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Credit card Christmas?

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Monday, December 19, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

Are Americans charging Christmas more this year? Two recent reports suggest so.

Last week, Discover Financial Services said sales volume and the total number of transactions rose in its fiscal fourth quarter. The period ended Nov. 30, capturing the beginning of the holiday shopping rush.

Executives at the credit card issuer didn't attribute the increase to more consumers using credit cards for holiday shopping. Instead, they said Discover has become the "primary card" for more shoppers. Other factors? More retailers accept the card, and, similar to other issuers, Discover is offering some lucrative cash-back rewards promotions for the holiday season.

Like what, you ask? How about 2 percent cash back on up to $250 in purchases at Amazon.com through the year? Or, 5 percent cash-back bonus on up to $300 in purchases at restaurants, department stores and clothing stores on the Discover More card. Other cash-back bonuses are available for those who shop online at ShopDiscover.

That seems like quite the incentive to either pull out your Discover card instead of another one, or pull out your Discover card more this year.

And that takes us to Michigan, where a survey from a retailers' association group there found that credit card sales jumped 10 percent between Black Friday and Dec. 11 from last year. That echoes an earlier survey from UBS and America's Research Group that found 27 percent of Black Friday shoppers used credit cards, up from 16 percent in 2010.

The interesting question is why. Are Americans feeling just a little bit better than they did last year and don't mind putting Christmas on credit? So far, payment behavior has held up.

Or, are consumers fed up with the frugality they've indulged in the last few years and thrown caution to the wind when it comes to charging holiday gifts? I guess we'll find out in January when the holiday debt hangover begins.

How are you using your credit card this holiday season?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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2 Comments
Joe
December 20, 2011 at 10:47 am

ShopDiscover is really lucrative for cash back right now. My brother and I bought a TV for my mom from Target. 10% cash back for buying it through Shop Discover at Target.com. The wife wants some Sephora stuff for Christmas, 15% cash back. Barnes and Noble for Elf on the shelf, 15% cash back. My wife likes the Discover website a lot too. She says it's the most user friendly one out there and she's on it a lot making sure we stay on budget.