Last November, we let our readers in on one of our favorite dirty little secrets about Black Friday: Anyone can get almost anything at its Black Friday price well before Black Friday.

Why wait in this line when you can get your doorbuster sooner for the same price?
(Flickr / Kevin Borland)

In our post Get Those Black Friday Deals – Before Black Friday, we pointed out how savvy shoppers can use credit card price matching programs to avoid the crowds and score doorbusters early without leaving the comfort and warmth of their own homes. The gist is that if you know what the Black Friday price will be, and can offer proof of that price, select credit cards will refund you the difference.

If this sounds like an appealing strategy to you, then the best time to make sure at least one of those credit cards is in your wallet come November is right now.

Trust me, you didn’t want to learn about this time and money saving strategy the week before Black Friday, when it would be too late to get approved and for your card to arrive in the mail. Summer is the perfect time to apply. Plus, if the card you choose requires a minimum spend over three months, as so many of the better rewards cards do, your points will hit your account just in time to use them for holiday travel, saving you even more money.

Discover Price Protection

What you need to know:

  • Maximum refund is $500 per item, up to $2,500 per calendar year
  • You can only get a refund on up to 3 of any single item
  • You must use your Discover card for the entire purchase amount
  • The lower price must be published within 90 days after your purchase
  • Exclusions include jewelry, auto accessories, and digital downloads.

Brad’s Discover Credit Card Pick:

discover-it-credit-cardAll Discover cards come with Price Protection, and our pick right now is the Discover It Card, which comes with an intro APR of 0% for 14 months and 5% cash back up to $1,500 through September on gas station purchases, and 1% back on everything else. Another nice perk that comes with every Discover Card is a free FICO score printed on your monthly statement. There’s no overlimit fee, no annual fee, and if your payment is a couple days late your interest rate won’t take a hit.

How to submit a Discover Price Protection claim:

Call Discover’s customer service number, 1-800-DISCOVER, to start the claim process. You will need to send them a completed, signed claim form; the credit card statement showing the purchase; the sales receipt; and either a copy of the dated, printed ad or a signed statement from the store manager on store stationery with the details.

Citi Price Rewind

What you need to know:

  • The price difference must be at least $25
  • The maximum reimbursement is $250 per item, up to $1,000 per calendar year
  • The lower price must be published within 30 days after your purchase
  • Claims must be submitted within 90 days from the date of your purchase
  • You must use your Citi card for the entire purchase amount
  • You must register the item for Citi’s Price Rewind tracking
  • Citi Debit cards and Business credit cards are not eligible

The Citi Price Rewind Program also has a long list of specific exclusions, including jewelry, firearms and auto accessories, all of which figure into Black Friday to varying degrees.

Brad’s Citi Credit Card Picks: citi-hiltonreserve

In addition to making your purchases eligible for Price Rewind, the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card can help knock out some of your holiday travel expenses with two free weekend nights at Hilton Hotels all the way up to the Waldorf Astoria. The bonus also includes free HHonors Gold status, which includes free internet, room upgrade and free breakfast. The catch to cashing in on the free nights is that you must spend $2,500 within four month, but most families should be able to hit this pretty easily by charging common household expenses and paying the card off in full every month. There is a $95 annual fee, but you can always try to get it waived (and cancel the card if they won’t).

citivisasimplictysAlthough there aren’t any lucrative rewards associated with it, we also like the Citi Simplicity Visa, which offers 0% intro APR for up to 18 months. It’s a great card for big ticket purchases since the 0% APR can effectively allow you to finance them interest-free. Price Rewind works just as well here, of course. And with no late fees or annual renewal fees to contend with, it’s a solid option if the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card sounds like too much of a hassle.

How to submit a Citi Price Rewind claim:

Go to Citi.com/pricerewind to register your purchases. Citi will track the price on registered purchases with authorized retailers automatically, but it’s up to you to submit the refund request when they do.

If you found the lower price and Citi did not, check out the claim instructions here instead, which detail how to file a claim directly. You’ll need your receipt for the item, a copy of your credit card statement showing the purchase was made with a Citi card, and a legible copy of the advertisement showing the lower price.

In both cases, a refund must be requested within 90 days of the original purchase.

MasterCard Price Protection

What you need to know:

  • The lower price must be published within 60 days after your purchase
  • Maximum refund is up to $250
  • You are limited to 4 claims per account per 12 month period
  • Exclusions include jewelry, auto accessories, items advertised as special offers or “limited quantity”, and items placed on layaway

Brad’s MasterCard Credit Card Picks:

barclaycard-mastercardThe Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is a favorite of ours right now, offering 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. This card also offers 2x miles on all purchases, so the final tally on miles earned ends up at 46,000. And if that’s not enough, you also get 10% of your miles back when you apply them to travel expenses. All of that is worth about $500 in free travel, which can go a long way toward defraying the cost of your holiday travel. As I mentioned above, hitting a spending minimum without actually going into debt is generally pretty simple if you charge household expenses like gas, groceries, phone and utilities and pay the card off monthly. And yes, there is an $89 annual fee, but we’ve already discussed how to get around that, too.

us-airways-mastercardWe also like the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, which offers 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. That makes the barrier to entry for this card lower than it is for the Barclaycard for those who may be concerned about meeting the minimum spend that card requires. The trade off is that it doesn’t earn miles as quickly since it’s a straight up 1 mile per dollar unless you’re spending it on US Airways. But 40,000 is often good enough for two round trip domestic flights. It also has an $89 annual fee.

How to submit a MasterCard Price Protection claim:

First, call 1-800-MC-ASSIST to request a claim form. Along with the completed and signed claim form, you’ll also need a copy of the ad that shows the date, retailer name, product and sale price; your credit card receipt and credit card statement showing the purchase; and an itemized purchase receipt. If the product has a model or serial number, the ad needs to confirm that it matches the item you bought. You can find more details about exclusions and the claims process in MasterCard’s Guide to Benefits.

About Rebecca Lehmann

When not scouring the web for Black Friday ads, Rebecca helps the team keep an eye on Black Friday news and trends.