Check credit card perks before you shop

Flickr user 401(K) 2012

(MoneyWatch) There's only about a week left to do your holiday shopping, which means that many of us -- especially me -- will be busily making up for lost time over the next few days. Recently, though, I got a good reminder about why it's important to use the right credit card for your holiday purchases.

On the personal finance blog WiseBread, Elizabeth Lang recently recounted the tale of her two-year-old microwave oven purchase. Apparently, despite due diligence on the research front, the oven stopped working nearly a year out of warranty.

After researching the fix and discovering it was too costly to be worth doing, she was ready to give up on the purchase. But then she remembered that her credit card offered an extended warranty on purchases made with the card.

Lang had used an American Express card to buy the microwave, a card which includes this special feature:

Extend Your Warranty -- Extended Warranty can extend the terms of the original U.S. manufacturer's warranty for up to one additional year on eligible purchases with warranties of five years or less, when the eligible purchase is charged to the Card.

According to Lang, she only needed to complete a short form on the American Express site and then, a few days later, she was fully credited for the original purchase price of the oven.

Moral of the story? If you have several credit cards to choose from, as many of us do, be sure to check the special features of your cards and keep an eye out for extended warranties and similar perks. If you have one, be sure to use your extended warranty card for any large purchases, especially during the holidays. And when things do fail, don't forget to check and see if you're covered by your credit card. It can save you a ton.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user 401(K) 2012