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From traveling to feasting to holiday shopping, November can be a month full of memorable times with loved ones. But all that celebrating comes at a cost. According to NerdWallet’s annual holiday shopping report, 85% of Americans plan to spend an average of $831 on gifts this season. And that figure pales in comparison to the travel sector, where, according to NerdWallet’s 2023 holiday travel report, nearly 50% of Americans expect to spend an average of $1,947 on seasonal flights and hotel stays.
It’s hard to feel grateful in times of financial stress, but a few smart strategies can make holiday budgeting more manageable. Here’s a look at our best credit card tips this month.
It’s easy for holiday spending to get carried away. Start strong with a realistic holiday budget that includes categories for gifts, travel, hosting and decor. Then, give yourself some breathing room with a 5-10% contingency budget for the unexpected.
Give thanks for savings on groceries and gas
Whether you’re hosting a crowd at home or traveling to celebrate with family and friends, a showstopping new offer from Chase can help offset the costs of your Thanksgiving celebrations and beyond.
For a limited time, new Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders who apply directly through Chase can earn 5% cash back on gas and 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: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Note: These offers are available only to those who apply directly through Chase. NerdWallet application links feature a different offer.
» SEE: Best credit cards right now
Finance the holidays while earning rewards
If you anticipate taking on credit card debt this holiday season, you’re in the majority. NerdWallet’s 2023 Holiday Report found that 74% of Americans plan to charge an average of $680 on holiday gifts this year.
As winter spending heats up, keep in mind that the cost of merrymaking could linger long after the holiday lights come down. In fact, of the 52% of Americans who incurred holiday credit card debt in 2022, nearly a third haven't paid off those balances.
For those who need a little flexibility to cover holiday costs, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® may be the perfect gift. It offers 0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 20.49%-29.24% Variable APR. But unlike many 0% intro APR credit cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® doesn’t sacrifice rewards. In fact, the card currently offers this valuable sign-up bonus: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
Given the card’s already generous earnings, this cash-back match adds up quickly. Here’s a look at the Chase Freedom Unlimited®’s ongoing rewards, and how those translate with the current bonus offer:
Sign-up bonus: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
Typical rewards rate
Rewards rate for the first year with unlimited cash back match
While earning a minimum of 3% back on purchases is impressive, this offer’s potential value toward travel costs is much higher. Learn more here about how to make the most of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® current rewards-matching offer.
Check your annual rewards limits
Several popular credit cards cap high rewards earnings for select categories with an annual limit on the total amount you can earn. At this point in the year, you may be closing in on those limits—and once you reach them, chances are you would be better served using a different card:
If any of the following cards are in your wallet, check your account to determine whether it makes sense to flex to a different card for the remainder of the year:
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: 3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%. Terms apply. If your monthly spending at U.S. supermarkets exceeds $600 per month, you may be closing in on this cap.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%. Terms apply. If your family spends more than $600 per month at U.S. supermarkets, you’ll probably max out those lucrative 6% earnings this month.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: 4% cash back on gas and EV charging purchases (both at Costco and other gas stations) on up to $7,000 of spending a year, then 1% back. If your household averages more than $700/month on gas, you may surpass the annual limit this month.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: 3 points per $1 spent on up to $6,000 combined spending for dining, gas and groceries. If you’ve spent more than $650 per month on this card for these categories, your rewards in Q4 will drop to 2 points per $1 spent.
Sam's Club® Mastercard®: 5% cash back in Sam's Cash on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted (on up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%). If your household averages more than $600/month on gas, you’re likely nearing this limit.
Get rewarded when 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 November 28th, 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.