Black Friday deals might not be enough to capture the hearts (and wallets) of rewards credit card holders this year, according to new research from Capital One. During the bank's recent Rewards Barometer survey of more than 1,000 consumers with rewards cards, 80 percent of respondents said they planned to surf the Web for the best bargains on holiday gifts and other year-end splurges.
By comparison, only about half as many respondents (40 percent) told researchers they planned to line up at retail stores for deep discounts. Instead, the savviest shoppers plan to stretch their year-end budgets by maximizing their credit card rewards while scouting the Internet for the cheapest prices. With a realistic holiday spending plan, you can stack the right combination of sign-up offers and bonuses to get as much as $300 back in rebates from a single credit card issuer.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One's Rewards Barometer also shows that 23 percent of cash-back credit card holders love using their rebates to treat themselves with retail and restaurant gift cards. In an obliging move, Capital One has cut the redemption price of many popular gift cards by as much as 20 percent for rewards cardholders throughout the holiday season.
For example, a $100 gift card to Macy's or Barnes & Noble will require just $90 in rewards cash or 9,000 Venture miles. Cardholders can also redeem rewards balances for L.L. Bean and Neiman Marcus gift cards for 20 percent less than their face value. While existing cardholders can score big with this promotion, new cardholders still have time to earn sign-up bonuses worth up to $125 in gift cards.
Discover it® card
Discover's getting ready for big Cyber Monday deals, offering customers of the Discover it card a 5-percent cash-back bonus on up to $1,500 in online shopping transactions until the end of the year. However, if you use your card for eligible purchases at the ShopDiscover online mall, your rebate can climb as high as 30 percent.
As in years past, Discover will stack the rebate from its quarterly promotion with partner rebates that range from 5 to 20 percent. For example, purchasing a new iPad Air from either Best Buy or the Apple Online Store via Discover's special links can earn you a 5-percent rebate, plus another 5 percent from the quarterly promotion. Many popular clothing brands offer a 10-percent rebate, while some magazines and discount dining certificates offer 25-percent rebates. Discover has already posted details on more than 200 merchants and their special rebate rates at ShopDiscover.com.
This holiday season, Chase has partnered up with e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com for a deal that combines bonus rewards with discounted shipping. Chase Freedom cardholders will receive 5-percent rebates on up to $1,500 in Amazon purchases during a quarterly promotion that ends on Dec. 31. The deal includes membership in Amazon Prime, a service that includes unlimited two-day shipping on many popular items for a full year.
If you're in the mood to pick out holiday gifts in person, Chase's 5 percent quarterly bonus also applies to transactions at most major department stores, including JCPenney, Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears, Bloomingdale's and Kohl's. Although the promotion doesn't include discount department stores and big box retailers such as Walmart and Target, the mix of online and offline rebate deals can cover just about any shopping list. Plus, new Chase cardholders may qualify for a limited offer signup bonus of $200 (two hundred dollars) after spending $500 within three months from account opening.
Citi® Dividend® Card for College Students
Even students can get in on year-end bonus rewards, with help from Citi. The student edition of their cash-back credit card features toy stores, department stores and Best Buy locations in this quarter's rotating bonus categories for 5-percent rebates. Although this card's reward earnings are capped at 300 Dividend Dollars per calendar year, there's no lower limit on your promotional purchases. Therefore, you can maximize your rebate on up to $6,000 in qualifying transactions, four times as much as this card's close competitors.
Additionally rewards credit cards make the most sense for you if you're planning to carry little or no balance after any zero-APR introductory period. Otherwise, you can quickly rack up fees and finance charges that far outweigh any rebates or rewards you earn. However, with the right approach to account management, you can keep earning rewards on any of these cards throughout the year.
As always, specific deals and offers from any particular credit card issuer can change with little or no notice so be sure to check the issuers website for current information before you apply.
About the Author
Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. New! Curtis is the author of 'How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line' (FT Press, 2008). He is also the co-author of the upcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Pengiun Group USA, April 2009), a contribitor to The Ultimate Allowance (InnerWealth Publishing, 2008) and is extensively featured in 42 RulesTM for Driving Success With Books (Super Star Press, January 2009).