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Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday to express gratitude and converge with family members over a table groaning with food. But a similar holiday is gaining popularity. Friendsgiving can be held on any day close to Thanksgiving, and the purpose is to gather, dine and appreciate life’s abundance with the non-relatives in your life.
Younger adults, especially, tend to participate in Friendsgiving. According to a 2022 YPulse survey, 39 percent of millennials and 36 percent of Gen Zers say they will be attending or hosting a Friendsgiving celebration this year.
As with Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving has associated costs — and they may be higher than usual this year. Inflation has pushed food, gas and travel prices to uncomfortable heights. The good news is that you can save money and enjoy this gratitude party by funding it with credit cards.
Keep costs down with conscious purchasing
Friendsgiving can be a casual affair with paper plates and a potluck buffet or a formal dinner with fine china and a multi-course meal served by hired waiters. Whichever way you do it, if you’re the host, you may be picking up the majority of the expenses.
You can keep the friends’ version of Thanksgiving costs as low as possible and avoid an overwhelming credit card balance with a little preplanning. With interest rates increasing, you don’t want to go into the rest of your holidays and 2023 with excess financial obligations.
Begin by knowing how much you’re comfortable spending. The figure should not impact your ability to pay essential bills and out to be no more than you can charge and repay in full. So if it’s $300, that’s your limit.
Develop a list of the things you need to buy, and fit them within the amount you’ve allocated. Shop early so you have time to find the lowest prices.
Then use a credit card that enables you to earn a maximum amount of points on the things you need. You will likely be hitting the grocery store a little harder than normal, so review your cards and use the one that enables you to earn the most rewards at supermarkets, such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gives 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent). Pay off the bill when it arrives so no interest is added and you profit from the earned rewards.
Pay Friendsgiving expenses with credit card rewards
If you have a cash back credit card, check your cash credit balance. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much you have available. Now it’s time to use the money for Friendsgiving! Depending on how much you have, the funds can make a big dent in your costs, from stocking up on matching wine glasses to buying a turkey and a few pies.
In addition to using the cash as a statement credit after you make the charges, some credit card issuers allow you to electronically transfer the money into your linked bank account.
You can also earn cash quickly for your Friendsgiving purchases. With many cards, you can get a generous sign-up bonus after meeting a minimum spend. For example, with the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, you will get $200 after spending $1,500 in the first six months of opening the account.
But if you don’t want to spend that much or can’t wait until you do, you may want to consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card*. You can get up to a $150 Amazon gift card as soon as you’re approved, without having to meet a minimum spend. It also offers 5 percent cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods, so if you need anything extra, you can rack up more rewards fast.
Fly to friends (or have them come to you) for less
If your friends don’t live close by, and if driving is not an option, you may be flying to meet up. This is where a good travel credit card can come in handy. If you have one, check to see how many points or miles you have accumulated. You may have enough to cover the cost of a flight. If so, book fast. Since Friendsgiving is usually celebrated in the month of November, expect the price to be high, as last-minute fares can be very expensive.
Even if you don’t have enough rewards for the full fare, you can at least reduce the cost with the points or miles you do have. When you buy the ticket through the credit issuer’s travel portal, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can buy the remaining points or miles to pay for the difference.
You can also use your travel card rewards to purchase airline tickets for others. Many people are struggling financially, so if a friend doesn’t have enough money to come see you for your Friendsgiving celebration, you can buy a ticket for them with your points or miles. There’s no need to transfer the rewards to that person; just book the ticket with their personal information for them.
Spend the night at a hotel for free
If you have a card that’s co-branded with a hotel chain, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, you’re entitled to a free night award every year after your account anniversary. Have you used it yet? This is the perfect time to do so, since you may not want to sleep on your old college roommate’s couch, however welcoming he or she is.
Most hotel cards also allow you to earn rewards eligible for additional night stays by charging throughout the year, so you may have more loyalty points to trade in than you think. For example, if you charged $15,000 with The World of Hyatt Credit Card* in 2022, a free night’s stay is available to you now.
Maximizing these kinds of credit card rewards can free up funds that you want to spend on other Friendsgiving expenses. So not only can you save $200 or more per night on lodging, you won’t wake up cramped from trying to sleep on a short sofa.
Be grateful, no matter how much you spend
Friendsgiving is a marvelous opportunity to spend the evening with people you care about but who aren’t necessarily related to you. These are your friends. There is no need to impress them with things you can’t afford. The pleasure is their company, as you laugh, talk, eat and drink. Be grateful for every light-hearted moment. After all, you may soon be with relatives with whom you have to be a little more careful with the conversation as you sit around that Thanksgiving table.
*All information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and The World of Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.