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6 tips for using credit cards this holiday season

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Credit cards during the holiday season

Quentin Jones / Getty

The holidays are here and these tips can help you use your credit cards to maximize your savings and protect your purchases. Whether you’re spending on gifts for family and friends, on a trip, or whatever, the right credit card with the right features can help you increase your budget and make your seasonal transactions as smooth as possible.

1. Use virtual card numbers when shopping online

It is possible for crooks to get their hands on your credit card information online when making purchases. When this happens, you will likely have to close your account and wait for a new card to be issued. To avoid this problem, many credit card companies offer one-time “virtual account numbers” for making online purchases. You will receive a unique 16-digit card number, expiration date and CVV which you can use to make a secure purchase with your account without entering your actual card information. For credit cards that offer this feature, such as select selected Citi cards and the new Card X1*, simply log into your account and request a virtual account number – it must be generated on site.

2. Use the best refund rates

Using one of the best cash back credit cards is a proven way to maximize your savings while on vacation. If you plan to make both physical and online purchases, the Wells Fargo Active Payment Card* offers a 2% lump sum cash reward on purchases. If most of your holiday shopping is done online, you might want to consider the Bank of America Personalized Cash Rewards Credit Card* or the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card*.

With the Custom Cash Rewards card, you can choose to receive 3% cash back on your online purchases (and 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to a total of $ 2,500 spent in the 3% and 2% categories per quarter, then 1%). With the Visa Signature Amazon Prime Rewards card, you can enjoy 5% cash back on all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases if you have a Prime membership, among other benefits.

3. Use a card with purchase protection

Many people have credit card benefits that they are not even aware of that are hidden in the fine print. Many credit cards offer purchase protection against damage and theft, which acts as insurance for your gifts. For a certain number of days – typically 90 to 120 days – purchases you make on the card that are stolen or damaged may be refunded up to certain value thresholds. For example, the Unlimited freedom hunt is one of the best cash back credit cards that offers purchase protection for 120 days on purchases made with the card. If an item you purchased is damaged or stolen by you or your gift recipient, you can receive up to $ 500 per claim and up to $ 50,000 per account.

4. Use a card with anti-trip protection

If you are traveling for vacation, some credit cards offer travel, hotel, car rental, and other insurance benefits for cardholders at no additional cost. Travel protection and trip cancellation insurance are common features of some credit cards – again, just look at the fine print. There may be a wide range of protections offered on travel related purchases made on your card, such as rental car insurance, reimbursements for delayed flights and other trip interruptions, baggage insurance and sometimes more. . The Chase Liberty Flex is a comprehensive card that offers full trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

5. Use a welcome bonus

If you’re going to spend anyway – and you’re in the market for a new credit card – you might as well reward yourself with a new credit card login bonus. Many login bonuses, or welcome bonuses, can earn you up to several hundred dollars in cash back, statement credit, reward points, or travel miles. If you’re looking for a credit card just to take advantage of the sign-in bonus, we recommend one with no annual fee, like the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card*, all of which offer a login bonus of $ 200 after spending $ 500 in the first three months of opening an account.

Read more: The best credit card welcome bonuses for 2021

6. Use a card with a 0% introductory APR

You can apply for a 0% introductory APR credit card for long-term interest-free financing on your vacation purchases. While many cards offer an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 12-15 months on average, some offer longer periods – like the American Bank Visa Platinum Card, which offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases (and balance transfers) for 20 billing cycles (APR varies from 14.49% to 24.49% thereafter). One of your current cards may also have 0% funding – you can find out by looking at your account offers online. Some cards often offer 0% funding offers even after the account has been open for a while. As always, be careful not to overdo vacation spending and make sure you can make your monthly payments in full.

More of our credit card recommendations

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective and independent reviews of our editors and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It was not supplied or ordered by a third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

* All information on X1 Card, Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card, Visa Signature Amazon Prime Rewards Card, Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by CNET and have not been reviewed. by the issuer.

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