Ways to Manage your Credit Cards during the Holiday Season
It’s that time of year again for family, celebration and of course spending money. Enter the holiday season prepared for battle. Budget out your holiday spending so you can enjoy the New Year instead of being stressed out over credit card debt.
Always follow a budget
Making a budget can seem tedious, but it will save headaches in the long-run. First, come up with a total dollar amount that you are able to spend. You must be completely honest with yourself so no fudging numbers.
Before buying that first gift make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for then write down ideas of what you would like to buy them. Do research on the internet to get a ballpark figure of what each gift will cost. Take the list and eliminate gift ideas until the total dollar amount is at or below your predetermined budget.
Be aware of fraud
There is a significant increase in credit card fraud and identify theft during the holiday season. Make sure to frequently check your credit card balance and statement online. Flag any unusual purchases and contact your credit card company right away.
Never use debit cards during this time of year. There isn’t much protect ion for debit card fraud. Most credit cards have fraud alerts and some have programs that will erase any fraudulent purchases. Make sure to contact your credit card company so you are aware of what programs they offer.
Use those reward points
Several credit cards offer rewards programs and cash back bonuses. Many of the points earned during these programs can be cashed out as gift cards. If you save up throughout the year these rewards can be used to pay for holiday gifts and maybe even get yourself something special.
Best time of year to get a new credit card
Most credit card companies offer some type of incentive to sign up with them. There is usually some type of zero percent interest rate on new purchases for three, six, or even twelve months. If you do expect to have an outstanding balance left over from holiday shopping then getting a new credit card with an interest rate deal would be the way to go.
If you can’t afford it then don’t buy it
The bottom line is that if you can’t afford it this year then don’t buy it. Your friends and family will understand that you can’t add to your credit card debt. Even cheaper gifts with a personal significance or even something handmade can mean much more than an expensive gift.
The holiday season is about being with friends and family. Holiday celebration doesn’t mean racking up new credit card debt. Shop wisely and with a budget so you still have some money left over for New Years.
This article was written by Steven Moore, who has been covering consumer finance and the credit card markets since 2006. You can learn more and connect at his Google+ page.