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4 Cyber Monday credit card shopping tips

Sienna Kossman

It’s time to make a list, check it twice, and fill your online shopping carts on Cyber Monday.

In fact, Cyber Monday 2016 is expected to be the largest online shopping day of all time, according to Adobe’s 2016 Digital Insights Shopping Predictions. Adobe expects Cyber Monday will generate $3.36 billion in sales, up 9.4 percent from 2015. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales are expected to increase more than 10 percent this year, but overall, Cyber Monday will reign.

For many, the appeal of this online sale day is avoiding the crazy brick-and-mortar crowds on Black Friday and even Thanksgiving Day. About two-thirds of consumers believe the in-store sales aren’t worth dealing with the long lines and crowds, according to a Centrio Times poll.

In some cases, Cyber Monday online deals may trump in-store offers. For example, DealNews is predicting Best Buy Cyber Monday sales will be better than those offered on Black Friday, which is good news for those hoping to save on pricey electronics. Apple is expected to slash prices, and Amazon.com has been prepping for online sales all week leading up to today.

Overall, about 40 percent of Americans are expected to log on and shop today, according to Centrio Times estimates. If you are one of those shoppers, here’s how to make your own Cyber Monday more successful:

1. Decide in advance which rewards cards to use.
You may be able to score deals online, but your purchases can boost your credit card rewards balances, too. Before Cyber Monday shopping, compare your gift and purchase list – or even just the list of online retailers you want to shop – to the cards in your wallet.

Consider the following: Your purchases could qualify for a particular card’s cash back categories. Or, if you shop through a card issuer’s shopping portal, can you save more money or earn extra points? Or, if you put all your Cyber Monday purchases on a new rewards card, will that help you meet the spending requirement needed to earn a hefty sign-up bonus?

Regardless of what your card portfolio looks like, make a card use plan so you’ll be able to maximize reward earnings and overall savings.

2. Put your debit card away.
As online fraud rates rise, protect your bank account balance by relying on credit cards during Cyber Monday instead of your debit card.

Since the adoption of hard-to-counterfeit EMV chip cards began in 2015, online fraud attacks are up 26 percent in the U.S., according to a study by Forter, an e-commerce fraud prevention company. Global fraud attempts for online transactions are expected to increase 12 percent during this peak holiday shopping season compared to the same time last year, according to ACI Worldwide. The risk will be even greater in the U.S., as online fraud rates are predicted to soar 43 percent this holiday shopping season compared to 2015.

As many expect e-commerce sales to be an even larger portion of total holiday sales this year compared to last, online shoppers need to proceed with caution.

If your credit card information is compromised while shopping on Cyber Monday, it’ll be much easier to reverse any fraudulent charges that show up on your account as a result, thanks to card network zero-liability policies. You may have some fraud protections with your debit card, but credit card fraud resolution will likely cost you less time, money and headaches in the end. Rely on your cards to be safe rather than sorry – or worse, unable to access your money.

3. Shop trusted retailer websites – but not on public Wi-Fi.
While shopping online today, make sure you are logged onto a secure internet connection and on a trusted retailer’s secure website before making a purchase.

Fraudsters are already taking advantage of the vulnerable e-commerce space, so don’t make it easier for them to take advantage of you. Double-check retailer website URLs – have you landed on their legitimate website or are you on a site that looks similar, but is totally fake? Also, is there an “https” at the beginning of the URL, indicating encryption is helping to secure the webpage? If not, shop elsewhere.

4. Comparison shop after making purchases.
If after making a Cyber Monday purchase you discover a better deal on the same item elsewhere, don’t wallow in buyer’s remorse. Gather your receipts and see if the credit card you used has price protection benefits that would reimburse you for the price difference, matching the lower priced item you found.

Some cards from major issuers, such as Capital One and Chase, give cardholders 90 days or less to file price protection claims. If your Cyber Monday purchase is eligible, using this card benefit would be much easier than making a second purchase and then paying to return the first item, if that’s even an option. Rules and restrictions may apply, but it wouldn’t hurt to look explore this option. After all, every penny saved counts during the holiday shopping season.

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