No matter if you are an early or late shopper, during the gift-buying season you’re likely to use your credit cards for your holiday shopping. This past Black Friday weekend an estimated 247 million shoppers marched into retail stores and shopped online. On average each shopper spent over $400; altogether shoppers spent over $59 billion during the four-day extravaganza.
It may be unknown how the majority of shoppers paid for their purchase but we can assume it was with plastic. According to the Federal Reserve Board, last year consumers raked up more than $850 billion in credit card debt during the month of December. Luckily, using your credit cards during the holidays can actually be a good spending strategy.
If you’re like many other consumers who turn to credit cards for holiday shopping, here are a few ways it can be to your advantage.
When you’re looking for a deal – Your credit card may have an established relationship with retailers that offer discounts to cardholders. You might be able to find discounts on your purchases, free shipping, or earn extra points for shopping with that retailer.
When you need something shipped – Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act your purchases are protected if you need to dispute any item you purchased that arrived damaged or failed to be delivered. This protection works for items over $50 that were purchased in your home state or within 100 miles of your home. The best time to use the protection is if you have attempted to dispute the issue with the retailer and it has not been resolved. As always it’s best to also document your issues with pictures, receipts, and copies of the dispute, etc.
When You Find Your Item for Less – Cost protection is available on some credit cards, not all. The protection is similar to the price-matching deals many retailers are offering during the holiday shopping season. If you happen to find a lower price for an item you purchased with your credit card, you could be eligible to receive the difference. How much you receive and how long the process takes depends on your credit card. Make sure you check if your card offers the price-protection feature.
Don’t be afraid to use your credit cards for those big purchases this holiday season, as long as you use good credit card strategies. Pay off your balances, make your payments on time, and use the credit cards that work to your advantage.