Zeroing in on smart holiday spending
If you’re like us, you’re speeding toward the holidays, still wondering where September went. And maybe, like us, you’ve picked up some gifts and goodies here and there, but still have the majority of shopping — and spending — in front of you. From dinners to decorations to digital gizmos for the fam, the holiday season can really put a dent in your wallet, and using a credit card to cover holiday costs might be a pretty handy option. But before you reach for your wallet, read on for our ideas on leveraging an attractive new credit card offer to smartly navigate this expensive season.
The perks of introductory rates
By choosing a credit card that offers (among other things) an introductory no-interest period, you can borrow the money to fund your purchases without it costing you a penny in interest. This is an especially good solution if you’re able to repay the charges before the introductory period ends, but either way, a 0% intro APR is a wonderful opportunity to save some money. With careful management, 0% offers can give you some extra purchasing power when you need it most. So how does it work?
With this type of promotion, you open a new credit card and all purchases made within an introductory period (typically six to 12 months) are not subject to interest. If you still have a balance on the card after the introductory period, you’ll pay interest moving forward. You’ll want to be sure you have a firm understanding of how long the introductory period is, whether you will owe interest on the whole purchase or just the remaining balance when the intro period is over, and what the regular interest rate will be.
Going this route will entail an honest look at your repayment history. If you can set a realistic shopping budget, and a repayment budget that has all your merriment swept up before the card issuer begins charging interest, you’ll be golden. If you suspect you’ll carry a balance after the intro period ends, you’ll need to adjust your budget for the payments with interest. (This means that choosing a card with a competitive interest rate after the intro period is super important.)
Other benefits to consider
While an introductory rate is huge when it comes to holiday shopping and budgeting, it’s essential to make the most of your card’s features during the holiday season, too. For example, a card that earns rewards is a must: You’ll earn rewards on your interest-free shopping and be able to redeem accumulated points to cover yet another gift, holiday travel, or cash to offset your seasonal spending. (You’ll want to look for a rewards program robust enough to accommodate you throughout the year, because a gift card or merchandise may fit the bill one month, but the next month, cash back or fuel discounts may suit your needs a little better.) Discounts and perks can help with your shopping, as well; you’ll need to visit your card’s website and see what deals might align with your shopping or celebrating plans.
An annual fee can get in the way of your merriment as well, so you’ll want to be sure your prospective card doesn’t charge you for the privilege of being their customer (unless we’re talking secured cards, which are a whole different thing). You’ll also want to make sure you’re still loving your card when the holidays are over, so competitive interest rates are a biggie. You wouldn’t want a high regular interest rate to come between you and your new card after you got off to such a nice start. Many folks don’t think of customer service as a credit card selling point, but it really is. Great customer service is imperative — preferably local service, with real people on the other end of the phone should you have questions, a challenging situation, or need help making a payment.
Shop smart this holiday season
We hope we’ve given you some ideas for using a 0% credit card as a budgeting (and — dare we say it? — stress management) tool this holiday season. To recap, you’ll want to learn about your choices and make sure you understand your offer. Set a budget for your holiday credit card and stick to it, making the most of your credit card deals and rewards. Make sure to make your payments on time, and, to avoid accruing debt, pay your balance in full each month. With an interest-free card, sweet rewards, and some responsible spending, you’ll stay jolly all season!
While we’re talking 0% offers, we thought we’d mention ours. With 0% introductory APR° on all purchases for 12 months, 0% introductory APR° on balance transfers for 12 months when the balance transfer is made within 60 days of account opening, no balance transfer fees, no annual fees, automatic enrollment in a generous rewards program, competitive interest rates, and UBT’s trademark personalized service, it’s a card to enjoy both now and after the tinsel has been packed away. Learn more here.
°Offer subject to credit approval. Valid on approved Rewards and Signature Rewards credit card applications received between 11/01/21 to 02/28/22. *Introductory 0.00% APR for 12 months from date of account opening on purchases. Introductory 0.00% APR for 12 months from date of account opening on balance transfers made within 60 days of card open date. Balance transfer fees waived on transfers made within 60 days of card open date. After introductory period ends, the standard variable APR for purchases will be applied to unpaid introductory balances, new purchases, and new balance transfers. As of 01/20/22, the standard variable APR for purchases is 14.00% – 20.00%, based on your creditworthiness. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Fees include foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. After introductory period ends, balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, applies.
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