Want to hear the most obvious statement in the universe? Credit card companies want you to sign up for their credit cards. Yep, we said it was obvious. In fact, credit card companies want your business so bad, that they are often willing to shell out some nice rewards right out of the gate in exchange for your business.
Want to hear another obvious statement? The holidays are expensive!
According to a survey by the American Research Group, shoppers are planning on spending $992 on gifts this holiday season (up from $983 last year), and that’s only on the gifts! That doesn’t even include that big formal dinner you are hosting, a Christmas tree and all the decorations, or all that alcohol to make it through your office holiday party!
If your wallet is going to be less than jolly this holiday season, then you may want to consider taking advantage of some credit card offers to help ease the pain a little. Let’s look at three ways you can actually use credit card offers to your advantage this holiday season.
Huge, Big Caveat That You Must Read Before Continuing!
Do you know why credit card companies tantalize you with cash back bonuses and big upfront air rewards miles? It’s not because they just want to be nice. They know that a large portion of people who take up these offers are going to end up overspending and paying so much interest over the life of their balance, that it will more than make up for any small bonuses the credit card companies initially gave out. Do not be that person!
As long as you are able to pay off your balance each month, you’ll get to enjoy the rewards of your card without having to pay a dime in interest. It’s like getting free money…but only if you pay off your balance. It is also important to note that opening up tons of credit cards can negatively affect your credit score, so there’s no need to go crazy and open up twenty new accounts. Okay, you have been warned. Let’s proceed.
Cash Back Offers
Some credit cards will give you free money just for signing up with them. Usually, you only get this bonus when you spend a certain amount, but if you were planning on spending big this holiday season anyway, there’s no reason you can’t get some extra cash while you’re at it. (Again, this only works in your favor if you pay off your balance each month!). You’d be surprised at how little you have to spend to enjoy this deal.
NerdWallet is a great resource and ranks credit card offers according to their reward category.
If you are one of the estimated 100+ million Americans who will be traveling over the holiday season (according to a AAA report), then you already know that travel costs can quickly add up, especially if you’ll be hopping on a plane or renting a hotel room. Why not let the credit card companies shoulder some or even all of your travel costs? Certain cards offer big travel point bonuses for signing up, which can be used to snag plane tickets, book your hotel room, or upgrade to first class. Nothing beats those hot towels. According to NerdWallet, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will give you 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 over three months. That adds up to $625, which can easily cover a two-way plane ticket to many parts of the country.
Let’s say that you already know that you’ll be overspending this holiday season. Maybe you’ve got a lot of travel to book, lots of gifts to buy, and big parties and meals to host. If it will take a few months for you to pay down your “holiday financial hangover,” you may be able to get an interest-free loan from your friendly neighborhood credit card company. Some cards will offer you 0% APR for a certain amount length of time just for signing up and/or 0% on balance transfer for a specific grace period. As long as you pay off your balance before the grace period ends, you essentially just got a zero interest loan! (Learn more about how you may never have to pay credit card interest again with credit card balance transfers.)
Currently, Chase Slate Visa is offering 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases AND balance transfers. That gives you a whole year to pay off your holiday excesses!
Be a Savvy Holiday Shopper
Credit card companies dangle these offers in front of you because they want you to build up a balance you can’t pay so that they can charge you lots of interest. Be a savvy holiday shopper and turn the tables on the credit card companies (trust us, they won’t be going hungry anytime soon). Taking advantage of their offers can make your holidays a little brighter and your finances easier to handle, as long as you know what you are doing! Finally, don’t forget to be safe with your credit cards this holiday season.
Want even more great investment and saving advice? Keep reading our investment and saving articles for women and consider signing up for a local Money Club. If there isn’t one near you, you can always start your own. You don’t need to be a financial wizard to start your own group; you just need to be committed to improving your money wisdom.