A few weeks ago, our super-fancy high-efficiency washing machine stopped working. No problem, right, since it was still within the one-year warranty? NOPE. We had bought it during the year we were renting (the house we were living in had a washer and dryer, but the washer was...suboptimal, so when we found a good deal, we bought the set we were going to buy once we moved anyway. So the washer was about a year and a half old when it stopped lighting up, beeping affectionately, and water-wisely washing our clothes. (Terrible timing, too, 'cause it happened while we were in the thick of landscaping, and every day meant a new set of horrendously dirty clothes. So maybe it was more than a few weeks ago. Whatever.)
We're still irritated that a year-and-a-half-old washing machine would break down -- and especially that it would break down to the tune of FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS ($265 for the part and $125 for labor, plus tax) -- but what softened the blow was Steve figuring out that we paid for the washer on our Costco American Express card, and one of the card's benefits (aside from a percentage back on all purchases) is an extended warranty. American Express will double the length of any manufacturer's warranty up to a year. It took us a while to figure out how it actually works, but in the end, we determined that it's not actually a warranty in the sense of them sending someone out to fix your broken item; rather, you have to get a repair quote or actually get the repair done, and they will reimburse you up to the price you paid on the card for the item. If it's not fixable, they'll give you back what you paid. (Oh, and they require a copy of the receipt, the credit card statement on which the charge appears, and the manufacturer's written warranty. Fortunately that's one area in which we are really organized -- perhaps the only area in which we're really organized -- so it wasn't too difficult to track those documents down.) We lost some time trying to figure out how the warranty would work and what we needed to do, but eventually we got the washer fixed and pretty quickly thereafter received a check to cover the repair cost.
We've always been big fans of our American Express card, but this benefit reaffirmed our love. As stores like Target and Lowe's have started giving discounts (generally 5%) for using their own credit card, we've started using those cards (paying them off every month, of course), but the washing machine incident made us realize that it's important to pay for anything with a warranty on a card that has this valuable benefit.