It’s easy to get carried away with your shopping sprees during the holiday season. You have gifts to give and people to feed great meals, after all, and providing these experiences to your loved ones justifies this level of spending. It’s tempting to just use your credit card to complete your online and in-store purchases since it’s more convenient than managing cash transactions. But before you start swiping, make sure you have a spending plan in place. After all, you don’t want to burden your future self with your present self’s generosity. Also, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that your credit card is a potent financial tool, one that should be wielded with wisdom and a sense of responsibility.
Dos and Don’ts of using your Credit Card when Holiday Shopping
So how do you make the most of your credit card during the holiday season? Here are some dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind.
Do Use Your Credit Card Rewards
If you’re planning to spend a big amount, why not use this planned spending to your advantage? Plenty of credit card companies partners with retailers in providing their customers with bonuses and reward programs. If your credit card provider offers such a program, then it’s a good idea to look at how you can take part in it while you’re doing your holiday shopping. Should you consider a particular brand of clothing or appliances so you can earn extra reward points, or would ordering meals from a particular restaurant help you earn discounts during the holiday season? Take advantage of these opportunities whenever possible.
Do Use Your Credit Card to Track Your Spending
One of the many advantages of using your credit card for your holiday shopping spree is that it enables you to see all your expenses in one place. You don’t have to count your bills and coins; you can simply wait for your credit card statement to see if the math checks out. In addition to skipping the calculations part, using your credit card also gives you a clear view of your actual spending. You can use your statement to see if you’ve actually met your budget plan, and you can use it as a reference to plan a budget that closely reflects your realistic monthly spending. Having this ability is quite convenient, especially if you’re particularly busy during the holidays.
Do Consider Cards That Offer an Intro Bonus or Zero Interest
If your current credit card can no longer suffice for your needs, then the holiday season is a great time to look for an upgrade. Even at this time, there are plenty of companies that continue to look for consumers who will use their credit cards in earnest. To encourage new clients, many of these credit card companies are offering timely promotions such as generous intro bonuses in terms of cashback, miles, and points and zero interest for purchases that exceed a particular amount. Check these out if you’re planning to upgrade your credit card or if you’re looking at buying something significant for the season.
Don’t Spend Beyond What You Can Realistically Pay Off
Be it a holiday or not, it’s still a good idea to have a specific budget in mind when shopping. If you’re purchasing items for Christmas and New Year, for example, then you can factor in your 13th-month pay and Christmas bonus to your shopping budget. Don’t make the mistake of spending beyond what you’re capable of paying back in time, even if the festive mood compels you to give away a lot of gifts or prepare fancy food items. Do the math first, have a target spending in mind, and make every effort not to exceed that number. This way, you can start the next year without further increasing your debt, if you have any.
Don’t Let Your Deadlines Pass By Without Paying Your Bills
Credit cards offer a lot of financial perks, but only if you’re capable of paying your bills in a timely manner. Exceed your deadline, and you’re sure to see your bills pile up as the interest kicks in. Remember to set aside enough resources so that you can pay your bills on time and avoid interest rates and the fees that come with late payments.
Don’t Use Public Channels to Enter Your Credit Card Info
Even if you’re busy shopping, don’t make the mistake of using public internet connection to enter your credit card information. There may be techy individuals who are snooping around at these terminals, and they are looking for the perfect opportunity to access your information and use it to their advantage. If possible, use your mobile data or a VPN to protect your privacy and keep your credit card information shielded from these malicious entities.
It’s perfectly fine to be generous with yourself and others during the holiday season, but make sure you’re doing it safely and responsibly. In addition to owning material things, practicing these dos and don’ts will help you enjoy peace of mind and security, no matter the season.