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Credit Card Rewards: 3 Ways to Earn More This Holiday Season

Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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Credit card rewards

If it feels like your holiday spending is on par with St. Nick’s, you might want get a little something extra out of it. Check out our three tips for earning more credit card rewards on your holiday buys.

1. Opt into bonus categories for more credit card rewards

Some credit cards, including the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ and Chase Freedom® cards, offer bonus rewards on certain spending categories on a rotating basis. But to take advantage of these extra rewards, you need to opt in quarterly.

Here are the bonus categories for the Discover it® - Cashback Match™:

Q4 2017 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31) and Target
Q1 2018 (Jan. 1 – March 31)Gas stations and wholesale clubs
Q2 2018 (April 1 – June 30)Grocery stores
Q3 2018 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants
Q4 2018 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31) and wholesale clubs

Here are the bonus categories for theChase Freedom®:

Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2017
Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)
Q2 (April 1 - June 30)Grocery stores and drugstores
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants and movie theaters
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Walmart and department stores

2. Use deal sites to shop online for additional rewards

Programs like Discover Deals, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Barclaycard RewardsBoost give you additional rewards for shopping online through their sites. These sites are similar to Ebates and Fat Wallet, but instead of getting cash deposits to your PayPal account, you’ll receive points, miles or cash back based on your card’s rewards program.

Combining this with the bonus categories can net you major rewards. For instance, in the fourth quarter of 2014 you can get 5% back on department store purchases with your Discover it® - Cashback Match™ card. You can also get 10% back on Nordstrom purchases if you use Discover Deals. All this translates into stellar rewards with little effort.

» MORE: How to maximize credit card rewards when shopping

3. Apply for a new credit card with a sign-up bonus

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you could apply for a card with a sign-up bonus. Here are a few recommendations for cards with great sign-up bonuses after required spending:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2x points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. But the card’s real appeal is its outstanding sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. These can be redeemed for cash at 1 cent per point or travel at 1.25+ cents per point. This card is ideal for travelers, both for earning and redeeming rewards.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® offers 2 miles on every $1 spent, which can be redeemed for travel as a statement credit on your account. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it boasts an awesome sign-up bonus: Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.

The takeaway: To earn even more rewards this holiday season, opt into your credit card’s bonus categories, shop online through your issuer’s shopping sites and maybe get a new credit card with a sign-up bonus. Rack up those rewards and redeem them for something nice for you.

Shopper image via Shutterstock