NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for September 2021

As you're navigating expenses this month, some credit card strategies may offer additional savings.
Dec 16, 2021

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September is one of the last chances you’ll get to take care of any unfinished business before the holiday season. It’s a time to prep your home for the coming winter, plan holiday travel and tune in to some football. You might even fit in a Labor Day weekend barbecue.

For all of these activities, your credit card may offer additional savings. Here are some ways they can get you more value for your purchases.

Prep for your Labor Day cookout

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
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You can earn rewards on your Labor Day spread if you have a credit card that offers incentives at supermarkets. The $0-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, for instance, earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending, among other rewards categories. Terms apply (see rates and fees). That’s a hefty side of rewards on the side of Labor Day burgers or hot dogs.

Gear up for football season

You can also earn rewards on game-day snacks whether you’re watching football from home or the local bar or restaurant. A credit card that earns rewards on dining, groceries or both can help make up some of the cost.

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card
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The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, helps you score on all of these fronts. It earns 3% back on dining, eligible streaming services, grocery stores and entertainment. All other purchases earn 1% back. It has a $0 annual fee.

Winter-proof your home

Whether you need to replace the windows, add insulation, install storm doors or other tasks required to stay warm and safe this winter, a 0% intro APR credit card can offer some breathing room on interest.

US Bank Visa Platinum Credit Card
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Consider an ultralong 0% intro APR

Prioritize the length of the promotional window according to how long it might take you to pay off a purchase. With one of the longer interest-free windows available, the $0-annual-fee U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers a 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24%-25.24% Variable APR.

... Or a 0% intro APR with rewards

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
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If you value rewards and a 0% intro APR, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers both. It has a lengthy introductory offer: Get a 0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74%-24.74% Variable APR. It also earns a high rate of 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your highest spend category per billing cycle (from a list of eligible options, including home improvement stores). Other purchases earn 1% back.

If you have a big project that exceeds the card's $500 threshold, you could split up your purchases between one billing cycle and the next to maximize rewards. The sign-up bonus may also help you defray some costs. Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Nerdy tip: If you’re not in the market for a new credit card, look to the cards already in your wallet for potential savings. If you have a card that earns a rate of 1.5% or more in rewards, it adds up. Some credit card issuers, like Chase and AmEx, offer additional savings when you shop with select merchants. Log in to your account to see if you have any offers available.

Plan holiday travel

September is a great month to start planning your holiday travel. It can offer enough time to shop around for the best deals or earn introductory offers to apply toward next year's travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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Explore the best redemption options

If you’ve been sitting on a pile of rewards, explore which redemption options get the best deal among airfare and hotels. If your card has any transfer partners that allow you to redeem rewards to a loyalty program, you may also get more value. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, allows you to transfer rewards to partners at a 1:1 ratio. It has a $95 annual fee.

Collect rewards toward future travel

You can also use the months ahead to build a travel rewards fund for a trip next year. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently offers rich incentives and healthy ongoing rewards. It has a sign-up bonus, too: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That's enough to cover all or a huge portion of future vacation costs, depending on the destination.

It earns 5 points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases; 2 points per dollar spent on travel booked outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards®; and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Look for flexible cancellation policies

When booking any trip, remember to look for pandemic-friendly, flexible cancellation policies whenever possible. This way, you’re covered if unforeseen circumstances derail your plans. Trip cancellation benefits, if offered on your credit card, can also provide a backup plan when the unexpected happens. As long as you book travel with the credit card that offers the benefit, you may be eligible for coverage. Terms apply, so read through them carefully to understand what your card covers.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

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