As shoppers gear up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’d like to offer you a story on how they can use their credit cards wisely and keep their spending in check.
The majority of Americans are going to use their credit cards this holiday season:
- more than half will be shopping online where credit cards are the primary means of payment
- half of us will use our best credit cards for in-store purchases
The temptation to sign up for a retailer’s promotional credit card to score a better deal is high, but what shoppers don’t know is not all cards are equal— many of the promotional interest rates and rewards won’t match the long-term benefits of non-seasonal cards.
1. Resist the Temptation of the 0% Interest Rate:
Beware of in-store promotional cards that offer an initial store discount. An introductory 0% interest rate can quickly leap to over 20% with just one late payment. Also, when you apply for a new card, an inquiry is made to the credit bureau, which may slightly lower your credit score.
2. Watch Out for Sky-High Interest Rates:
Some credit card rates have gone up more than 20% this year! With additional consumer protection laws going into effect in February 2010 that will impact issuer’s profits, we’re likely to see unstable variable interest rates continue to rise. Make sure you have a careful look at the fine print now to see how high those variables can go and what is the true credit card cost.
3. Enjoy Return Policies:
Around the holidays, many credit cards offer “return protection” which means your issuer will take back most items that the retailer will no longer accept, up until 90 days of the original purchase. This is great for early shoppers who may want to make returns after a store’s standard 14-30 day return policy expires.
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4. Take Advantage of Post-Holiday Price Adjustments:
Surprise! Some credit cards actually have price adjustment policies for 60 days, so if your favorite store slashed prices after the holidays, you could be eligible for a refund of the difference in cost.
5. Make Sure You are Getting Rewarded
Rewards credit cards can make a big difference in the total price you pay for items. You can get as much as 2% back on purchases with an airmiles reward credit cards or when you use the best travel card available.
6. Know how much you are spending on your credit card:
You’ll save yourself money and a major headache if you make sure you’ve got enough cash in the bank to cover your credit card spending. Go online to get the latest amount in your checking account, and subtract the amount you spent on your credit cards on those holiday gifts. This will give you a good sense of whether or not you have enough to pay your bill on time. Be sure to buy frugal Christmas gifts, too!
Guest post by BillShrink.com, the free online service that saves people money on everyday bills, has compiled recommendations on the best credit cards for different types of holiday shoppers, coupled with tips on how to how to avoid getting hurt by issuers’ sneaky fine print.