The holidays are a time for family, food and remembering what’s important in life. They’re also a time for spending â€” sometimes hundreds or thousands of dollars â€” on everything from smartphones and laptops to appliances, designer clothes and family trips.
Consumers have the option of buying gifts with cash. But opting for a credit card instead can mean that doling out your hard-earned dollars will also earn you a large number of points or cash back. Your gifts also may be better protected. Here are some types of purchases that are best put on a credit card.
If you’re making a larger gift purchase â€” perhaps a new TV, laptop or smartphone â€” using your credit card instead of debit or cash has its benefits.
Sign-up Bonuses: If you have a card that’s eligible for a sign-up bonus, putting several purchases of a few hundred dollars each on your card can mean hitting the bonus criteria in a short period of time, if not instantly.
Earning a credit card sign-up bonus is usually very simple: Spend a certain amount of money on the card within an allotted time period and you’ll earn a bonus (either in cash or points). Some cards have a required spend of several thousand dollars within the first few months of card ownership but, if the bonus criteria is met, you’ll receive a few hundred dollars back, which can be used to offset the cost of holiday spending.
Whether you’re buying furniture, electronics or a new pair of boots, grouping purchases together on the same card should make hitting your bonus threshold a breeze. Just be sure to review the specific terms of the bonus before you use the card.
Promotional APRs: Another reason to use a credit card for large purchases is the option to finance. There are a handful of cards available that offer promotional 0% APRs, which allow cardholders to pay for their purchases over time without accruing interest during the promotional period. These credit cards are especially useful for larger purchases where you might not have the cash available to pay it all up front.
If, for example, you’d like to buy an expensive gift now and you know you’ll be receiving a salary bonus a few months down the road, using a card with a temporary interest-free period can allow you to buy now and pay later without incurring interest charges. Just be sure to make at least the minimum monthly payment on your statement. Otherwise, your issuer may start charging interest and penalties.
Added Protections: Most credit cards come with added warranties, price protections, and return policies. Though not as glamorous as sign-up bonuses, these added protections may get you out of a jam when that boombox doesn’t sound as good as it did in the store or the Burberry coat doesn’t fit its recipient.
Plenty of cards earn additional points when used for planes, trains and rental cars â€” others even earn on things like cruises, amusement parks, taxis and more. If you’re planning on surprising the family with a trip this holiday season â€” or maybe you’re traveling for the holidays â€” booking with the right credit card will earn you points and save you money on future travel.
An important consideration when picking a travel card is finding one that matches up with your specific habits. If you most frequently stay at one hotel chain or fly one specific airline, you may want to consider a carrier’s co-branded credit card to earn the most points. If you’re not loyal to one brand, a general travel card will allow you to earn a flat rate on many forms of travel.