Using Credit Cards to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

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Like many other industries, it’s been a tough year for credit cards. But card issuers are still hoping to end this year with a strong holiday season. This means that there are currently many great offers for holiday shoppers. As the holiday shopping season draws to a close, it’s not too late to take advantage of your credit cards to save money on purchases, interest charges, or both.

Using Credit Cards to Save Money on Vacation Shopping

Here are several ways to use your credit cards to save money on holiday shopping:

1. Look for bonus rewards. Many credit card issuers offer bonus points, miles or cash back for purchases in stores which can be perfect for holiday shopping. For example, the Chase Freedom (which is no longer available to new cardholders) and Freedom Flex℠ The cards both offer 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent on purchases at Walmart and Paypal through the end of 2021. Just note that you need to log in and activate this offer. Likewise, the Discover it card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at Best Buy, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Target.com.

2. Consider the correct store credit card. While almost every major retailer offers a co-branded store card, many aren’t that great. But if you’re considering a store card, look for ones that offer more than 2% or 3% rewards for in-store purchases. For example, the Target RedCard and Visa Signature Amazon Prime Rewards both offer 5% cash back on all in-store purchases, year-round.

3. Use your purchases to get a new account bonus. Traditionally, most reward credit cards offer generous bonuses when you open a new account. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars, but with most cards you only receive them after meeting a minimum spend requirement. For example, the Favorite Chase Sapphire currently offers 100,000 bonus points, worth $1,250 in travel rewards (when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards), after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. This spending threshold might be much easier to hit if you add some of your holiday shopping.

4. Look for purchase offers from your card issuer. Several credit card issuers offer offers from specific merchants. For example, when you log into your American Express account, you’ll have the option to sign up for dozens of offers from specific merchants that can offer you substantial cash back or extra points or miles. And Chase has its own offerings on its website and mobile app. Check to see if your credit card issuer offers a similar program.

5. Take advantage of cardholder benefits. Most credit card users have no idea what benefits are included with their cards, but it can be helpful to know about them when using them for your holiday shopping. For example, many credit cards offer extended warranty policies that can add a year or two to your manufacturer’s warranty. Knowing that you already have this coverage will make it easier for you to decline the expensive optional extended warranties offered by some retailers. And if you’re buying a new smartphone, check to see if your credit card comes with mobile insurance, as more and more cards now do.

Save money on interest charges

About half of US credit card users will carry a balance on their cards for all or part of the year, and increased spending during holiday shopping can certainly contribute to credit card debt. The easiest way to avoid credit card interest charges is to pay your statement balance in full. But if that’s not possible, here are two ways to minimize the interest charges you pay on your cards:

1. Use a card with 0% APR on a new purchase. Many credit cards offer new account holders interest-free financing on new purchases. By law, these promotional financing offers must last at least six months, but the best offers can extend for 15 months or more. For example, the Hunting Freedom Flex currently offers 15 months of 0% APR financing on new purchases (after that, 14.99%-23.74% variable APR), and the US Bank Visa® Platinum card is even better, with 0% APR for 20 cycles of billing (after that, 13.99%-23.99% variable APR).

2. Look for a balance transfer credit card. Once you’ve incurred credit card debt that you can’t pay off quickly, you can reduce or eliminate your interest charges by using a credit card with 0% APR financing on balance transfers. The US Bank Visa® Platinum card is also a good choice, as it offers 0% APR for 20 billing cycles (after that, 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR) on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer. Be sure to use these promotional financing offers to pay down your balance, and don’t delay.

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At the end of the line

The holiday shopping season isn’t over yet, and there’s still a chance to save some cash this year. By taking advantage of the rewards, benefits and financing options your card offers, you can save more money on your holiday shopping than ever before.

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