Smart holiday spending with credit cards

NORFOLK Va. - Big November sales can make spending more appealing than your budget limits, especially when you can use credit.

Whether buying gifts or personal wants and needs, there are important “do’s and don’ts” that will help shoppers guard their credit scores, while also saving money on the things they buy in November.

“It’s peak season for credit card signups leading up to Thanksgiving for the huge Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” said Ashley Dull, editor in chief at Cardrates.com “While some offers and sign up bonuses may look too good to pass on, there are some things to avoid to help protect credit scores and keep from overspending.”

Do’s

  • Use credit cards that offer rewards — Cash back, points, and miles can add up quickly with big holiday purchases; choose the best card for each purchase to maximize rewards.
  • Take advantage of card benefits — Many cards offer purchase protection and extended warranties that apply to Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals.
  • Use credit account activity alerts — Set up notifications to alert you to purchases made with your account to help stay on budget and avoid holiday card fraud.

Don’ts

  • Don’t sign up for multiple retailer cards — Major retailers use enticing holiday promotions to get you to sign up for their credit cards with high interest rates.
  • Don’t max out your cards — Your utilization ratio (what you owe over available credit) is a big part of your credit score, so avoid carrying high balances relative to credit limits.
  • Don’t use more than a couple of credit cards — spreading out purchases among several credit cards can make juggling monthly minimums and paying off balances harder to manage.