Many people fall victim to holiday credit card pitfalls every year due to a lack of knowledge about credit, in addition to failure to adequately prepare for holiday shopping using a credit card.
Should you open a retailer branded credit card?
One of the major pitfalls of holiday credit card usage is that consumers often get convinced by retailers to open a department store branded credit card in order to realize about 10 to 15% savings on purchases at those retailers. While these savings may be tempting, most people don’t realize that the credit cards offered by these retailers generally feature a very high interest rate. If you, as a consumer, plan to carry a balance on this new credit card at all, then you will lose the amount of money that you originally saved by opening the card, and more. In addition to these high interest rates, opening new lines of credit too often in a small period of time has the potential to damage your credit score. As a rule of thumb, respectfully decline when retailers ask you if you want to open a new credit card with them to receive a discount on your purchases.
Set yourself a holiday shopping credit limit
Consumers can avoid putting too many gifts on credit simply by setting themselves their own personal limit, and keeping track of what they buy. For example, a consumer could set a personal limit of $500 to spend on credit during this holiday season, and when they reach that limit, they have to stop putting purchases on their credit card and instead start paying in cash. While its always tempting to spend a bunch of money to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, they will understand if you simply cannot afford to spend outside of your means. If you’re looking for a good way to monitor your spend, many credit card companies offer free mobile apps that allow you set up alerts that notify you when you’ve reached a certain spend.
How can using a credit card for your holiday shopping benefit you?
Using a credit card for your holiday shopping, however, can definitely benefit cardholders because of the vast amount of rewards that can be gained by putting purchases on your credit card. You should compare rewards credit cards in order to maximize the rewards you will receive based on your spending habits. As long as you know you can afford to pay off your balance without incurring large interest fees, you should put your holiday purchases on your credit card because most credit cards offer some sort of reward for each dollar spent.
photo by paparutzi