The season of holiday shopping has begun,
and many shoppers are using credit cards to buy gifts.
LowCards.com offers this advice on shopping wisely with credit cards:
- Set a Spending Limit: Change your shopping habits now before you get into the spirit of the season.
- Verify Your Credit Limit Before You Shop: If purchases push you close to your credit limit, this increases your debt utilization ratio, a major component of your credit score. Holiday shopping could cost you even more if your credit score drops and your interest rates go up. The goal is to keep debt utilization under 30%.
- Start Saving Now for the January Credit Card Bill: Look at what you spent last year. If you are still paying that off, then you should reduce spending this year. If you must use a credit card to get through the holidays, try to pay it off in three to six months.
- Get the Lowest Rate Possible: If you carry a balance on your credit card, try to get the lowest rate possible. You can contact your issuer and ask for a lower rate, but it may be time to shop for a new card with a lower rate or a 0% balance transfer rate. If you transfer a balance, pay attention to the balance transfer fee, do not use it for new purchases, and pay your credit card bill on time every month.
- Beware Store Cards: Retail store cards generally have higher interest rates than other cards, some as high as 29%. Store credit cards are a good deal only if you take advantage of the discount offers, then pay off the balance as soon as you get the bill. A 10% discount on purchases does not justify a 28% interest rate.
- Take Advantage of Rewards Programs: Some issuers offer extra rewards through partner programs - discounts or bonuses for online purchases with certain companies, like gift cards or extra cash-back. You can use rewards points for holiday shopping; most can be used online or to purchase gift cards from certain retailers.
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*The APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is based on individual credit worthiness. Rates are subject to change without notice. Some restrictions apply.