5 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Disasters on Mother's Day

Written by Beverly Blair Harzog
Posted On: May 5, 2010

American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser.

Using a credit card is a great way to pay for a Mother's Day gift. But while you're focused on choosing the perfect gift, you might be setting yourself up for a credit card disaster. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure Mother's Day goes smoothly.

1. Know your credit card limits. You've just had a lovely brunch with Mom. But now the waiter comes to your table to tell you that your card's been declined. Sure, your mom's not the boss of you anymore, but no one wants to get that "Mom" look that says, "Are you in debt up to your eyeballs?" Reaching your limit should never be a surprise to you, but make extra sure it won't happen at brunch with your mom.

2. Ask her what she wants. Many of us have decided that when it comes to pleasing Mom, surprises are overrated. If you're taking her out to a fancy restaurant, ask her where she'd love to go for her special day. If you take her to a place she doesn't like, you've got the expense on your credit card and you have to pay the bill even though your mom isn't happy. If you must make it a surprise to feel like you've done a good job, make it a non-food purchase and focus on something that's returnable. And, no, a blender is a not a good idea.

3. Know what your rewards card covers. If you're depending on a rewards card to help you pay for dinner or a gift, make sure you're familiar with the terms and conditions in your disclosure statements. Credit cards with reward features are a wonderful thing, but if you don't use them properly, you'll end up with a credit card bill that's higher than what you were comfortable spending.

4. Give her an AmEx gift card. In case you're not sure, by Mom standards, this is a fairly impersonal gift. Here's how you sweeten the deal: Tell her that you'll go with her to spend it. Then accompany her wherever she wants to go, whether it's to a restaurant or to buy azaleas at the gardening store. And, yes, if she buys the azaleas and asks you to plant them, you have to say yes.

5. Save money on traditional gifts. Are you on a tight budget? No need to go into credit card debt. Give her flowers and chocolates at a reduced rate. Buy her Ghirardelli chocolate and save 15 percent when you use your VISA card. Check out the recently launched MasterCard Marketplace where you can get 25 percent off flowers from FTD plus a whole lot more from other service providers when you use your MasterCard.

Posted in Credit Card Help
About the author:
Beverly Blair Harzog
Beverly Blair Harzog is a spokeswoman and contributing editor for CardRatings.com. She's a former CPA and an award-winning personal finance journalist. She's a former columnist for the Navy Federal Credit Union's magazine, Home Port, and has written about credit issues for CNNMoney.com, FoxBusiness.com, Good Housekeeping, Bankrate.com, Bottom Line Wealth, CreditCards.com, AARP Bulletin Today, and more. She's also the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Penguin, April 2009). Follow her on Twitter @beverlyharzog .
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