5 ways to play cupid with credit cards this Valentine's Day

By , CardRatings contributor

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Want to treat your sweetheart this Valentine's Day? Although motivated by love, Valentine's Day can quickly become an expensive affair. Last year CNN estimated that the average American spent $130.97 per person for a total spending of $18.6 billion. But you can use your credit card to make the holiday less expensive for you and more special for your loved one.

Here are five ways to use your credit card to have a romantic Valentine's Day:

1. Use special Valentine's Day offers

Most major cards offer special deals through merchant partners on Valentine's Day with related gifts this time of year. Often, the offers are a significant savings over the regular price and the only catch is that you have to use your credit card to pay for the purchase. Check your preferred card's website for discounts on everything from beautiful bouquets to chocolate-dipped strawberries.

2. Take a getaway (even if it's just down the street)

What's more romantic than checking into a fancy hotel and sharing room service with your honey? Liz Weston, personal finance expert and author of "Deal with Your Debt," recommends checking to see what hotels you can book using your rewards points. "Be sure to look at orphaned credit card accounts since you might have enough points for a one-night stay," says Weston. "Find a nice resort hotel that you can reserve with your points. Getaways are so important as a couple and a great way to celebrate a romantic Valentine's Day."

3. Call a concierge

If you find yourself empty-handed as Feb. 14 approaches, check to see if your credit card offers a concierge service. Many high-end credit cards will help you find the best deal or even a special perk you can't get on your own. "If you don't have the time or can't get into a special restaurant, the concierge may be able to score theater tickets or reservations," says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action. "They can even help you get flowers delivered at the last minute or score a rental car when the agency tells you that none are available."

4. Pull out the credit card with the best rewards

When you go to buy the roses or pay for dinner, be sure to pick up the tab using your credit card with the highest rewards. Since some cards offer higher rewards on certain types of purchases, take a few minutes to look at each reward program before heading out to shop for Valentine's Day. You may be able to fund your summer vacation or even next Valentine's Day by thinking ahead. "Watch statement inserts or email alerts from your credit card issuer for increased rewards earnings opportunities when you make purchases in certain categories -- for example grocery, restaurant, and retail -- or during specified time periods," says Sarah Ely, vice president of communications at MasterCard Worldwide.

5. Use points to buy merchandise or gift cards

While many people think of travel when they think of redeeming credit card points, you can also use points to purchase merchandise, including flowers, jewelry and even candy. Check out your credit card reward program to see if what gifts are available within your acquired points. Although many people don't think gift cards are romantic, they are often the best value when redeeming points. Consider redeeming the points for a gift card and then purchasing your Valentine's Day gifts yourself with the card. Your sweetie never has to know you used a gift card. "Keep track of rewards expiration dates to be sure you leverage your hard-earned points before they expire. Making purchases for loved ones with points that are about to expire can help you check off your list and leverage your points," says Ely.

Whatever you decide to do for Valentine's Day, make sure that you are making smart financial choices and not putting yourself in debt. "While credit cards can give you the chance to save on things you already planned on buying, it is important to not spend more than you have," says Sherry. "Your loved one will appreciate the spirit of whatever gift you give that is from the heart."


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