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- This holiday season, Americans are projected to spend more than they did last year.
- Using your credit card rewards can save you money on travel, gifts, and the credit card bill.
- You can also earn rewards by strategically using your credit card to cover groceries, shopping, and travel.
The holiday season is upon us.
Americans’ holiday spending in categories like gifts, food, and decorations is expected to grow 3% to 4% over 2022 levels, according to research from the National Retail Federation. But your holidays don’t have to be more expensive — if you use the right credit card rewards to make those purchases, you can save yourself some money.
If you have already amassed cash back, points, or miles, now can be a good time to use them to get deals on your holiday purchases, from gifts to travel.
Here are three ways to use your credit card rewards for holiday shopping:
1. Redeem miles or points for travel
This is the perfect time to redeem those rewards for holiday travel. This time of year airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel stays are noticeably more expensive.
If you have points or miles to redeem or a travel credit card that offers more value when you redeem points through the credit card issuer’s portal, taking advantage is a great way to save money on travel and maximize your rewards. In fact, Business Insider’s calculations of what points and miles are worth shows that redeeming points for travel is often the most lucrative use.
2. Gift cards
Gift cards can be an effective redemption option to cross gift-buying off your list. Gift cards are the No. 1 gift list request for nearly six in ten (59%) consumers, according to the National Retail Federation’s holiday survey.
Many credit card rewards portals allow you to get gift cards for popular department stores, such as Macy’s, Kohls, and Bloomingdale’s; electronics stores such as Best Buy; and restaurants such as The Cheesecake Factory and Macaroni Grill. You can buy the cards as gifts, or — if you’re looking for something to wrap — buy the cards at a discount to use as cash yourself.
3. Statement credit
Redeeming rewards for statement credit can be a good idea to reduce the cost of your bill. You might see this in the form of cash back, or a “pay yourself back” option on your bank’s website. Once the holidays are over and that credit card bill arrives in the new year, opting for statement credit can help offset some of the cost of your holiday shopping.
Now is the time to earn rewards, too
If you want to earn rewards on your purchases instead of redeeming them, think about the kind of holiday shopping you will be doing. There are all kinds of rewards you can earn.
If you will be entertaining guests with home-cooked meals, use one of the best credit cards for buying groceries. If you will be traveling, pull out one of the best travel credit cards to rack up miles and points. And if you will be doing most of the shopping for the wish list, use a cash back credit card, or one that offers rewards for shopping.