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Shopping Demystified

In our "Ask It Early" series, "Early Show" consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen answered shopping questions submitted by viewers.

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Frank from New York asked Koeppen: "The department store want to the give me a 10 percent discount if I sign up for their credit card. Is it worth it?"

Koeppen's answer: It sounds like a great deal. I just got an offer the other day for 30 percent. I turned it down. It could be a good idea if you shop at that store a lot and you're going use that credit card, but if you're the type of person who is going to get these cards, get the discount, close the card and you're doing it at every store -- say you do it five times in one day -- it actually can have a negative impact on your credit. And then if you're looking to buy a house or get a loan for a car, there can some ramifications. So unless you think you're really going to use that card and you need that 10 percent discount, I wouldn't do it.

It sounds like a great way to save 10 percent or even 30 percent, like that, but you have to think long term. What are the ramifications of opening up this credit card?

Susan from Texas asked Koeppen: "Is it worth buying a warranty when you buy a new appliance like a washing machine?

Koeppen's answer: If you're buying a digital camera to a washing machine, they always say, "Do you want a warranty?" Most cases, you really don't need it. Products are made really well. Products change style. I mean, think about how many computers you buy and toss on a yearly basis. And sometimes the repair bill is going to be the same price of what the warranty would be.

Also, if you buy something with your credit card, most credit card companies extend your warranty by say a year. So if it comes with a one year warranty, they'll extend it to two.

David from Texas asked Koeppen: "When I see these going out of business sales, are they just trying to move merchandise or is that really a true sale?

Koeppen's answer: Here's the deal. Yes, it's a sale and they're trying to move merchandise, that's for real, but you really immediate to shop around. Sometimes it's really not the best price. In some cases it's a liquidator who has come in, and their goal is to get the merchandise out, but they want to make as much money as possible. So maybe you're going to get the best deal, so you should shop around. Also consider the fact that if you buy something and the store is going out of business, maybe you can't return it.

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