With the holidays fast approaching you are probably beginning to wonder how you’re going to afford all of the gifts that are finding their way onto your shopping list. One of the best ways to save money with your holiday shopping is to use a retail credit card since you will get a discount on your purchases and can earn rewards, either cash back or points, to be used on future purchases.
Often during big holiday sales, like Black Friday or the weekend sales leading to Christmas, stores will give a larger discount on purchases made on the same day that you open your card. The standard opening day discount is 10% but you could get up to 20% off if you open it on a day where they offer this bonus. Check your local sales fliers, look for signs in stores or call the manager to find out which days they will be offering extra discounts. Some may also offer free or discounted gift wrapping when you make your purchase with your charge card. Here are the top three cards to look into this holiday season.
Costco TrueEarnings Card
If you’ll be doing some shopping at Costco this year, the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express is probably the best card to have in your wallet. If you are a Costco member, there is no annual fee. You get your rewards in the form of cash back and you’ll get 3% back on gas purchases, up to $3000. After that you’ll earn the standard one percent cash back reward. You earn 2% on money spent at restaurants and 1% on everything else, including your Costco purchases. Since this isn’t just a store charge card, you can use it any where American Express is accepted and earn cash back on all of your purchases year round. You might just earn enough in cash back that it will pay for your holiday shopping next year!
The Sears MasterCard is another top card becuase of its versatility. You can use it at any retailer, not just Sears, so you can accumulate points much faster. You’ll earn 10% off all purchses made at Sears on the day you open your card. Then you will earn one point for every $1 that you spend. Accumulated points can be redeemed for gift cards, dining, merchandise and travel. There is no membership fee to earn rewards, you have no liability for unauthorized purchases and you can add family members to your account. You can make returns without a receipt at Sears if the items were purchased on your Sears MasterCard. If you forget your card, you can get an in-store shopping pass which acts as your card for that day.
Kohl’s Charge Card
Shoppers that love Kohl’s will want to check out the Kohl’s Charge Card. You’ll save 10% off all of your purchases on the day that you open your card and receive coupons for extra discounts, offering you a savings of 15%-30% off of all regular, sale and clearance merchandise, every month. There is no annual fee, you’ll get itemized and easy to read statements and you can pay your bill online at anytime.
To avoid taking out a lot of charge cards, decide which store carries most of the goods that you need to buy and take out a card at that store. If you’ll need to shop at several stores your best bet is to get a card that can be used anywhere so that you are always earning rewards. Additionally, applying for more than two or three credit cards in the next few months might make your credit score drop a bit. Unless you are planning to get a loan soon, you don’t need to worry about this. Paying on time will make your score go up again over time.
Finally, remember to use common sense. You will lose any benefit of having used the card if you don’t pay off the balance before the grace period begins. Credit cards issued by retailers have some of the highest interest rates in the industry. Most stores offer the option to pay your bill in the store to save on postage and the possibility of it getting lost in the mail.