Credit Card Tips for Holiday Shopping
If you’re shopping for gifts (for yourself or others), these tips for holiday shopping will help you maximize your credit card rewards.
For many, gift shopping is a key component of the holiday season. Using credit cards for gift purchases can be a great way to rack up rewards, especially if you plan ahead. Here are a few tricks and tips for holiday shopping that will help you earn maximum credit card rewards this holiday season.
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This holds true all year long, but it’s especially important during holiday season – use the card that gives you the highest rewards at checkout!
If you’re booking holiday travel, use relevant airline/hotel/travel cards. If you have a card from a major retailer like Amazon or Walmart, it’s likely that your best option is to focus your shopping at that retailer. This may seem simple, but it can be easy to forget in the excitement of shopping or hunting for the perfect deal – especially if your card information is automatically populated at checkout.
Additionally, if you have a rotating category card, know which retailers earn extra rewards in the current calendar quarter. For example, Discover rotating category cards offer 5% at Amazon.com and digital wallets from October to December, and Chase Freedom cards offer 5% back at Walmart and PayPal during the same period. Note that in both cases, the 5% earning rate applies only to the first $1,500 spent in each category.
If it seems like a lot to keep track of, that’s because it is – in fact, that’s exactly why we built this browser extension to make sure you never miss an opportunity to earn.
Buying gift cards (either to give as a gift directly or to use to purchase gifts) is a little trick used by some to maximize credit card rewards. This simply means buying gift cards at a retailer at which you earn rewards at an elevated rate. You don’t earn rewards when you use a gift card balance, but you claimed the reward when you purchased the gift card. This is a means of maximizing credit card rewards because you earned rewards a higher rate than you would have if you had made the purchase directly with the retailer for which you bought the gift card.
For example, say you have a card that gives your 4% back at grocery stores, but you want to buy a new desk chair and don’t have any cards that offer special rewards on desk chairs. You can buy a gift card at a grocery store for an office supply store and earn 4% back on the balance you put on the card, and then use the gift card to buy the chair. Congratulations, you’ve now earned 4% back on your new chair! This trick isn’t limited to grocery stores and office chairs – it works just as well at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or any other retailer at which you can by gift cards and earn rewards at a higher rate.
It is worth noting that this practice is sometimes forbidden by the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement, so be sure to check. However it is unlikely that a few small gift card purchases will be noticed. For more details on the gift card trick, see this article.
Spend-based Introductory Bonuses
Because of the concentration of holidays and travel at the end of the year, for many this is a time of increased spending activity. If your spending is higher during the holiday season, it may be a good time to sign up for a new card with an intro bonus that requires you to reach a certain spending limit. “Earn $200 dollars after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card ownership” – intro offers like this are common, and they can be very attractive – just be careful to hit the spend limit in the specified timeframe!
Earning rewards (on holiday shopping or otherwise) can be fun, but remember to stay within your limits. Interest rates on credit cards are higher than any reward rate, so carrying a balance is never offset by the rewards earned. Be smart this holiday season with these tips for holiday shopping, and happy holidays!
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