Personal Resource Center
Take advantage of sign-up bonuses
If you haven't racked up many rewards points this year (or already spent them all…oops), it's not too late to get in on the holiday rewards game. Many major credit card issuers offer sign-up bonuses to attract new customers. In fact, some bonuses can be worth $1,000 or more.1 To earn a sign up bonus, you usually have to meet a spending minimum within a certain period of time. For example, earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. By putting all your expenses on your new credit card — and paying off the balance each month, of course — you can earn a big chunk of change to put toward holiday gifts.
Credit your bill
Another way to save money on holiday shopping is by taking all the cash back you earned and applying it to your credit card balance.2 This will reduce your balance when your holiday shopping bill arrives, which helps take the pressure off an already stressful time of year.
Use points for holiday travel
If you have a travel rewards card that's been earning points all year, you can cash them in for miles and give your friends and family the greatest gift of all — your presence! In 2017, the average Christmas flight cost $910 round-trip,3 so using your rewards miles can make a big difference. In fact with some travel rewards credit cards, your points are worth more when you redeem them for travel-related purchases.
Start racking up rewards now
If you're a newcomer to the world of credit card rewards, don't feel left out. You can still take advantage of them to ease your budget and stay out of debt in 2019. Pick out the right credit card for you and take advantage of all the holiday spending you have to do anyway by putting it on your new card. Come January, you should have a good amount of points available to reduce your credit card bill.
Remember, credit card rewards aren't worth a dime if you use them as an excuse to spend more than you can afford. Rewards cards can be a useful tool or a debt trap, depending on how you use them. Be sure to use your rewards card strategically, so you can come out ahead in 2019.