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Get your money’s worth from unwanted Christmas gifts

These simple credit card hacks can help you save time and money on unwanted presents this Christmas.

Buying Christmas presents is a tricky business – especially if you're getting gifts for people you don’t know well, such as colleagues in a Secret Santa. While some people might be happy to swap or regift presents, there are times when you might end up with a small pile of duds beneath your worn-out Christmas tree.

Fortunately, there are also a few credit card hacks you can use to make sure you’re not paying for unwanted Christmas gifts in the New Year. Use this guide to learn about your options before and after you’ve gone Christmas shopping with your credit card. We also go through tips on returning unwanted Christmas presents and what to do if you’re the one who doesn’t want the gifts.

Get your money back with refund protection insurance

If an Australian retailer won’t give you a refund on your gifts, you could still be reimbursed with a credit card that offers complimentary refund protection insurance. This type of cover is usually offered for unused, eligible items you’ve bought with your credit card when the Australian retailer refuses to offer a refund.

But keep in mind that if the product is faulty, didn’t meet your expectations or you bought the same gift as someone else, you should be able to refund the item at the store. So it’s a good idea to check the store’s returns policy and your credit card insurance booklet to keep this process as simple as possible.

Compare credit cards with refund protection insurance

Rates last updated November 18th, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$195 p.a.
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$375 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Velocity Points and enjoy complimentary lounge passes, a domestic return flight and insurance covers.
American Express Platinum Card
$1,450 p.a.
Annual $450 Platinum Travel Credit, 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points and access to more than 1,200 VIP lounges worldwide.
American Express Platinum Business Card
$1,750 p.a.
Get 120,000 bonus points, platinum concierge, complimentary lounge passes, overseas travel insurance and luxury hotel benefits.
American Express Business Card
$109 p.a.
Earn Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on eligible purchases along with refund protection.

Compare up to 4 providers

Purchase protection insurance for lost or damaged gifts

Whether wanted or unwanted, sometimes gifts end up lost, stolen or accidentally damaged soon after Christmas. When that happens, you could get a refund on the cost of the item if you’ve paid for it with a credit card that offers purchase protection insurance.

Usually, this complimentary cover will be available for up to three months after you’ve bought an eligible item – although you may not be covered for unwanted gifts. The terms and conditions will vary from card to card, so it’s best to check your product disclosure statement (PDS) or call the insurance provider for full details.

Compare credit cards with purchase protection insurance

Rates last updated November 18th, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$129 p.a.
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes every year.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$199 p.a.
Enjoy 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $64 first year annual fee and 0% p.a. balance transfer offer. Plus, receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
NAB Low Fee Card
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, a 18 month balance transfer offer and special offers from Visa Entertainment.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Take advantage of purchase protection repairs or replacements on eligible items if they are accidentally broken or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 26-month balance transfer, $0 annual fee for the first year, complimentary travel insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$195 p.a.
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 6 months
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Save on credit card costs with half the annual fee for the first year and a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 14 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

Tips for returning unwanted Christmas gifts

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Every store has a different returns process but these tips will help you return any Christmas presents bought with your credit card:

Get proof of your purchases. This could be the receipts for your purchases, or print a copy of your credit card statement showing them.
Check the returns policy. This is usually on the receipt, or on the store’s website. See what the options are and if your purchases fit the requirements.
Contact the store. Visiting the store is usually the fastest way to return items. If you’ve bought your presents online, you may need to call or email the store instead. Let them know what you want to return and show them the proof of your purchase. They will then explain your options based on their returns policy.
Go through the store’s returns process. If you meet the requirements for a return, a customer service representative will be able to guide you through the returns process. For a refund, this usually involves filling out a basic returns form and presenting the card you used to pay for the purchase (as well as the item).
Contact your credit card insurance provider. If a store won’t refund or exchange an item you want to return, it’s time to make use of your complimentary credit card refund or purchase protection insurance.

What if I was given presents I don’t want?

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If you’re the receiver of an unwanted present, here are a few ways you can deal with it:

  • Talk to the gift-giver. If you’re comfortable doing this, let the person know that the present isn’t quite right for you. This gives them an opportunity to return it and get something you’ll really like.
  • Return it yourself. If it’s from a specific store, you may be able to return the item without a receipt. Even if you can’t get a refund, you may be able to exchange it or get a store credit, so check the returns policy or call the store and ask.
  • Trade it. If you can’t refund or exchange the gift, trading it with someone who will enjoy it means it won’t go to waste.
  • Sell it online. This is a growing trend in Australia, with millions of Australians saying they planned to sell unwanted gifts online last Christmas. Plus, making cash off your dud presents means you’ll still get some value from them.

What about gift cards?

Gift cards usually can’t be returned or exchanged for money once they’ve been bought. So if you or a loved one are unhappy with a gift card or already have one for the same retailer, consider giving it to a friend, family member or charity. With $70 million wasted on gift cards each year, this gives you a way to put that money to better use.

Picking Christmas gifts always comes with a little risk, so using these simple tips will help make sure your money doesn’t go to waste. But if you want to avoid this situation completely, you could also check out our finder gift guides for reviews and guides to the top trending picks for present ideas throughout the year.

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Pictures: Shutterstock

Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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