Using credit cards at Christmas

Credit card purchases give consumers extra security should things go wrong. Christmas is the time we all spend more than we should and sometimes what we buy does not arrive, goes wrong, or is an out and out fraud. That is why it is safer to use credit cards.

Christmas is usually a very expensive time of year, and while putting the bulk of your spending on a credit card may not seem like the best option, especially if it means starting the year saddled with debt, there are some benefits in doing so.

First of all, your purchases will be protected if you bought any presents costing more than £100, so if the company fails to deliver your goods, you can at least get your money back.

Secondly, if you take out a balance transfer credit card in the New Year, you can transfer your Christmas indulgence balance to a 0% credit card, allowing you to pay off the debt in instalments without any interest added on.

If you budget correctly and are able to stick to your repayment plan on schedule, then doing so could make Christmas less of a financial burden.

If you have a cashback credit card, you can get rewards for buying the things you already planned to.

Items which cost more than £100 are protected by what is called ‘section 75’ rights, which means the credit card provider must refund you in full if the retailer refuses to do so or goes bust.

Of course, these refunds only apply to goods that were faulty or fraudulent - not to things you just did not like.

Fewer people know there is a separate right called ‘chargeback’ to get your money back, even if the item costs £100 or less, or you pay by debit card or prepaid card.

What are your rights to return a purchased item?

If you order something online or over the phone you have an absolute right to return the item, as long as you do so within 14 days of receiving the item.

You do not need a reason. You must return the goods and normally pay the postage.

Get a receipt of posting from the Post Office. The supplier has to refund your money within 14 days, but you may not get back the delivery costs.

The retailer can make a deduction if the goods are not as new. This right only applies to ‘distance sales’ – telephone or online purchases – not to shop purchases.

Stick to your budget and make sure you have a plan in place to pay everything back on time to avoid interest.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland