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3 card tips for holiday shopping

By Lucy Lazarony · Bankrate.com
Monday, November 7, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and credit card issuers are rolling out all kinds of promotions to encourage holiday shoppers to charge their way through holiday shopping lists.

"Consumers lose their minds a little bit" around the holiday shopping season, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com.

If you have trouble staying out of credit card debt, you'll want to be kind to your wallet and your credit while shopping this holiday season. These holiday credit card tips will help you stay on track.

Think twice before opening store cards. Store credit cards may promise a nifty store discount, but they typically also come with low credit lines and high interest rates. Ulzheimer recommends using a general use credit card with a low interest rate instead.

"Forgo the discount, and use an existing card with a high credit line," Ulzheimer says. "It's better for you financially and it's better for your credit."

Use a credit card with the lowest interest rate. Many credit card issuers are courting card customers with special rewards promotions this holiday season. But if you plan to carry a balance of holiday purchases well into the new year, you're better off ignoring all those credit card rewards promotions that encourage spending.

"Forget about the rewards," Ulzheimer says. "Pick the card with the absolute lowest interest rate."

 

Use one card for all your holiday shopping. More plastic means more temptation when shopping for the holidays, says Gail Cunningham, vice president of public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

"When you spread spending among multiple cards, it feels like you're spending less," Cunningham says. "It's better to put all your spending on one card and keep track of it."

But keep the credit limit of the card in mind. A maxed-out credit card can lower your credit score.

If you plan to pay your balances in full, feel free to choose a rewards credit card for all of your holiday shopping purchases.

"Pick the card that has the best reward, and use that card for all your holiday shopping," Ulzheimer says. "When the bill comes, pay it off."

For more holiday savings tips, follow @Bankrate on Twitter.

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1 Comment
Jim Marler
November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Don't waste you money on things you really don't need. We all buy stuff that we think we need when later it turns out as a waste.