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What You Need to Know about Credit Cards and the Holidays
[November 18th, 2014]
The holiday season is a time of wonder, joy, celebration—and,all too often, financial stress. The New Year often arrives with a spending hangover and a larger credit card bill than usual, one you may not be able to pay off right away. And that only leads to more stress and deeper debt.
But if you’re smart about using your credit cards during the holiday season, you can actually use them to your advantage, and have a jolly holiday that doesn’t come with first quarter debt.
Here’s what you need to know about credit cards and the holidays:
- The average household spends between $600 and $1,000 on holiday gifts each year. Much of that is often charged to credit cards that won’t be paid off until long after the holidays are over. To ensure that you don’t spend more than you can really afford, sit down and make a holiday budget before you start your shopping this year.
- Most credit card issuers tailor their rewards programs to pay off with great values for holiday shoppers. If you have a cash back or rewards credit card, make sure you find out what your card is offering this season. From 5% cash back for all online purchases to double points at department stores, ‘tis the season to maximize credit card rewards.
- Your credit card might be able to do your comparison shopping for you. Programs like Citi Price Rewind search retailers for a better deal on items you’ve purchased, then refund the difference to your card. All you have to do is sign up and register your purchases. Then you don’t have to worry about missing the best sales.
- Sticking to a budget is easier with a credit card. Many credit cards offer a wealth of online tools in their account management screens. You can keep track of how much you’re spending and on what, more easily when you use credit cards instead of cash to buy gifts, food, wrapping paper, and all those little items that add up to a lot.
- Getting a new credit card for the holidays can be a smart move. If you’ve got good credit and aren’t worried about getting turned down, go ahead and apply for a new credit card with a 0% APR on purchases to use during the holidays. You can get one with anywhere from six months to a year and a half of no interest. That way, if you can’t pay off all your holiday charges in January, you’ve got a while to do it without accruing any interest. But don’t worry: if you miss the boat and don’t get a new card before the holidays, you can always apply for a balance transfer card in January.
Once you’re armed with this essential knowledge, holiday shopping can be much more fun and less anxiety producing. After all, the holidays should be about spreading good cheer, not going into debt. Using your credit cards wisely can be the best way to keep any Scrooge-like attitude at bay.
[April 13, 2017]
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, you might want to look for a flight on Southwest Airlines and try to book a reservation at a Marriott Courtyard hotel.
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[March 30, 2017]
If you’d like to donate more money to good causes, but you never seem to get around to setting up the donations, a new app will make it easier to be generous.
The app, called Movements, lets users donate small amounts that come from their credit cards. Here’s how it works: people choose a pro...
[March 15, 2017]
Commuters who spend a lot of time in the car will be happy to hear that there’s a new way for them to fuel up fast and pay quickly and securely, without even getting out of the car.
Gulf Oil is launching a new mobile payment app, called Gulf Pay. This lets drivers drive to the nearest Gulf stat...