NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for October 2019

Oct 4, 2019
NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for October 2019

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October marks the season when it becomes socially acceptable to indulge in sweets, shopping sprees and costumes.

From buying (and “sampling”) that Halloween candy to getting an early start on your holiday shopping list, you’re bound to see some holiday expenses trickle into your budget. With a few tricks, though, your spending can earn you treats in the form of rewards.

Here are some credit card tips to help you make the most of this month.

Get some scary-good value

Halloween remains a popular holiday, with spending this year expected to hit $8.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. The right credit card strategy can help you rake in extra rewards on those purchases.

Online shoppers can pair a rewards credit card with an online shopping portal like Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) or a credit card’s bonus mall, stacking the offers. For example, if you have a store credit card like the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard, you can earn a rate of 5% back on Halloween purchases when you shop through, as well as additional rewards when you go through a portal first.

In-store shoppers can tap supermarket-friendly credit cards that earn rich rewards on groceries to get more value on candy and other Halloween-related purchases. And if the supermarket lacks the kind of Halloween treats or decorations you want, consider buying a gift card to the Halloween merchant you like best. Gift card purchases inside a supermarket typically count toward the bonus.

Seize the bonus-friendly season

If you’re looking to add a credit card to your wallet, this might be the time to do it.

That's because credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses typically offer a three-month window to meet the required spending amount for those bonuses. If you think about how much you’re likely to spend as the holiday season kicks into gear — including everyday purchases, but also festive Halloween ones — you can get a nice start toward meeting that bonus requirement.

Two or three months down the road, you might have a nice pile of points to put toward holiday travel or gifts.

Activate quarterly 5% bonus categories

Maybe you don't need a new credit card. But you can still get in on the rewards-earning fun, especially if you’re a Discover it® Cash Back or Chase Freedom® cardholder. Starting this month, you can activate categories on either card to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter (1% back on everything else).

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Discover it® Cash Back bonus categories include, Target (in store and online), and Chase Freedom® categories include department stores, PayPal and Chase Pay.

These categories are likely to align with at least some of your holiday spending.

Save on holiday travel

Hotels begin rolling out promotions around the fall with opportunities to earn more loyalty points or savings. A rewards credit card, especially a hotel credit card, can offer the chance to stack rewards with promotional offers. And if blackout dates don’t apply, you might be able to use a deal to save on holiday travel or earn points toward your next summer vacation.

Here are a few deals to consider:

  • Hilton hotels: For a limited time, Hilton Honors cardholders can get triple points on all of their Hilton stays through Jan. 5, 2020. Terms apply.

  • IHG hotels: IHG Rewards Club members can earn 50% more bonus points on eligible stays through Jan. 31, 2020, when booked before Dec. 31, 2019, at select properties. You can earn points on top of that if you use the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card to pay for your stay. The card has a $0 annual fee.

  • World of Hyatt hotels: Members can earn bonus points on their second stay at qualifying properties through Dec. 15, 2019. You have to register for this promotion by Oct. 31, 2019, to participate. You can stack this promotion with the World of Hyatt Credit Card's points-earning power. The card has a $95 annual fee.

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