By Stephanie Miller


5 Min. To Read

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It’s already August, and fall semester is right around the corner. With school starting up any day now for many colleges, this means that there’s plenty to buy. And by using the right credit card for those purchases, you can save yourself a lot of heartache (and a lot of money) along the way.

Whether it’s your first year on campus or you’re a seasoned veteran, there’s plenty to buy and plenty to prepare for. Here are four ways that the right credit card can make those university purchases easier on your (or your parents’) wallet.

Sure, every store is advertising back-to-school sales right now. Whether you’re buying clothes, school supplies, books, or furniture, you can probably find someone touting a discount. But are these really the lowest prices you could snag?

Well, if you waited a few weeks – or even a couple months – many of these items would likely drop in price. Some will even drop substantially. If you’re buying things like textbooks, for example, prices on new copies are likely to plummet once classes start and students get settled into their courses.

By using a credit card with price protection, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can buy the books you need now, before classes even start, but also get the difference refunded when the prices drop in a few weeks. The same applies to everything from back-to-school clothes to dorm furniture, kitchen utensils, your new laptop, or even those new headphones you just have to have.

If you’re going off to college, you will need to stay in touch with the family. This means a cell phone, and maybe even a fancy new one (so Mom can ensure that you’ll call her every few days). You probably need a new laptop for taking class notes and writing reports, and what first apartment would be complete without a nice television?

There’s only one problem: young adults – especially those in college – don’t have the best track record with protecting their items. Things break, things glitch, and things might even flat-out disappear. The right credit card can protect you here, too.

If you buy with a card that offers loss/damage protection, that cracked phone screen, broken television, or stolen laptop might just be covered at no additional cost to you. If your new blender breaks a week after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, a card with extended warranty protection will have you covered.

So, what if you buy a bunch of exciting things for the start of your college year and you don’t wind up needing it all? Or that new piece for your apartment doesn’t fit? Well, you can take it all back… maybe.

Except that, in some instances, the merchant might not accept your return. Some merchants might have very strict return policies, especially around the start of the school year, and refuse to take your item back after a certain number of days. Your credit card can come to the rescue.

If you buy on a card that has return protection, you’ll be able to get your money back even if the merchant refuses. Each card has its own guidelines and requirements, as well as its own timeframe for returns, but cards with this type of protection can step in if you can’t otherwise get your money back.

Whether your college is 20 or 2,000 miles from home, chances are that Mom and Dad are eagerly awaiting your visits back. You might go back every other weekend to do some much-needed laundry and eat something other than Ramen, or you might only travel home for the holidays. Either way, your credit card can protect you.

If you drive home (or drive anywhere off-campus, really), your credit card might offer you free roadside assistance in case of an on-the-road situation. If you run out of gas, get a flat tire, lock your keys in the car, or just need a jump, carrying the right card in your wallet could mean fast – and free – assistance with only a phone call. That peace of mind makes those long drives back home even easier to make.

If you are flying back home to visit the parents – or just planning a Spring Break trip to Cabo – the right card can protect you there, too. You’ll often find that you get lost/delayed baggage coverage, trip insurance, and even complimentary bags/lounge access/priority boarding for being a cardholder.

There are many things to think about when preparing for a brand new semester, especially when you’re off to college. By carrying, and using, the right credit card, you can save yourself a lot of trouble (and a lot of money) along the way.

There are many things to think about when preparing for a brand new semester, especially when you’re off to college. By carrying, and using, the right credit card, you can save yourself a lot of trouble (and a lot of money) along the way.

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