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‘Tis the Season to Get More from Your Credit Card

December 8th, 2011 · blog, Guest Post

As people around the country nurse scrapes and bruises from a chaotic Black Friday, begin putting up holiday decorations, and finalize gift giving plans, concerns over making ends meet are likely reaching a fever pitch. And while most know about the benefits of budgeting, cutting coupons, and shopping for discounts, the potential for savings that a credit card represents is a rather well-kept secret. You can benefit both by opening a new credit card and by taking advantage of the holiday season deals that certain credit card companies are currently offering their existing customers. Since these credit-card-centric saving methods can lower holiday costs by as much as a few hundred dollars, they, at the very least, warrant further inspection.

Save extra by adding a new card to your wallet
The intense competition amongst credit card companies for the business of people with excellent credit has made opening a new credit card a particularly lucrative act. Whether you need to lower the cost of debt (existing or upcoming) or earn extra rewards, you can easily do so with the right credit card. Not only that, but you can do so quickly, as many credit cards are offering 0% interest introductory rates and initial rewards bonuses that kick in after you charge a predetermined amount within the first few months. Below the jump you will find the best holiday credit cards for making balance transfers, avoiding interest on upcoming purchases, and earning rewards:

  • Citi Platinum Select MasterCard: By merit of its 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 21 months, this card represents a good way to lower the cost of existing debt and thereby make holiday spending less daunting. This card has a 3% balance transfer fee but no annual fee.
  • Citi Dividend World MasterCard: First of all, this card offers attractive holiday rewards earning rates: 5% cash back on purchases made at department stores, clothing stores, toy stores and electronics store until New Year’s; 1% cash back on everything else. Secondly, it gives you $100 in return for spending $500 in the first three months after account opening. Add 0% on purchases for 15 months to the equation, and it seems like this card is designed for the busy holiday season.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard: All you need to know is that this card offers 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 during the first three months, which can be redeemed for a $500 check or statement credit. Oh, and it doesn’t have an annual fee in the first year ($95 thereafter).

Get more from a card already in your wallet
Have a Discover, American Express or Chase credit card? Then you automatically have some extra ways to save at your disposal. The basic terms of each issuer’s holiday deals are laid out below, but in exploring these offers, keep in mind that they won’t all necessarily translate into savings. For example, getting discounts or earning heightened rewards on purchases made through a particular issuer’s online shopping mall might sound appealing, but originally high prices may make shopping around other online and physical retailers a cheaper strategy. In other words, don’t forget to analyze the practical benefits of any would-be “deal” before jumping at it.

  • Discover: Through the end of the year, 5% cash back bonus on restaurant, department store, and clothing store charges; 2% cash back on first $250 in Amazon.com purchases; discounts and free shipping from certain retailers at Shop Discover (Discover’s online mall); chance to redeem rewards for special holiday experiences.
  • American Express: 50 available 20% off deals during Cyber Week; $25 credit for spending at least $25 at a small business on Small Business Saturday; weekly 50% off deals on Facebook and five times the rewards on 20 brands through the end of the year.
  • Chase: Chase Sapphire, Freedom and Ink customers get 10 points/$1 spent on certain purchases made on ultimaterewards.com through Dec. 12; Amazon.com credit card users get 10 points/$1 spent on downloadable Amazon.com purchases through the end of the year; Chase Freedom cardholders are eligible for 10% or 20% off deals on gift cards at ultimaterewards.com/great through Jan. 4; chance to redeem rewards for special holiday experiences.

Ultimately, it’s very important that if you choose to take advantage of any of these credit card deals, you use it to offset the cost of holiday purchases you would have made regardless. In other words, don’t use a new credit card or special holiday discounts as an excuse to overspend because that would simply defeat the purpose. With that being said, I hope your holiday cheer is not mitigated by financial fear this year!

This guest article is from the editorial staff at Card Hub, a leading online marketplace for credit cards, prepaid cards and discounted gift cards.

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