Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is a few weeks away. We are just months away from a new year and a new slate as we enter the last stretch for elite status in many loyalty programs.
There are steps you can take now to begin formulating your holiday shopping strategy to help you meet spending, elite status and miles/points goals.
In November, you should think about three things.
If you shop, you can earn yourself free travel in 2023, even if your budget takes a hit during the holiday season. It takes more than grabbing the closest credit card to earn the most points and miles.
Some of the gifts you're considering buying might be at retailers where you only earn a single point or mile per dollar, not falling into one of the more lucrative bonus spending categories that can earn you up to three, four or five points. You should use a credit card that has the best earning potential on everyday spending for many of your gifts.
If you make big purchases and they don't fit a bonus category with one of your cards, look for ways to stack your earnings.
Let's say you're looking to purchase a shirt from a popular clothing brand. You might only earn 1 point per dollar if you use your cards at that store. You can earn 2 or more miles per dollar by shopping through an airline shopping portal.
If you get bonus points for shopping with Amazon, you can buy yourself a gift card at the grocery store to spend on your holiday purchases.
Your credit card spending can count towards your elite status in some loyalty programs. It's possible to secure elite status for next year if you spend a lot on holiday gifts.
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There is a good example of the American Airlines AAdvantage program. When American shifted to the Loyalty Points system early this year, spending on co- branded credit cards counted towards AAdvantage elite status.
I have to decide by the end of February if I will be able to get AAdvantage Platinum status. If I want to reach that level, I need to put a lot of my holiday gift purchases on my Platinum Select Mastercard, which will earn me 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent.
Members of other airline loyalty programs can attain elite status through their non-airline spending, and some hotel co- branded cards can help them get there.
If you have taken inventory of your progress toward elite status and found you are on the verge of qualification for a particular tier at the end of the year, you can put your holiday spending on your card that will help get you there.
It's a good time to open a new credit card since we tend to spend a lot during the holiday season. There is a good chance that you will be able to get the welcome offer.
You will want to choose a card that will earn you the best perks and return for your spending habits and travel needs, whether it is a card that earns you airport lounge access and hotel elite status, or one that gets you bonus points.
If you haven't applied for a card out of fear that your spending won't be enough to get you a welcome offer, the holiday season is a good time to do that.
The holiday shopping season is just a few weeks away. It is a good idea to begin planning even if you still have wish lists. Spending can go a long way towards enhancing future travel or earning you those trips at no out-of-pocket costs.
When the cashier rings up your purchases next month, you'll be able to form a strategy for your spending during November.