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Top tips to protect your cash

Category: Money
Author: Leanne Macardle
Updated: 16/03/2018

It's that bustling time of year when shoppers are focusing on getting the Christmas gift list sorted. This means many will be facing the mad rush of the high street, but it can also include getting gift cards or even using a credit card to buy high net worth goods. With this in mind, Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts, urges consumers to brush up on their rights, be wary of scammers and consider the best credit card deals to make their cash go a little further.

Gift cards

"Gift cards are a common Christmas present, but they will cause disappointment if they expire before use. Anyone buying a gift card would be wise to find out exactly when they might expire and make it clear to the recipient. As an example, Ticketmaster gift cards expire in one year, M&S gift cards are valid for two years and Amazon gift cards are valid for 10 years after the date of issue. Not only this, but if a retailer were to collapse, it's unlikely their branded gift card would be accepted anywhere else, turning it into wasted cash. Therefore, it might be simpler to give the gift of cash instead."

Know your rights on returns

"There may well have been some impulse buys over Black Friday; anyone who changes their mind will have around 30 days to return the item for a refund or store credit for most goods. It's important to check the returns policy of the store at the point of purchase to make sure you don't miss the deadline.

"It's disappointing that over half of consumers that approach a retailer for a refund, replacement or repair of a faulty electrical item get turned down, according to research from Citizens Advice. However, consumers are within their rights to complain to the seller, so they shouldn't be deterred. Consumers can return their goods within the first six months of purchase, as stated in the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

"Credit card customers have added protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act* which states that a service or items that cost over £100 can be refunded, as the card provider takes the same responsibility as a retailer would if things go wrong with the purchase. If shoppers don't use a credit card, they could still get a refund on their goods by approaching their bank under the chargeback scheme."

Be savvy when you spend

"Shoppers would do well to avoid using expensive store cards for their Christmas spending, as some charge as much as 29.9% APR, making it a potentially costly mistake to not pay them off quickly. Instead of using one of these cards, shoppers could consider a cashback credit card, such as the American Express Everyday Platinum Cashback card which pays 5% for the first three months. In addition, TSB will pay Classic Plus customers 5% cashback when they spend £100 until the end of December.

"Exchanging card points for vouchers or using cashback sites such as TopCashback can also be beneficial to savvy shoppers who hope to pocket some extra cash each time they spend."

Move debts

"Credit card companies are continuing to compete for balance transfer customers, so it's worthwhile for consumers to take advantage of the best deals on offer. Halifax are offering the longest interest-free deal for balance transfers at 41 months with a 3.18% fee, but borrowers who can pay the debt back sooner could opt for a fee-free option instead, with Halifax offering 25 months of interest-free balance transfers without a fee."

Watch out for scammers

"It's the perfect time of year for scammers to surface, on the hunt for consumers' hard earned cash, and with one in four of us falling victim to scams, it's important to be vigilant when on the hunt for a bargain. Contactless payments are more popular than ever before, with an estimated 98.9m contactless cards in the UK according to the UK Cards Association. Consumers concerned about card skimming could invest in a card blocker sleeve so they can have peace of mind that the card is protected from rogue devices.

"Above all else, consumers must be wary of giving away their details and use their instincts to protect themselves against scammers."

*Please note: Section 75 only applies if there is a breach of contract (e.g. the supplier doesn't ever send the goods to the purchaser) or misrepresentation (e.g. the description of the goods is misleading).

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.