Save Money On Holiday Shopping!

It’s that time of the year! The Holiday’s are here, and so you’re writing up that long list of gifts for the season. It’s a three-column list, with names of toys and recipients on one side, and prices on the other. If your list looks anything like mine, then you are itching to pick up that little piece of plastic before you’ve even left the house. Be careful though, because the holiday spirit is everywhere, and it can tempt even the best of us to into going a little bit overboard. Preparation is key, and it’s incredibly important to make sure our credit cards are ready to handle holiday shopping. Let’s know how to save money on holiday shopping!

[Read: Ways that You Can Spend Money Wisely]

Young woman holds a gift wrapped in red paper, isolated on white

Before The Stores

Before you hit the pavement, hunting down those great deals, make sure you’ve got a solid credit foundation to build upon. Here are a couple things you can do to prep your credit for the holidays before you start spending.

  • Do your best to keep your balances low going into the upcoming shopping season. Pay off as much debt as you can, to lower those carry-over interest rates, and maybe even consider balance transfer offers to free up some extra wiggle room.
  • Identity theft is a big threat this time of year, so consider setting up a credit monitoring Many companies offer a free thirty-day trial, or discounts for new customers. Sign up at the beginning of your shopping season, and at the end, you can decide for yourself whether you want to continue using the service or cancel it all together. It offers you piece of mind, and is a great tool to have in your corner of the ring for your credit card during the holidays.
  • If you haven’t taken a close look at your credit report in a while, now is definitely the time to do so. Go to com to get a copy of your full credit report. It outlines the details of any and all open lines of credit under your name, giving you information on their current balances and credit limits. It’s a great refresher for right before this expensive expedition, and can enlighten you as to which cards are safe to use, and which aren’t.

Extra Steps To Take You The Extra Mile

The next few steps are checking out what benefits you can get from you credit cards to lesser the blow of the bills that are right around the corner, so you can make the most out of your holiday shopping spree’s.

  • Any major buys (computers, televisions, vacuum cleaners, etc.) are the types of breakable, expensive items that definitely require a warranty. Double check with your credit card companies to be sure that they offer an extended warranty privilege for these types of purchases. Review your different cardholder agreements closely before going to these stores, so you can make an educated decision on which cards to charge these particular buys to.
  • Not all stores have solid return policies, which can bite gift buyers in the butt, especially when you’re not all too sure of your present. There are, however, certain credit cards that offer return guarantees, like the Discover Card Return Guarantee. This program will refund up to five-hundred dollars on eligible purchases, regardless of whether the store is willing. This is another reason to comb through the fine print before shopping this season.
  • Cash-back options on credit cards have become more and more popular in recent years, spearheaded by Capital One. With reward programs like these, it’s becoming easy to earn certain bonuses with every purchase, and this time of year is the best time to take advantage of this option. They may even make you eligible for certain instant saving bonuses and special deals at your check out.
  • One of my favorite credit card bonuses this time of year, probably the most used weapon in my arsenal, is the Citi Price Rewind benefit that comes with my city bankcard. For every $1,200 I spend a year, I can get up to $300 per item back, that is, if the items price drops within 60 days of my purchase. Citi refunds me the difference. So, say I buy a new Macbook Pro, and then a week later the price drops by about one hundred dollars. Citi would refund me that one hundred as long as the price dropped within sixty days. Pretty neat, huh? Citi isn’t the only bank to offer this either. Speak with a rep at your local bank branch to find out if your credit card might be able to offer you the same great deal.

[Read: How To Get Out Of Debt On A Low Income]

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Being prepared is the key to being ready to go with those credit cards this holiday season. These tips and tricks should make the shopping a bit easier by getting rid of the stress. So, give yourself a Christmas treat, and get those cards primed and ready for some serious swiping. Happy Holidays!