Even though you’ve only just recycled your pumpkins and turned your calendar to its fresh, new November page, it’s already happening.
Black Friday madness has arrived, three whole Fridays before the date itself.
But if Black Friday just isn’t your style, no sweat: You’re in good company.
And if you use this sweet credit card trick, you’ll still be able to nab the deals without all the hassle — and without waiting until the end of the month.
Talk about hacking the system, right? Here’s how.
How Price Protection Can Help You Get Black Friday Deals Early
This trick, courtesy of reddit user PedroDaGr8, is as simple as it is brilliant. And you likely have all you need to pull it off inside your wallet right now.
Remember that dense packet of cardholder benefit information you received last time you got a new credit card? In case you just glanced at it, shrugged and tossed it in the trash (don’t worry, we won’t tell), here’s some awesome news for you.
Many credit cards come with a free price protection service to help you get the lowest price on purchases made with your card.
That means if you buy something and then find it advertised elsewhere at a lower price, the credit card company will refund you the difference.
And that means you can shop early and still get Black Friday prices — no madness necessary.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Once the circulars for your favorite retailer come out, figure out which doorbuster deal you’re interested in. Save the advertisement — you’ll need it to prove the lower price to the credit card company.
2. Purchase the item before Black Friday (within your card’s given constraints — usually 90 days, but we’ll get to this in a second) and save your receipt. Note: You don’t have to buy the item from the same store it’ll be on sale at — you just have to make sure it’s the exact same item.
3. Happily eat your giant Thanksgiving meal and spend the following Friday hanging out with your family, watching football, hiking off the stuffing or whatever your favorite holiday pastime may be.
4. Once the Black Friday deal is live, submit your benefits claim to receive a check, voucher or account credit for the difference between the price you paid and the Black Friday price.
5. Try not to be too smug about your awesome credit-hacking skills.
Cool, right? But before you go crazy, there are a few specifics to keep in mind.
The Fine Print
First of all, make sure you buy the same product that’s going on sale. If you accidentally buy one that doesn’t go on sale, you’re going to be stuck paying full price.
To make absolutely certain it’s the same thing, go by the model number. It’s much more reliable than the product name or the picture!
Also, this might be obvious, but this strategy only works if your credit card offers price protection. Many companies do, but not all — and some only offer it on specific cards.
And keep in mind, some items and promotions might be excluded.
We’ve gathered the details for a few popular cards below, but bottom line: Call your credit card company for full eligibility details and terms before you commit to a purchase.
You don’t want to find out you’re stuck with full price after the fact — especially since you might not be able to make a return during the holidays.
This is probably the easiest offer to take advantage of — it’s available to all card members and excludes little aside from some computer components. Plus, Discover specifically confirmed to me over the phone that Black Friday deals are included.
Discover offers price protection within a 90-day window and will reimburse up to $500 per item, up to $2,500 per year.
Citi offers its price protection service, called “Price Rewind,” within a 60-day window. Its guide to the benefit specifically notes it includes “special promotions such as Black Friday or door buster sales.”
Citi’s system automatically searches an unspecified group of “hundreds of online merchants” to find better prices for you, but you can also submit a benefit request for reimbursement on a deal you find on a store’s website or in its circular.
Cardholders are eligible to receive up to $500 per item with a yearly max of $2,500.
Chase offers 90 days of price protection to customers with certain cards, including Sapphire and Freedom.
However, it excludes a number of items, such as cell phones, cell phone service plans, food, and seasonal decorations and costumes. Per a phone rep, the service covers Black Friday sale prices as long as they don’t involve a rebate, but you might want to double-check your card has the benefit.
MasterCard offers price protection on certain eligible cards — its Gold, Platinum and Worldwide cards, for example — within a 60-day period for up to $250 per item with a max of four claims per year. We were able to confirm that Black Friday sale items are eligible, so long as the entire purchase price goes on your MasterCard.
Interestingly, just about every price protection service excludes jewelry and boats, so if you were hoping to up your bling-filled yacht game this Black Friday, you might be in trouble.
They also generally exclude the cost of shipping and tax, and don’t cover price differences influenced by a rebate.
How to Make the Most of This Black Friday Hack
PedroDaGr8 also offered some helpful hints concerning purchase timing.
“I try to buy as close to [Black Friday] as possible,” they write, “because that allows me longer to monitor the price and then file my claim.”
Since most card companies only allow you to file your claim once, it can be to your benefit to wait as long as possible before making your purchase. That way, you’ll have ample time within your price protection window in which to find the lowest sale price.
PedroDaGr8 points out that Black Friday prices aren’t always the lowest you’ll find. Some doorbusters might go even lower if they don’t sell as well as expected, and TVs often go on sale at the beginning of the year to gear up for the Super Bowl in February.
If you wait until just before Black Friday, you’ll have until late January to find a lower price if your card gives you 60 days. Cards that allow up to 90 days of price protection will give you until nearly the end of February.
That said, if you see a Black Friday price you’re happy with and want the item now, you’ll still have reason to smile if you take the plunge early. You hacked the system — and you didn’t even have to interrupt your holiday weekend (or abandon your pumpkin pie) to do it.
Your Turn: Will you use this credit card hack to get Black Friday pricing before Thanksgiving?
Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.