PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When you buy a new appliance or high-tech gadget, should you pay extra for an extended warranty? It’s a tricky question, especially when it comes to big ticket items.

Here are some helpful tips to eliminate some of the guesswork when deciding to buy that warranty.

Amanda Smith doesn’t always buy warranties.

“I feel like every time I do get some warranty – when something breaks, it’s actually never covered, whatever I need,” said Smith. “So it’s hard to know the terms of what you’re getting when you buy these extended warranties for hundreds of dollars.”

Generally, a warranty is issued by a manufacturer and ensures the product you’ve purchased will be free of defects for a certain amount of time.

“I think most of the time what you’re actually buying when you go into an electronic store is a service contract even though it’s called an extended warranty,” said Michele Ashamalla, a shopping expert with Momlogic.com.

Ashamalla recommends checking the dates of the manufacturer’s warranty online. Chances are the original protection may overlap with an extended warranty. Also, experts say don’t rule out the protection from your credit card.

If you purchase a service contract for two years or past the manufacturer’s warranty, the credit card you use may give you that same year free.

Experts say these questions are what you need to consider:

  • Does the manufacturer’s warranty overlap with the protection of your credit card and the extended warranty?
  • Do they cover parts and labor?
  • Is it going to cost you to ship the product back for repair?
  • What exactly is covered?

Some do not cover accidents. There are some shoppers who extend a manufacturer’s warranty to make sure the item is free of defects.

“I always get the extended protection,” said shopper Elizabeth Vargas. “I bought a refrigerator and thank God I bought the extended warranty because otherwise I would have been really stuck with it.”

Take Best Buy for instance. For about 10 percent of the cost of your product, the company says its Geek Squad Black Tie service plan goes above and beyond your credit card, manufacturer protection or third party warranty.

“Geek Squad is partnered up through us and if anything does go wrong, we’re not going to direct you to some other company,” said Ashamalla. “You’re going directly here to the store or Geek Squad’s going to come out to your house and take care of whatever the issue may be.”

WalMart, Fry’s and Target provide extended service plans with varying levels of protection. So, experts say read the fine print carefully.

Many retailers give the option of purchasing an extended warranty even after you buy.

“Electronic stores are making a lot off of those service contracts and that’s not to say you shouldn’t buy them, that’s just to say that you should really think about them,” added Ashamalla.

Experts say one final thing to consider is exactly how much wear and tear you and your family put on the electronic devices you already own.

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