5 Ways to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards When Doing Holiday Shopping

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KEY POINTS

  • Many people spend a lot of money around the holidays.
  • You can earn credit card rewards for your spending.
  • Using the right credit card is just one of many techniques to maximize your rewards.


Don't do your holiday shopping without reading this!

The holiday season is a costly time of the year. Chances are good you'll be doing a lot more spending than normal as you buy gifts, plan parties, or both. The good news is, when you're spending more money, you have the chance to earn more credit card rewards points for these expenditures.

Credit card rewards like miles, points, and cash back can effectively reduce your out-of-pocket spending on holiday items since you'll get money (or valuable items) back for every dollar you spend. And, if you're smart about how you do your shopping, you can really maximize these rewards to get the most bang for your buck. Here are five tips to help you do that.

1. Sign up for the right credit card

If you want to maximize the rewards that are available to you, you obviously need a card with a generous rewards program. If you don't already have one that offers bonus rewards for the kinds of things you're most likely to buy, you should consider signing up for a new one.

Signing up for a new card could also open the door to earning new cardmember bonuses. This is extra points, cash back, or miles once you hit a spending target such as $500 in the first 90 days. If you can qualify for the bonus with your holiday spending, this can be an especially great way to end up with a lot more credit card rewards during the festive season.

2. Keep track of which card to use

If you have multiple credit cards with different rewards programs, you should keep track of which one will give you the most bonus rewards for different kinds of spending. For example, you might want to use one card offering 5% back on groceries when buying foods for your holiday table and a different one offering extra back at big-box stores if you're shopping for holiday gifts at Sam's Club or Costco.

3. Be strategic about where you buy your gifts

If you're not sure what to buy for certain people on your list, why not purchase gifts that allow you to get the maximum amount of rewards points. For example, if you have a card offering bonus rewards for restaurant spending, gift cards to local eateries would be an ideal purchase for those people who are hard to buy for.

4. Charge everything you can

The more you use your credit cards, the more rewards you can earn -- even if you aren't necessarily getting extra bonus rewards for every purchase. So, aim to charge every single expense you can as you prepare for the holidays.

When you charge things you'd have to buy anyway, this is an easy way to get lots of rewards without spending anything extra. As a bonus, many cards also offer other perks such as extended warranties or help with returns if something goes wrong.

5. Make sure you're paying off your balance in full

Finally, you should make sure you pay off the balance on your credit cards in full. If you don't and end up paying interest on holiday purchases, the financing charges will likely cost more than the value of any rewards you earn.

By following these five tips, you can make the most of your credit card rewards this holiday season.

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