The holidays are coming up, and for many of us, that means an increase in spending. While Black Friday is often seen as the “official” start of the holiday shopping season, many of us are already looking for good deals and trying to get a head start on gift buying.
One of the keys to smart shopping for the holidays is to use rewards credit cards to get the biggest advantage possible. It also makes sense to see what promotions your credit card issuer might be offering during the holiday season.
Tips for shopping with rewards credit cards
When you shop during the holidays, make sure you use a rewards credit card. You’re going to spend the money anyway, so you might as well rack up the rewards. Here are some tips for making the most of your credit card rewards:
Check rotating categories
First of all, find out which categories are paying out this quarter. Credit cards like Discover it (82/100) and Chase Freedom (Viewpoints score 83) often provide higher rewards opportunities on items commonly bought during the holidays and during the fourth quarter. Use the appropriate card to buy gifts in certain categories.
Choose cards with higher payouts
If you need to buy items that aren’t in the rotating categories, use cards with higher payouts. Barclaycard offers a Rewards MasterCard with a 2 percent reward on certain purchases, and you can get 1.5 percent cash back with purchases made with the Capital One Quicksilver card.
Look for extra promotions
Some cards offer special promotions during the holiday season. Citi offers a price match guarantee on all of your purchases made during the holiday season (Citi Forward has a Viewpoints score of 97), so if you buy now, and the price drops before the end of the holidays, you can get a refund for the difference. Look for other promotions, such as special discounts and coupons.
Many credit card issuers also have special partnerships with different retailers. Buy through Upromise, and you can rack up rewards for yourself, and earn money for your child’s college. Your credit card issuer might have a special online mall (Discover is known for this) with extra cash back and rewards when you shop. You can get bigger savings and bigger rewards by shopping these partnerships.
Don’t forget about rebate programs like Ebates. You can get cash back and access to special coupons on top of credit card rewards when you shop using these online money-savers.
Chances are that if you look closely, you will find plenty of extra deals and ways to earn rewards this holiday season. You can use the rewards to offset some of your costs.
Budget Right for Holiday Shopping
Don’t forget to budget right for the holiday shopping season. Great rewards shouldn’t be an excuse to overspend. Create a budget and stick to it. One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t end up in debt by using credit during the holidays is to save up ahead of time. Set aside money in a high-yield account before the holiday season. Then, shop with your credit cards. When the bills come, use the money you saved up to pay off your balances immediately. You’ll avoid interest on your cards, and get all the benefit of the rewards.