While you’re dashing to the malls or waiting to pounce on Cyber Monday deals to get gifts for friends and family, give yourself some credit. Here are four ways to do some good for yourself – and your wallet and credit score – while you’re trying to do so much for others.
Check and track your credit scores.
With card issuers increasingly offering free credit scores and scorecards, this costs you nothing but a quick check every few weeks to make sure your credit score is moving in the right direction.
Always pay your bills on time – at least the minimum, but preferably in full – and you should see your scores climb.
Save by using shopping portals.
If you already have an idea what you’re getting folks, you can rack up rewards points, maybe get free shipping and avoid the crowds at stores by using your card issuer or airline card’s shopping portal.
While card issuer shopping portals turbocharge miles, points and cash back through the year, the savings are especially great at the holidays. The same goes for airline shopping portals, where you can rack up miles without having an airline credit card (just enroll in the frequent flier program).
Do some good.
The holidays don’t have to be about splurging and spending. Studies have shown that giving – instead of gifting – can improve our spirits.
Giving Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday, is one way to do some good. My post on 4 ways you can make the most of Giving Tuesday shows how matching programs can double donations to your favorite causes. If you don’t have money to spare, you can donate your time as a volunteer.
If you’re a Capital One cardholder, No Hassle Giving lets you donate to more than 1.2 million charities in the U.S. via Network for Good, and Capital One covers the transaction fees, so 100 percent of your donation reaches the charity.
For a twist on giving gift cards, this is the second holiday season that Stockpile has made it possible to buy stock gift cards at your favorite retailer. This year, Stockpile gift cards are available in many more stores, including Target.
Use sign-up bonuses to make the most of holiday spending.
A cash sign-up bonus with a new rewards credit card might be especially appealing as you head into the final weeks of the year, especially since a National Retail Federation study projects the average American will spend an average total of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season.
With that in mind, the Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard’s $100 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months might be a big help with your shopping. Or maybe the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express’s $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases would be a better match for your spending.
If a card might help with you rake in the miles, points or cash back this time of year but you don’t know which card is right for you, our CardMatch tool can help. CardMatch helped me to choose the Chase Freedom card, with its $150 bonus with $500 spending in the first three months, to add to my wallet months ago.
Give yourself credit. The way I figure it, it just pays to get something back for your spending, to save as much as you can on gifts this time of year, to know and track your credit score, and to give whatever you’re able to a favorite cause at the holidays and beyond.