5 Tips for Using Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

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Here's how you can turn your holiday spending into even bigger credit card rewards than usual.

The following post comes from partner site LowCards.com.

Throughout 2011, credit card issuers have sweetened reward card offers to attract more consumers. Since most consumers spend so much additional money during the holidays, this is a great time to take advantage of these offers and quickly earn some extra cash or miles.

Here’s how to shrewdly use reward credit cards to maximize your holiday shopping…

1. Use your reward points

These can be used to buy gift cards with many retailers. An example: You can use American Express Membership Reward points to shop at Amazon.com to pay in full or for part of your purchase.

2. Pay attention to partner programs

Most credit card issuers have a partner program that offers discounts or bonuses for online purchases with certain companies. The program varies by issuer, but the partners could be stores where you already shop.

Discover turns $20 rewards into $25 gift cards. Citi gives an additional 1 to 5 percent cash back when you shop at their online partners. Capital One is adding bonus rewards for purchases made from Nov. 25 to 28 with some retail partners in its online shopping portal, Perk Central. Some retailers include: Landsend.com (100-percent rewards increase), Macys.com (40-percent rewards increase), Lego.com (100-percent rewards increase), and Gamestop.com (40-percent rewards increase).

3. Look for 5 percent rotating cash back offers

Chase Freedom, Discover More, and Citi Platinum Select offer an attractive 5 percent back on the spending on designated categories for a specific amount of time.

The October-December bonus categories for these issuers focus on shopping and entertainment. If you have these cards, remember to sign up for these attractive rebate offers each quarter, since enrollment is not automatic.

4. Check for spending bonus opportunities

Chase Freedom offers $200 spending bonuses for new applicants who reach a set spending limit – and $500 within three months. Holiday shopping is the best time to quickly reach these limits. Use the bonus to pay off your balance.

5. Pay attention to reward limits

Some cards, like Discover More (5 percent cash back on up to $300 in purchases each quarter), place a limit on the bonus. After you reach the limit, switch to another bonus card.

Best reward cards for holiday shopping:

  • Capital One Cash – Offers 1 percent cash back on everyday purchases and a 50-percent anniversary bonus on cash earned on purchases in the previous year. It also gives a one-time $100 bonus once you spend $500 in the first three months. No annual fee.
  • Chase Freedom $200 Cash Back Bonus – Get $200 cash back after you spend $500 in your first three months. Earn 5 percent cash back on dining, department stores, movie theaters, and charitable giving. No annual fee.
  • Discover More – Zero-percent APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Earn 5 percent cash back. Bonus on up to $300 in purchases at department stores, clothing stores, and restaurants and 1 percent on all other purchases. No annual fee.
  • Citi Thank You Preferred – Earn 10,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $500 in purchases within the first three months, good for a $100 gift card. Earn 5 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on all purchases at gas stations, supermarkets, and drugstores during the first 12 months, and 1 point for every $1 spent thereafter. No annual fee.
  • Continental Airlines One PassPlus Card – Earn 25,000 bonus miles the first time you use this card. This is enough for a round-trip ticket within the United States and Canada. The $95 annual fee  is waived the first year.
  • BankAmericard Cash Rewards – Gives a $50 cash rewards bonus after you make at least $100 in purchases within 60 days of account opening.

Stacy Johnson

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