The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, September 29, 2022

6 Credit Strategies to Help You Financially Prepare for the Holidays

Credit Strategies To Financially Prepare For The Holidays

credit card advice

Andrea Woroch

Written by: Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized consumer finance expert, writer, and TV personality who is passionate about helping families find simple ways to spend less and save more without making major sacrifices. Her practical budgeting and savings advice has helped millions of Americans initiate real financial change so they can stress less and spend more time doing the things they love. As a go-to media expert, Andrea has appeared on popular TV shows such as Today, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, Dr. OZ, CNN, and MSNBC. Her work has been featured in the The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Cosmopolitan, Money, Time, Woman’s Day, Yahoo, among other outlets. Andrea hosts a monthly money segment on KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Although we just welcomed fall, it’s time to start planning for the winter holidays. But, if thoughts of holiday shopping make you sweat and feel anxious, you’re not alone.

According to a survey from the investment firm Principal Financial Group, 52% of people feel financially stressed from holiday spending. The holiday season is an expensive time of year thanks to everything from buying gifts for family, friends, and co-workers to spending on decorations, travel, and playing host to holiday guests. But you don’t have to let money worries ruin your upcoming holiday this joyful season.

With a little extra planning, you can manage your spending and stretch your budget further. Here’s a look at six ways you can start using your credit card to prep for the holidays and alleviate the financial burden this season brings.

1. Take Advantage of New Card Bonuses

Credit card churning — the practice of opening new credit cards to take advantage of sign-up rewards and bonus offers — is an easy way to earn free money and rewards that can be used to offset the cost of holiday purchases.

For instance, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a $300 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months with no annual fee for the first year and $95 every year after that.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Best Overall Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Meanwhile, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card offers new cardholders a much more easily attainable signup bonus, though slightly smaller in total, and there’s no annual fee.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Aside from the sizable signup bonus, new cardholders will enjoy competitive cash back rewards as well as a promotional APR.

However, this strategy only works when you use the cards wisely and only charge what you can afford to pay off in full so you don’t incur interest fees or get stuck in debt.

2. Make a Reward Redemption Plan

A 2017 Bankrate survey found that 31% of cardholders have never redeemed their rewards. If you fall into this statistic, it’s time to figure out your redemption plan and how it can help you save over the holidays.

First, look at the terms of your credit card’s redemption policy to see if you qualify for bonus points, miles, or cash back when you redeem for statement credit or a deposit into an affiliated bank account.

Alternatively, look at gift card redemption options with retailers you plan to shop at. Some credit cards like Chase offer discounts on retail cards when redeeming points.

For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards offers 10% to 20% off select retailer gift cards. Depending on how long it will take to receive your gift card in the mail, you may want to redeem ahead of the shopping season so you get it by Black Friday to take full advantage of retailers’ holiday discounts.

3. Opt-In to New Bonus Categories

Select credit cards offer rotating bonus reward categories in which you can earn extra points or cash back at specific retailers, restaurants, or in general categories such as gas and groceries. What many people don’t realize is that you must opt-in to get these extra rewards.

The Discover it® Cash Back card is one such option with quarterly rotating bonus reward categories.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 14.24% to 25.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

Sign in to your credit card’s app for easy access to learn about what’s being offered and sign up to take advantage of those bonuses. Now is a great time to earn extra rewards and save them for the winter holidays to offset gift and travel costs!

4. Browse Available Deals through Your Card’s Online Mall

You can earn exclusive cardmember discounts and savings of around 20% through your credit card company’s online shopping portals. Frequently referred to as a credit card bonus mall, this is basically a website that offers affiliate links to several online retailers and may offer additional rewards — potentially more than you typically earn — for every dollar spent at a particular retailer.

You can view participating merchants and see the available discounts or bonus rewards once you log in to the credit card’s online shopping portal. If you have multiple credit cards, review discount and rewards options across each platform to figure out where you can get the biggest discount.

Keep in mind that some retailers may not accept additional coupons or discount codes, and you will not earn bonus rewards on shipping charges or taxes, only the cost of the merchandise.

5. Spread Out Purchases

You run the risk of going into debt and carrying a revolving balance that racks up interest fees if you wait to buy all your holiday gifts just before Christmas and don’t have enough money saved to pay off the full balance. Avoid this financially devastating scenario by spreading out purchases over several weeks.

Retailers will begin rolling out pre-Black Friday deals in early November. This is a good time to begin buying presents for various loved ones on your shopping list. This will help alleviate the financial pressure you may feel come December and help you better manage your cash flow.

If you have no choice but to use credit for purchases that you’ll need several months to pay off, see if you qualify for a card with a promotional 0% APR period. These cards allow you to make purchases and incur no interest fees for up to 15 months.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Start off strong with 0% Intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. A variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99% on balance transfers and purchases after the introductory period ends.
  • Lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Automatically be considered for an APR reduction when you pay on time, and spend at least $1000 on your card by your next account anniversary.
  • Raise your credit limit. Get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when you pay on time, and spend $500 in your first six months.
  • All for no annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Slate Edge℠ card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 18 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 18 months
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 16.49%-26.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Just be sure to pay the total balance off before the promotional period ends.

6. Rack Up Rewards Faster

Whether you’re going out to lunch with a couple of co-workers or meeting up with a group of friends for dinner, you can rack up rewards on your credit card faster by offering to cover the bill for various expenses on group outings.

Offer to pay for things like shared rides to restaurant meals and group activities with your credit card and ask everyone to quickly pay you back through a digital transfer app like Zelle or Venmo. This gives you the opportunity to rack up cash back or travel points faster without spending extra money out of your own pocket. You can then redeem those rewards for holiday gifts or flights home to visit family!

Employing one or more of the above credit strategies can help maximize the value of your credit card, and, hopefully, reduce some of the financial strain so you can relax this holiday season.

Advertiser Disclosure

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