Optimizing Holiday Shopping for Savings and Rewards

By: Jamie Burton

It’s that time of year again! The time when most of us get our credit cards out and spend more than we usually do. Holiday shopping is so much more than just buying gifts though- think about the amount of money you spend on groceries for the holidays!

If you’ve ever hosted a Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner, you know how fast the food and drink costs add up. But there are a few simple things you can do to get the most out of your holiday shopping.

If you are going to be spending the money anyway, you need to optimize your holiday shopping for the most significant savings and rewards-cashback, travel award points, etc.

Using Credit Cards With Holiday Shopping Bonuses

You might be familiar with cashback cards offering one or two percent on all of your credit card purchases. However, there are better options out there. Let’s look at three cards offering great rotating bonus categories right now as well as cards that offer a cash bonus within the first 3 months of opening when you shop this holiday season.

1.) Discover IT– This card is a great example of a card that has no annual fee. It offers a cashback match on all the cash that you’ve earned your first year. This card also has a 5% cashback bonus that rotates each quarter. This quarter (October-December 2019) the 5% cashback bonus is for Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com. You will also earn unlimited 1% cashback on all other purchases automatically.
2.) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card– This card also has no annual fee. This card you earn 1.5% cashback on every purchase. The perk to this card is a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. That is 30% cashback! If you will be spending $500 for the holidays, this is a great option.
3.) Chase Freedom Unlimited– This card is very similar to Capital One above. There is no annual fee and you will earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases. The bonus value is earning a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Look into these different options. If you do most of your shopping online, the Discover IT card is a great option. If you think you will be spending $1,000 on the holidays, consider getting the Capital One card as well as the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Combining these two cards will get you $300 cashback instead of $150 cashback.

How to Maximize These Bonuses

It’s easy to maximize your credit card rewards at major wholesale clubs ie. Sam’s Club and Costco. In addition to the usual things you can buy there, like meat and toilet paper, wholesale clubs sell lots of different gift cards at discounted prices.

You can purchase a few cards for yourself, for future use, for the places you would normally spend money anyway. Also, consider buying gift cards as presents. If you’re looking for gifts for a hard to please teenager, an iTunes or GooglePlay card is a perfect gift. Bonus that you can get them at a discount! The best part? You can buy a lot of different gift cards online, and they will be shipped to you for free.

See if you can do a majority of your holiday shopping this year at one of the warehouse clubs. After all, they sell books, toys, clothes, jewelry, tools, and all the popular electronics. You can even buy expensive wine and rare whiskey at Costco. One-stop shopping that saves you time and money and earns valuable rewards!

Shopping portals

If you aren’t using shopping portals when shopping online, you are leaving money on the table. There are a lot of different shopping portals, including Ebates, Mr. Rebates, and Top Cashback. All major U.S. airlines have shopping portals as well.

Before buying anything online, check cashbackmonitor.com to see which shopping portal offers the best deal. It could be an airline portal, credit card portal, or a straight cashback portal. Avoid signing up for too many of the portals because a lot of them have payout minimums. If you spread your spending among too many of them, you’ll have small cashback balances out there that you won’t be able to cash out.

Ebates also offers in-store cashback for many popular stores; you’ll just need to link your credit card. Many of the shopping portals have a browser extension button that will flash to remind you to click through the portal. Ebates browser extension will even alert you if a product is available somewhere else for less!

Final Thoughts

There are all kinds of cards to get the rewards that you most desire, like store credit cards, cashback, or travel rewards cards. Most offer a lot of great benefits. However, before signing up for a new credit card or using any of your existing cards, make sure you can pay off the balance IN FULL. If you think you will have to carry a balance, don’t worry about maximizing your credit card rewards and benefits. There is no credit card reward worth the interest charges.

Credit cards are a great tool and should not be feared. Learn the rules and use the cards to your advantage!

Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see our Disclosure page for the full disclaimer.