Use your credit card like a pro and spend for less these holidays
Learn how to manage your holiday spending credit card this silly season so you don’t end up paying for it in the new year. Nearly all credit cards offer Interest free days on purchases, and some cards give you extended interest free terms and many months to pay back what you’ve spent. If you do end up spending more than you should have, consider a balance transfer for a break on your interest repayments. Make use of your credit card’s features and special promotions so you can glide through your Christmas shopping and holiday spending without it putting a serious dent in your bank account.
Credit cards to help avoid Christmas debt
Remember that credit cards are a credit product and should be used responsibly. Borrowing money costs money, but there are cards you can use for interest free purchases this Christmas. 99% of credit cards come with interest free days. This is a credit card feature that allows you to make interest free purchases with your credit card as long as you pay back what you spend when your statement comes.
So how long do you think you’ll need to pay back your holiday spending? If you need longer than a month and a half, you may want to go for a credit card with an extended low interest or interest free promotion on purchases. These cards gives you a longer period to pay back the balance without incurring interest.
0% purchase offer credit cards
A credit card with a 0% purchase rate promotion allows you to make interest free purchases for the length of the promotional period. At the end of the promo period, the ongoing purchase rate of interest is charged on anything you have not paid back. These cards could be a cheap and easy form of finance over the holiday period. At the end of the promotional purchase period, the ongoing purchase rate of interest is charged on anything you haven’t paid back.
Low rate credit cards
Low rate credit cards cost less to use for purchases. As well as a low rate of interest, they have ‘up to’ a number of interest free days on purchases. This makes them ideal if you plan on carrying a balance into the new year.
Rewards credit cards
In the table you can see some rewards credits cards that also offer interest free terms. While the purchase rate promotion is active, you will earn rewards or frequent flyer points on the eligible purchases you charge to the account.
Credit cards to get you out of Christmas debt
A balance transfer saves you money in interest repayments. Get approved for one of these credit cards and bring your credit card debt to the card when you apply. Get a special interest rate on your balance so you can pay it off and be free of debt sooner.
Balance transfer credit card comparison
Ideas for dealing with holiday credit card debt
- Put away your credit cards. Maybe not forever, but at least until your debt is paid off you should stop using them completely. Do whatever you need to do to stop adding to your debt. The last thing you want to do is to make things worse by paying interest on interest.
- Make large payments right away. This is especially important if you have interest free days available. By paying off as much as you can afford during that period you greatly reduce the amount of your balance. That amount is what you will be charged interest on, a higher balance means more interest.
- Find some extra money. Sell unused items in your home, rent a room to a traveller. Do what you need to do to pay your debt.
- Set a goal that you can reach. Just because it only took you a month or two to get into holiday credit card debt does not mean it will take you only that long to get out of it. Try to set a goal that is reachable without forcing yourself to struggle too much to attain it. Also, make sure you leave yourself room between the pay off date and the next holiday just to breathe and enjoy being debt free.
Paying off your holiday credit card debt is important. Too often people wind up stressed out and miserable at holiday time because they still have not paid of last years expenses. All you have to do is find a debt reduction plan that works for you and stick to it.
Tips for using a credit card over Christmas
Make use of interest free days to get the most from your credit card this Christmas.
Already got a credit card?
If you’ve already got a credit card and you’re reading this page looking for information about how to use it these holidays, you should have cleared your November balance so you can take advantage of ‘up to’ interest free days for your December purchases. We’ve covered off how to manage your purchases and your statement to maximise the number of interest free days you actually get, but a general way to look at it is simply pay your balance back in full when you statement comes so you can make interest free purchases the next month.
Are you getting a new credit card for Christmas?
If you want to apply for a credit card, you need to know what you want to use the card for and how you’re going to pay it back. Are you getting a credit card purely to use for shopping and holiday spending? Compare credit cards with extended interest free terms. This can give you a couple of months extra to pay back your what you’ve spent without incurring interest charges.
If you’re confident you can pay back what you’ve spent within the interest free period, you may also want to consider a rewards product. These credit cards give you rewards or frequent flyer points when you make an eligible purchase. However, the interest charges are high on these credit cards. if interest is charged, it often negates any value of the rewards.
Safe holiday shopping online
How safe is it to use your credit card to shop for Christmas on the internet
Using your credit card on the Internet is a great way to make purchases. You can track down pretty much anything you want in any part of the world and have it winging its way to you within a matter of hours.
If the worst happens, and your credit card details are misappropriated and used fraudulently, don’t panic. Mastercard, Visa and American Express have no liability guarantees in place which mean you’re not held liable for unauthorised use of your credit card provided you comply with the terms of their agreements — available from their respective websites. Be aware that lending a wayward sibling your credit card for one purchase and then having them splurge on thousands of dollars worth of goods is not considered fraud. That would be your liability.
Card providers should also be using the Falcon automated fraud detection service that monitors card purchases. Falcon scores each purchase you make, weighing factors such as time of purchase, physical location, dollar amount, merchant name, and past usage patterns. If something looks wrong, you will be immediately contacted to verify the purchase.
When you’re shopping online, look for a little locked padlock symbol when you are in the checkout area of a website. You should also make sure the site address starts with https not just http, as the https says it’s a secure site. Generally assess the look of the site as well. If you have any doubts, shop elsewhere.
How to find the ideal credit card for you at Christmas
Rewards or low rate credit card?
A low rate credit card costs you less to use to make purchases than a rewards credit card. But the interest rate doesn’t matter if you clear your balance each month; you’ll get interest free days on your purchases. Ask yourself whether you will be able to avoid interest costs by making use of the ‘up to’ interest free days feature.
If you can’t pay back what you’re planning on spending, a card with a extended promotion on purchases may be good value. If you can pay back what you spend when your statement comes, and you plan on spending a lot this holiday season, why not compare and apply for a credit card with rewards? You can use these card to make interest free purchases and you can use your Christmas spending to give you frequent flyer points balance a kick.
Store credit cards can be an enemy rather than a friend
Pay attention to the fine print if you take up in-store finance. Some institutions have arrangements with different merchants. Consumers can get interest free terms for periods longer than a year when they apply for finance and shop at a particular merchant. If you keep spending on these products once you’ve used it for it’s primary purpose, you’ll get stung by high interest charges and may end up paying more than you should have.
The revert rate
Everyday credit cards with extended purchase rate promotional periods also revert to the ongoing purchase rate of interest once the promotion ends. This rate is higher than the promotional rate and could see your interest repayments shoot up when you get your statement.
Avoid a budget blowout
At some stage most of us have probably swindled our way around a particular expensive purchase at some stage when questioned by wife or hubby. Sometimes comically, we ALWAYS justify our purchase, no matter the usefulness or expense.
If you do indulge in impulse buying, what are your vices? Are you a technology lover, do you own hundreds of pairs of shoes, or can’t you get enough of sports paraphernalia? Tell us, we want to know your guilty pleasures of shopping.
How to prevent a rude awakening
Consider the following so you can enjoy the rosy afterglow of a great trip away from home or a splurging on Christmas.
- Do you REALLY NEED this? Before you swipe your card for that sexy new dress, or the glitzy Jimmy Choo’s, you need to ask yourself whether you REALLY need to make this purchase. It often helps to sleep on a decision before you actually buy.
- Do you want this item because of your current state of emotion? You’d be surprised to learn how often we buy because of our emotions. Often when we are sad, frustrated or angry we are in need of a quick fix – shopping. Avoid the trap and recognise the signs, then treat yourself to a cheaper way to fix the issue at hand. Try a cup of coffee, yoga, a brisk walk, or talking to your partner instead.
- Avoid peer pressure. Peer pressure is as big if not bigger than at school. When you travel with an adult friend who can generally afford to spend more money than you, it’s easy to get sucked into their flashy lifestyle. But don’t! Unless you are ready to deal with the consequences when you get back home. The ideal way to beat this trap is by not travelling with rich friends, unless they pay the bill.