pick it up in person (such as a car rental), you need to be sure you bring the card with you.  Otherwise, it may be denied.

If you are having trouble finding a specific merchant discount on the aforementioned credit card sites, try performing a standard Google search with words like "[company name] + discount."  You should also check out a site called RetailMeNot that aggregates coupons and savings, too, specifically offered by credit cards in the form of both promotion codes, and occasionally printable format.