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Should you purchase an extended warranty?

Nontraditional warranties
Nontraditional warranties © Nada's Images/Shutterstock.com

You may find warranty coverage in unexpected places.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover all offer some form of extended warranty and may offer short-term accidental coverage as well. Usually they double the manufacturer's warranty, up to 12 months. When making a claim, you will need your store receipt and original warranty, and must follow their detailed submission guidelines. If you do plan to rely on your card for protection, make sure to read the fine print first and save all documentation.

Or, go with a homeowners insurance rider. You can cover a $1,000 item such as a camera or computer for around $10, and it includes accidental damage, says Greenbaum. Talk to your insurance broker about what the policy covers and whether deductibles apply.

Store policy might even offer some protection. For instance, Costco extends the manufacturer's warranty on televisions and computers to two years after the date of purchase. When Nachlis returned a malfunctioning computer he purchased there, "they totally swapped it out for a new one 12 months after, with no questions asked."

If you buy an extended warranty, keep it and the original receipt in a safe place, such as a special folder in your file cabinet, or taped to the back of the item, says Nachlis.

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