The holidays are coming up, which means spending extra money on gifts, meals, decorations, and travel for many of us. It’s an expensive time of year, but with some planning and savvy use of credit card rewards, you can make the holidays a little easier on your wallet by earning rewards that mitigate all the spending.
Figure Out Your Spending Priorities
The first step to saving money using credit card rewards during the holidays is determining what kind of spending you’ll be doing most. For example, if you have to take a long plane trip to see family or friends, you might consider a credit card with travel rewards. Or, if you’re hosting the festivities and will be cooking a lot, try a card that offers a perk such as cashback for groceries. Figuring out which type of spending you’ll be doing the most of will allow you to maximize your savings potential.
Check Out Store Credit Cards
Some retailers offer their own credit cards with perks that apply specifically to that store, like a small discount on your entire purchase or cash back or discounts after a certain spending threshold. You can use these cards for all kinds of purchases at stores you enjoy, saving you money as you go.
Redeem Existing Rewards
If you’ve spent the whole year racking up airline miles, hotel points, or points toward gift cards, now is the time to redeem them. Some travel reward cards have blackout dates that will keep you from using your points during the holidays, so avoid this pitfall by doing your research and reading the fine print when you sign up for a card.
Look for Sign-Up Bonus Offers
Many credit cards offer bonus offers at sign-up time. These offers typically require you to spend a certain amount on the card within the first three months of opening the account in return for points, miles, or even a cash bonus. These bonuses can help offset the cost of holiday spending or even give your holiday budget a boost.
Find Out If You Have a Rewards Portal
Many credit card companies offer online portals where you can earn extra points at different stores. By accessing these portals and using them for your shopping, you can earn cash back on holiday gift-giving purchases that you make anyway.
Be Credit Smart
This tip is important to keep in mind all year, but during the holidays, when you’re doing a lot of spending in many different stores, you should keep your data and information safe both in physical stores and online. When shopping online, ensure the site you’re using is secure by looking for the “https” at the beginning of the URL. Also, make a budget and stick to it, keeping your spending in line with what you can afford. And pay your credit cards off as soon as possible to avoid accruing interest or negatively impacting your credit score.
Check for Extra Perks
Aside from rewards like miles, hotel points, and cash back, credit cards can offer extra perks if you know where to look. For example, some credit card issuers work together with online retailers to offer free, fast shipping. This is especially useful for those last-minute gifts that you need delivered in a hurry.
The holidays can indeed get expensive, but anxiety about spending money doesn’t have to ruin the holiday spirit. With some research and attention to detail, you can find ways to save money or make back some of what you spend later in the year.