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With the nip of autumn in the air, September signals the start of football, house and yard maintenance, early holiday shopping — and, of course, pumpkin spice season, if you're into it.
Here are NerdWallet’s best tips for making the most of your credit cards this month.
Collect points on your Labor Day cookout
Across the land, Sept. 3 will see the lighting of many a charcoal or gas grill for the American tradition. Maybe you're hosting a Labor Day gathering or football-watching party, or perhaps you're just attending one and need to BYOB. Either way, consider using a credit card that gives you bonus points on your grocery shopping for the holiday weekend.
One of the Nerds' favorite cards for cash back on groceries is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. It earns 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%). Terms apply. This makes it an ideal choice for your barbecue needs, not to mention your everyday necessities.
If you're a guest tasked with bringing the chips and dip, buy your supplies at Walgreens and pay for your gas or your rideshare to the party with the Chase Freedom®. It earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Its bonus categories for this year's third quarter are Walgreens, gas stations and Lyft.
Make housework and yardwork work for you
Winterizing your garden, cleaning your gutters, putting up storm windows, raking the leaves that are piling up on your lawn — all of the home preparations for fall and winter weather can be time-consuming and expensive work.
If you’re going to be making any large home improvement purchases, you may want to investigate the Lowe’s Advantage Card, which offers either 5% off on most purchases or special promotional financing for a large purchase. (Be aware that the latter is a deferred interest promotion, not a waived interest offer.)
If Lowe’s isn’t your go-to, then a general flat-rate cash-back card might be more up your alley.
Get ahead of holiday budget-busters
If you already know what you want to buy for holiday gifts, start looking for opportunities to purchase them at a discount, or for offers that can earn you bonus rewards:
Use your credit card mall to look for bonus cash back. If your card has an online shopping portal, you can likely earn bonus cash back at certain retailers.
See if your issuer offers price protection. Though many issuers are scaling back side perks like price protection, you may want to call to ask whether your issuer still provides it. If so, you can be refunded on price drops for purchases you make with the card.
Earn a sign-up bonus that can help offset costs. Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses and welcome offers for new cardholders who meet certain spending thresholds. See if you can earn some extra cash on a new card for your holiday shopping.
Earn rewards on your fall coffee fix
Pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu at Starbucks for fall 2018. Brand loyalists can roll their caffeine cravings forward by opening a Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, which earns "Stars" that can be redeemed for food and drinks at Starbucks locations. For an annual fee of $49, the card offers a sign-up bonus and instant Gold Status, among other benefits.
If a Starbucks credit card sounds too limiting, you could opt for a card that earns bonus rewards on restaurants in general. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card ($0 annual fee) and the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card ($0 annual fee), for example, both earn triple points on dining, among several other categories.
Information related to the Lowe’s Advantage Card and the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuers of these cards.