It's that time of year again! Christmas decorations are everywhere you look. Holiday classics are on repeat on the radio. And you're acting like Santa Claus while making your list and checking it twice.
Before you starting buying gifts, stop a moment, and give some thought to how you can maximize rewards with your Christmas shopping. There's no reason that you shouldn't give yourself the gift of some extra cash or rewards towards a free vacation.
What Is The Best Credit Card To Maximize Rewards With Christmas Shopping?
The “best” credit card for shopping depends upon what your goals are. Many credit cards offer a variety of rewards, such as cashback, airline miles, hotel points, or flexible points. Additionally, you'll want to factor in which stores you plan to shop at for presents when planning to maximize rewards with Christmas shopping.
The Chase Freedom has rotating quarterly promotions where you can earn up to 5% cashback on your shopping. For the 4th quarter of 2019, you'll get 5% cash back at department stores and purchases made with PayPal or ChasePay. Keep in mind: enrollment in the 5% cash back reward is required each quarter.
American Express Gold Card
Make good use of all extra groceries and eating out you'll be doing this season with the American Express Gold Card. You'll earn unlimited 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x on the first $25,000 you spend at U.S. grocery stores.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Dining and entertainment purchases earn unlimited 4% cashback while grocery purchases earn an unlimited 2%. With the entertainment bonus, you'll earn 4% cashback when buying tickets to theme parks, concerts, and sporting events to make someone's day on Christmas morning. Plus, Capital One has a special offer with Vivid Seats through May 2020 where your rewards are doubled to 8% cashback!
Related: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
How Can I Maximize My Credit Card Points?
In addition to picking the right credit card for your purchases, there are many other ways to earn additional rewards. All of these options do not cost anything extra except for a few minutes to register your credit cards or to click through a shopping portal.
When shopping online, most people go straight to the retailer's website to make their purchase. However, if you go through a shopping portal first, you can earn cashback or airline miles based on the amount you spend.
I like going to CashBackMonitor.com to see what other shopping portals are offering. This allows me to see all of the cashback, points, and miles options so I can maximize rewards with Christmas shopping through the portals.
Additionally, some shopping portals will give you a bonus just for signing up. For example, Rakuten.com (formerly Ebates.com) is giving new accounts an extra $10 gift card if they complete a $25 purchase within 90 days.
Bonus Offers From Airlines And Hotels
During the holidays, airlines and hotels will email their loyalty program members to encourage them to shop through their portal. In many cases, they will increase the rewards earned for specific merchants and offer bonuses for spending certain amounts. When you take advantage of these promotions, you are triple dipping–rewards for credit card usage, using a shopping portal, and earning a spending bonus.
Extra Gift Cards From Restaurants
Restaurants love selling customers gift cards. It ensures that they'll return and often will spend much more than the gift card amount. To encourage this behavior, the restaurants will offer bonus gift cards in addition to the amount that you are buying. For example, a restaurant may offer a $10 bonus gift card when you buy $50. When this happens, I'll buy someone the $50 gift card as a present, then keep the $10 for myself. This is like getting 20% off your purchase!
Pay attention to the rules of the bonus gift card. It typically has specific dates it must be used by.
Register Your Credit Cards For Automatic Rewards
I love it when I can set it and forget it. Several mobile apps and programs give rewards when you use your registered credit cards. Some of the apps I use are Dosh, Drop, and Bumped. When I use registered cards at participating retailers and restaurants, additional rewards are automatically deposited into my account.
Additionally, I sign up for the Rewards Network dining rewards program of my favorite airlines, like Southwest and American. When I dine at participating restaurants, I'll receive miles in addition to the normal rewards I earn from my credit card.
Also, sign up for Uber Local Offers. With this program, you'll receive Uber credits that you can use to reduce the cost of future rides. Best of all, many of these programs stack, so you can earn rewards from multiple programs at once!
Use Christmas Shopping To Meet Minimum Spending Requirements
After you've figured out your budget for Christmas shopping, consider applying for a new credit card before you start shopping. This way you can use holiday shopping as an easy way to meet the credit card minimum spend requirements to earn the welcome bonus.
Additional Ways To Save On Christmas Shopping
Aside from using the right credit card and figuring out ways to maximize rewards with Christmas shopping, there are other opportunities to save on your purchases.
Look For Discount Codes
Discount codes are a great way to get a discount on your purchase or receive free shipping. Websites dedicated to finding deals keep track of the latest promo codes. RetailMeNot.com is one that I often turn to. The browser plugin Honey automates the process for you, but it can overwrite your rewards from the shopping portals mentioned above, so be wary of it.
Join The Store's Email List
Most of us don't need another email cramming our inbox. But when it's the holiday season, these emails offer promotions that might not be available anywhere else. Create a separate email address for sales emails or apply a filter to shuffle these emails into a folder. That way you can easily look through the offers when you're ready to shop.
Shop With Gift Cards
There are two ways to save with gift cards. First off, you can maximize rewards with Christmas presents by buying gift cards at grocery stores, gas stations, and office supply stores with the right credit cards. Instead of buying a gift card from the retailer, take advantage of your bonus multipliers of the shopping categories from your credit cards.
Gift card giving is very popular, but that doesn't mean the recipient is happy with the gift. There are gift card reselling websites where you can buy gift cards at a discount from people who would rather have the cash. A few of the popular options include GiftCardGranny.com, CardPool.com, and Raise.com.
Sign Up For The Store's Loyalty Program
Don't stop at earning credit card rewards, get all the points you can. Sign up for the store's loyalty program to earn its rewards as well. You may receive free products, gift cards towards future purchases, and more. Some programs even make returns easier because they keep track of your purchases.
Use Credit Card Offers
Most major banks now provide customized offers based on your profile and spending habits. One of the most popular is Amex Offers from American Express. To find out your offers, log into your account and scroll down. You'll see offers that are unique to you and, if you have multiple Amex cards, your credit card. Simply click to activate to earn cashback or extra points.
Skip The Warranty
Store salespeople make big commissions when they upsell you to buy a warranty on the product you just bought. First off, if the product is so bad that it's going to break within the first year, maybe you shouldn't be buying it. When you use the right credit card, you'll be covered through an extended warranty on eligible purchases.
One of my favorites right now is the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. It offers a welcome bonus of up to 50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 in purchases within the first three months and earns an unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. When you make purchases, there are no foreign transaction fees and it doubles the length of the manufacturer's warranty. Plus, it will replace, repair, or reimburse eligible items within 90 days of purchase.
Earn Credit Card Bonuses To Pay For Gifts
If you're on a budget or would rather use your money to get closer to Financial Independence, it is possible to pay for Christmas using credit card rewards. Many credit cards offer cash signup bonuses after meeting minimum spend requirements.
If you time your purchases right, you might be able to buy Christmas gifts, then get the cash bonus in time to apply it towards the presents that you purchased. That's a huge win-win!
Some of my favorite credit cards with big cashback welcome bonuses are:
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card. Offers 4% cashback on dining and entertainment plus 2% on groceries. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. Offers a $300 signup bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. This no annual fee card earns 3% on groceries (up to $6,000 in purchases) and 2% at gas stations and select department stores. You'll receive a $150 welcome bonus when you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months.
Chase Freedom. You can earn up to 5% cashback each quarter at select stores (up to $1,500 in purchases) from this no annual fee credit card. When you maximize these bonuses, you'll earn $300 each year. Plus, you'll receive a $200 new cardmember offer after spending $500 in the first three months after account opening.
Citi Double Cash Card. Although this credit card does not currently offer a signup bonus, it does earn an unlimited 2% cashback on all of your purchases. You'll receive 1% cashback when making purchases, then another 1% on every payment that you make. There is no annual fee.
The Bottom Line
Christmas and the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the people you care about the most. When giving presents to family and friends, take advantage of your credit cards to maximize rewards with Christmas shopping.
If you don't have a good rewards credit card, there is still time to apply and get your card in time for great shopping deals. You might even meet your minimum spend for cashback or awesome travel rewards for a free vacation.
Even if you're not ready for a new credit card, there are still plenty of other opportunities to earn additional rewards through online portals, mobile apps, and shopping bonuses.
I hope that you found this guide useful. These are the strategies that I use every time I shop or eat out to save money and earn extra rewards. What is your favorite way to maximize rewards when shopping for Christmas gifts?
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