This marks day two of our series Put a Bow on Your Holiday Budget: 6 Days of Advice.
The holiday spending season is already booming.
Sales were up 16 percent during this year’s Black Friday weekend compared to 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers spent nearly $400 on average over that four-day holiday stretch, with a third of that in online purchases.
Credit cards will continue to get a workout as the holiday season rolls on. It’s important for military consumers to use credit wisely year round, but that’s especially true during November and December.
For those who reach for the plastic for holiday purchases, it’s also important to look for ways to maximize that spending.
Here’s a look at four ways to spend during the holiday season that can earn rewards:
Chase, Citi and Discover offer rewards for the last quarter of 2011 for department store purchases. Think about the gamut of things sold at department stores and what you could cross of your holiday shopping list. Again, don’t go nuts with your card. Spend wisely and keep balances below 30 percent of your limit.
Bank of America cardholders who use Upromise.com to shop at retailers like Apple and Best Buy can earn 11 percent cash back for college savings plus the usual cash back offer. Citi also rewards its customers when they shop at electronic stores.
Discover cardholders can earn double cash rewards shopping on Amazon.com. Chase Freedom, Ink and Sapphire cardholders can shop on Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall to get more reward points per dollar spent from merchants, such as Foot Locker, Ann Taylor LOFT, Sony and the Apple Store.
The holidays wouldn’t be complete without some big family meals. Limit your card to one or two meals dining out. Discover cardholders can register their card to get 5 percent cash back at restaurants. Chase rewards extend to restaurants, too.
Before you start spending with a credit card this holiday season, check which cards and rewards programs in which you’re enrolled. Contact with your credit card companies if you have detailed questions about what earns rewards and what does not.
Remember to swipe wisely so that you plow through your gift list, earn rewards and keep your credit balance low.
Photo thanks to orphanjones under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.