Nov 28, 2016 / Money Tips

Credit Card Tips for the Smart Holiday Shopper

‘Tis the season of overspending, overeating, and listening to Christmas music until your ears bleed. We can’t do much to help you about the last two (earbuds, anyone?), but we do have some credit card tips that will help you be a smart shopper this holiday season.

Follow these steps before, during, and after your holiday shopping to spend less, save more, and reap more credit card rewards.

Tip #1: Plan – Lists and Limits

Before you hit the mall or your favorite online store, plan. Make a list of everyone you plan to buy gifts for, then set a limit on how much you’ll spend. The easiest way to overspend is to shop without a budget, so keep your rear end planted firmly on your sofa at home until you’re plan is set.

Keep your list handy and cross off each name once you’ve selected a gift. This will prevent you from forgetting anyone and being forced to shell out extra cash at the last minute to buy a gift. And remember to total up gift amounts to make sure you’re staying within your spending limit.

Tip #2: Strategy – Reward Yourself

One of the easiest tips to follow is to simply make the most of your credit card reward points. Double-check your card’s reward options so you can get more bang for your buck with each swipe. If you’re using a card that doesn’t include a rewards program, what are you waiting for? The new Orange Platinum Visa from Utah First gives you one reward point for every dollar you spend, and points are redeemable for gift cards or unrestricted travel.

But even more exciting than earning points is that the Orange Platinum Visa comes with cell phone protection—at no charge to the cardholder. Simply pay your monthly cell phone payments using your Orange Platinum Visa from Utah First Credit Union and your phone is covered for cracked screens, irresponsible teens, everyday accidents, loser thieves and forgetful losses—up to $250 per calendar year! Now that’s a rewarding benefit. Apply for your Orange Platinum Visa today.

Tip #3: Security – Leave Your Cards at Home

If you’re brave enough to battle the throngs of mall shoppers, you can avoid cyber security issues by leaving your credit cards at home and use your phone’s payment app instead. This speeds up checkout, keeps your information secure, and deters any would-be pickpockets. You can use your Utah First credit card with Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay.

And before you head to the register, use your phone to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. Many stores offer price mat­ching, so take a few minutes to check competitor stores for lower prices before making a purchase, especially for big-ticket items.

After the Last Piece of Fruitcake Has Been Eaten

We’re just kidding—no one eats the fruitcake. But we’re not kidding about using these final tips to wrap up your holiday shopping loose ends tighter than that professionally-wrapped package:

1. Just say “no” to store credit cards. Yes, they’re typically offered with an attractive discount, but the interest rates are often much higher than what you’ll pay for a major credit card (like Visa)—which means you’ll pay more over the long run. Store cards will also limit where you can shop, whereas a major credit card will let you shop anywhere.

2. Save your receipts. It’s possible the unbelievable bargain price you got on your brother’s fitness tracker is because it doesn’t work—or, you’ve just learned that your aunt is retiring to Key West and won’t need those winter gloves after all. Exchanging or returning an item with the original receipt often ensures you get a full refund or credit. Without it and you may end up getting just a portion of the item’s cost.

3. Don’t forget about the credit card bill. Like it or not, it’s headed your way in January and there’s nothing worse than a surprise bill with an “amount due” higher than your Christmas tree. Set aside some extra savings so you can pay off your holiday balance quickly. The result will be yet another gift: a positive impact on your credit score.

For personalized credit card advice, talk to our team of experts. We can help you open a credit card that will have you feeling merry the whole year. Apply online, give us a call or visit a branch.