PayPal offers holiday price matching, other buying perks

PayPal jumps into the holiday spirit, offering price matching and free return shipping for anyone who buys gifts and other items using their U.S. PayPal account between November 1 and December 31, 2012.

The deal extends to purchases made online or in-store using a PayPal credit card or the company's in-store mobile payment service that rolled out in late 2011. PayPal is even extending its price-matching deal to airline tickets, which could save a few bucks for anyone traveling across the country this holiday season.

But as with all rebates and mail-in deals, PayPal's price-matching and return-shipping offers come with a few catches you'll want to be aware of before making your purchase.

Price match

PayPal will match the price of any item you buy with your PayPal account if any other retailer advertises the same item at a lower price within 30 days of your purchase date. The price-matching deal also extends to airline tickets if you find a lower price for the same flight within seven days.

But as I said earlier, the devil is in the details: PayPal caps your price-matching refunds at $1,000 total and a maximum of $250 per item for the promotional period.

PayPal holiday offerings 2012
PayPal holiday services

To get your price-matching deal, you have to send PayPal your original purchase receipt, a copy of the advertisement showing the lower price, and PayPal's Money Back Request Form.

Also, the lower price has to be a regularly priced item: close-out, auction, and sale prices don't count and that includes doorbuster prices on Black Friday. However, eBay “Buy-It-Now” prices are eligible (Pay Pal is owned by eBay).

PayPal says it will accept a printed or online advertisement as proof of the lower price as long as the advertisement includes “a description of an item identical to the one purchased, the sale price, the store or dealer’s name, and the date(s) the sale is in effect.”

For airline tickets, PayPal will only accept lower prices if you find them in a printed advertisement or an online advertisement from the carrier's Website. So it looks like flights found on Expedia, Orbitz, or other airline ticket deal sites are a no-go. The flight advertisement has to show “the identical flight number and date of departure to the one purchased, the sale price, and the date the price is in effect.”

PayPal says you have to file your money back request within 10 days of seeing the printed advertisement. In other words, you must send in your price-matching form within 10 days of the date printed on the ad. Finally, you are not eligible for PayPal's price-matching deal if the retailer you originally bought the item from also has a price-matching offer.

All price match refunds will be credited to your PayPal account.

For more details about the offer, including items ineligible for price matching, check out PayPal's price-matching terms and conditions (PDF).

Free return shipping

If you buy something online with your PayPal account and need to return it, PayPal says it will cover the cost of return shipping if the retailer doesn't already do this.

To get started, you'll need to get a return authorization form from the retailer, fill out PayPal's return shipping request form, and then wait for PayPal to send you a prepaid shipping label.

PayPal says it will send your prepaid label within five days after you file your claim. If you don't get your label in time, PayPal will refund the shipping cost to you, paying it directly to your PayPal account.

Return shipping refunds are capped at $100 and $25 per item during the holiday period. Check out PayPal's terms (PDF) for more information.

PayPal this holiday season is also promoting its new credit-based “Bill-Me-Later” service launched in mid-October. This allows you to delay payment (with financing) for six months on any purchase worth $99 or more.

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