5 tips for maximizing your credit card rewards this holiday season
From earning welcome bonuses to redeeming your points for charitable donations, credit card users have a variety of ways to get the most from their card rewards during the holidays.
A few months ago, Gideon Lakew started planning the holiday trips he takes each year to visit family members across the U.S. Always on the lookout for a good deal, he signed up for a new credit card, used it to pay for the airfare, and earned 30,000 bonus rewards points.
“I’m a big believer in using credit cards in a smart way,” said Lakew, a regional bank branch manager for Wells Fargo in Houston. “With that holiday travel coming up, I knew I’d be buying a lot of plane tickets and it could get expensive, so I was able to redeem my new card rewards bonus to help pay for the tickets.”
Lakew signed up for Wells Fargo’s new Propel® Card, which offers one of the industry’s highest rewards welcome bonuses to new cardholders: 30,000 bonus points (a $300 cash redemption value) if you spend $3,000 in qualified purchases in the first three months.
In addition to the new member bonus, Lakew said the card’s overall points redemption program resonated with him as well — you earn 3 points per $1 spent for purchases in certain categories ranging from travel (flights, hotels, ride-shares, and homestays), gas stations, and rental cars, to eating out, ordering in, and popular streaming services. You can also earn 1 point per $1 for other eligible spending.
“All in all, great for the holiday shopping,” he said.
For savvy consumers like Lakew, using the right credit card rewards strategy at the holidays can save big bucks. According to a recent article in MarketWatch, cardholders who are disciplined and typically pay off their balances each month will find that “credit cards are an awesome tool to earn extra money around the holidays via cash back and/or travel rewards.”
In recent years, increasingly sweeter rewards offers have become a magnet for new customers in the competitive credit card industry. A recent survey by J.D. Power revealed that almost half (47 percent) of credit card users who switched to a new card in the past 12 months did so for better rewards. It would not be surprising if much of that switching takes place at the holidays, said Beverly Anderson, head of Wells Fargo Cards and Retail Services business.
“From stocking stuffers to big-ticket items, there are many opportunities to maximize credit card rewards to stretch your dollars this holiday season,” she said. “There are also many lesser-known ways to spread the holiday cheer by sharing your rewards with others and redeeming points to a gift card to share with your favorite charity.”