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From traveling to feasting to holiday shopping, November is a month full of memorable times with loved ones. But all that celebrating can come with a cost. This year, many Americans will be challenged with balancing the desire to celebrate loved ones with the reality of rising prices and increased economic uncertainty.
Whether you're managing debt or want to maximize rewards, here are our best credit card tips to help your holidays shine bright without breaking the bank.
Plan ahead for holiday financing
If you anticipate taking on additional credit card debt to cover this year’s holiday spending, you’re not alone. In a September 2022 survey, 43% of holiday shoppers told the National Retail Federation they don’t earn enough to cover holiday expenses this year. And of those respondents, 32% cited taking on credit card debt as a potential avenue to cover holiday spending.
No one likes the idea of taking on extra debt over the holidays, and your best bet is always to plan to spend within your means. Start by setting a realistic budget before you find yourself lost in the whirlwind of holiday shopping. Plan for each spending category, including a 5%-10% contingency budget to account for the unexpected.
If the possibility of additional credit card debt still feels inevitable, there are steps you can take now to avoid accruing expensive interest charges on holiday expenses.
Borrowers with good credit (a FICO score of 690 or higher) may qualify for an option like the BankAmericard® credit card, which comes with one of the longest introductory offers on the market: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 21 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 21 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99%-24.99% Variable APR.
Make the most of your holiday meal
Before you decide exactly how many cousins should be invited to Thanksgiving dinner this year, prepare yourself for some sticker shock in the poultry section. Thanks to a combination of inflation and the largest outbreak of bird flu since 2015, chances are that your holiday bird will cost a lot more than it did in the past.
Too late to rescind dinner invites? You can maximize the rewards you'll earn on all those entertaining purchases. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns a best-in-class rate of 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%). Terms apply.
And for holiday meal savings that will carry well into the new year, don't miss Chase's latest showstopping grocery offer. For a limited time, new cardholders of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ who apply directly through Chase can earn 5% cash back at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending in the first year. That's in addition to an impressive sign-up bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases during the first 3 months from account opening. (Note that these offers are available only to those who apply directly through Chase. NerdWallet features a different offer.)
Chase Freedom cardholders who also hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® can unlock the ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards® to travel partners or to redeem for travel booked through Chase at a higher value.
Maximize welcome offers for next year’s spending plans
As you prepare for increased spending on holiday travel, gifts, and meals, November is a great time to take advantage of lucrative welcome offers. But which offer is best for your wallet? That depends, to a degree, on your plans for next year. To maximize these benefits, match the sign-up bonus you choose to pursue to your spending plans. Here are our recommendations for lucrative bonus offers depending on your financial goals:
If you’re gathering points for 2023 travel
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.
Citi Premier® Card: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
If you want cash rewards from holiday spending
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
U.S. Bank Shopper Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card - NerdWallet Exclusive: Get a $250 bonus after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
Get more by giving back
Along with all the shopping and feasting, November brings a renewed opportunity to give back for those in need. When Giving Tuesday rolls around on Nov. 29, choosing the right credit card for your donations can help you get even more rewards from giving back.
Making a donation to your favorite charity can help you earn miles or cash back, especially if you’re working toward a lucrative sign-up bonus. Or, if you have unused credit card rewards and aren’t sure how to spend them, donating the rewards themselves to charity may be an option.