Smart Holiday Shopping this Year: Pull Out the Credit Cards

Are you ready for holiday shopping? It's all about the credit cards if you want to make the most of your holiday shopping experience.

I'd say the holiday shopping season is creeping up on us, but that would be inaccurate. The holiday season tends to stomp up to you and wave its arms to get your attention. Black Friday might be the most visible sign of the holiday shopping season, but the reality is that, for many consumers, the shopping season is already under way.

Chances are that you're a smart shopper, and you've already got a list, and a budget, and you're ready to go. is already ramping up its Lightning Deals, and many retailers are starting to advertise pre-Black Friday specials. You might have a good idea of where to go, and what you expect to find. However, one thing you might not be doing is paying attention to your credit card usage.

Shopping Star

If you want to make the most of your holiday shopping dollars, though, it makes sense to make use of the best credit cards to maximize your experience. Before you get caught up in the holiday shopping cheer, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Rotating Categories

Do you have rotating category cards? If so, check to see which categories are offering the bigger cash back bonus. If your holiday purchases coincide with categories that promise you a bigger cash back percentage, focus on those. You want to get as much back as possible. Other cards, like the American Express Blue Cash, offer higher “regular” cash back rates. If you have any of these types of cards in your wallet, use them for purchases outside the rotating categories.

Compare the credit cards in your wallet to see which are likely to provide you with the best value this holiday shopping season. If you can offset your holiday spending with a little extra cash back, you have the chance to improve the overall efficiency of your holiday budget.

Look at Credit Card Perks

There are plenty of little-known perks that can protect your purchases during the holiday season. Price protection can mean that, if an item goes on sale after you have bought it, you can get a refund for the difference in price. You can also receive protection from theft in some cases. Many credit card issuers also offer extended warranty protection, free of charge. If you are looking to protect your holiday purchases, it makes sense to use credit cards. Check your card benefits, or call your issuer, to find out whether or not these perks are offered with your credit card.

Don't Carry Balance

As you probably know, about the worst thing you can do with a credit card is to carry a balance. Credit cards come with notoriously high interest rates. Savvy credit card users never pay interest, though. If you've been saving up for your holiday shopping, and if you have a budget, stick with it. Buy everything with credit cards and then pay off those credit cards as soon as possible. Carrying a balance month to month — especially if you only pay the minimum balance — is the short road to frustration and debt.

It doesn't take a lot of work to rack up the extra cash back and credit card rewards this holiday season. Just do what you would normally do with your holiday shopping, but do it with credit cards.

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