Thanksgiving is over. The pies and stuffing are all gone. You’re halfway to holiday weight gain. The fridge is stuffed with turkey leftovers that will make lunch sandwiches for the rest of December. Now you’re relaxing, while your mind rests on the one thing you’d rather avoid thinking about: Holiday gift shopping on Black Friday.
It’s an enormous drag for everyone. You drive to your local mall, spend 30 minutes searching for a parking space, and then 30 more waiting in line at every store you go through, if you’re lucky.
Depending on how many special someones you’re shopping for, holiday shopping can take up multiple full days of your time. Luckily for you, every department store, retailer, and vender under the sun offers online shopping these days. Type in a URL, find your way to their site, shop, checkout, packages direct to your door. No scouring for parking; no waiting in lines, and no arguing with obnoxious strangers over the last V-neck sweater vests.
What you may not know is that you can save plenty of cash on your holiday purchases with your credit card rewards program, especially when combined with coupons you can find online. Most rewards programs offer an online shopping center where you can log in and shop online while earning bonus points or cash back. Saving money this way is easy.
First, give a little bit of thought to what you’ll get each person on your list. Sure, you can browse online for ideas, but that can take hours. Having a list of ideas can focus your search, and have you well prepared for price comparisons, if you’re planning on being that thorough.
Now, take a look at a site like Deals.com. Scan the site and see if any coupons are available at stores where you expect to find your chosen gifts. These coupons are codes you can apply at checkout. (If you’re anything like most online shoppers, you’ve gotten to checkout, seen the box for a promotion code, and said, “I wish I had one of those…”)
Many offers can’t be combined with holiday sales and other offers. However, this usually isn’t the case with coupons and rewards programs. You’ll typically receive cash back, miles, or rewards points on every purchase. This means that even if you save 20% on a gift purchase, you still receive your standard rewards rate and bonuses for the vendor.
Your next step is to check out your rewards program to see which vendors have the highest bonus rewards. Your rewards program should make it easy to scan vendors by their bonus rewards rates. It’s always best to comparison shop for the best deal, but with many retailers offering similar prices, you’ll probably come out just a bit farther ahead by choosing the vendor with the best bonus offer.
See if any of the companies you found on Deals.com are included in your rewards program shopping center. Once you find overlap, just shop, apply your promotion codes, and enjoy your rewards. It’s a savings double dip. If you’re stuck on what to get someone, consider a magazine subscription. These are often inexpensive online, and some rewards programs offer massive rewards on subscription ordering sites.
Last but not least, don’t think you need to save this method for the holidays. It’s a great way to save money all year round. Just comparison shop, find the right promotions, and take advantage of your rewards program. Every penny saved adds up!
Published or updated April 4, 2013.