Holidays on a Budget

Seems like yesterday we were posting pieces on how to save money during the expensive holiday season. In fact, we were touting a poor economy that was sure to improve by the time the 2012 holiday season came around. For millions, that hasn’t happened and many are still looking for ways to cover the holidays without breaking the bank. Here are a few of our tried and true tips, as well as a few credit card offers that just might the perfect solution for all of your holiday expenses.

Shop the Sales

That sounds obvious, but many don’t even concern themselves with sale prices until Black Friday. You might be missing out on quite a few incredible sale prices as a result. There are a ton of new websites that offer coupon codes for any retailer you can imagine. Most of those codes require a minimum purchase or some other easy to qualify rule and the savings could be more than impressive. Free shipping, free gifts or even “Spend X amount of dollars and see X amount knocked off of your total at checkout” promotions. They’re out there and they’re not hard to find.

Many of these sites have forums, as well, where shopper come together and spread the word about huge savings at various retailers that might not have been advertised. It’s not at all uncommon to find great sale prices or online prices for places like Target, Wal Mart and Macy’s. It’s worth spending an hour or two checking out those forums, especially if you walk away with huge savings.

Online Shopping Malls

Don’t forget about your credit card’s online shopping malls, either. You can earn 5% to 20% cash back when you shop Discover’s online shops. Not only that, but you’ll earn 5% cash back in certain categories throughout the year. Visit Discover’s 5% Cash Back Calendar for more information on which categories are applicable at any time in the year.

And speaking of Discover, check out the Discover More card. Currently, there’s a $0 balance transfer fee, a 0% intro APR for both purchases and transfers, and of course, the 5% cash back categories – all of which make this a sound financial choice for many consumers. Other perks include 24/7 access to a U.S. based manager within one minute, no annual fees, no rewards redemption worries and you can easily add another card to your account with no additional fees.

You’ll earn cash back on every purchase you make, for those purchases not included in the cash back categories, that’s 1% for every dollar you spend.

Fast tip: Don’t jeopardize the introduction APR fees by being late with a payment. Doing so means you lose those perks instantly.

If you do opt to do your shopping the way our parents and grandparents did, don’t forget to check on in-store coupons. Even if you’re not shopping online, you can still find a great variety of those coupons that require you to redeem them in store. This can save money and time. Search for “in store coupons” and you should get a result with thousands of possibilities. Before you head out, double check the store hours. Many stores are revving up for extended hours if they’re not already open around the clock. A good deal is anything but if you get there before the store opens and going from store to store isn’t the kind of chase you want – especially during the holidays.

Ah…but here’s a Chase that might be right up your alley –

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom credit card is a great choice for those with strong credit ratings. The rewards program is incredibly easy and earning double and triple points is so simple, you may not even be aware you’re earning those kinds of rewards when you use the card. No worries about annual fees, either. This Chase offer doesn’t have one – ever. You can also take advantage of balance transfers, too. Cash advances are a breeze as are obtaining additional cards for family members.

Members earn a 5% rebates on everyday purchases like fuel, prescriptions, groceries and restaurants. All other purchases earn 1% cash back and with your very first purchase, you’ll earn $100 cash back. Spend another $500 in the first ninety days and you’ll see a $50 cash back bonus. Enjoy online account services, complimentary financial statement storage and no fears about fraudulent use. Shop at traditional brick and mortars or shop the Unlimited Rewards shops on the Chase website for even more savings.

Thinking of traveling for the holidays? Travel insurance comes at no extra cost, so travel with no worries.

Another way many consumers save money during the holiday is by making a list for the supermarket. A list ensures there are no surprises when you get home and realize you forgot vanilla extract for your Christmas cake – and it also means no ‘quick runs’ to the convenience store, which is surely going to cost even more. Check your favorite supermarket’s website before you head out for online-only coupons and deals. And when you get ready to check out, choose wisely how you’ll pay. In fact, you might want to consider this American Express card as your preferred payment choice:

Blue Cash

The American Express Blue Cash Everyday card lets you earn 3% cash back at supermarkets and 2% cash back on all of your gasoline charges. So not only are you earning cash back just for grocery shopping, you’re also earning cash back for the gas you use to get that supermarket. Earn $100 in reward dollars after you charge $1,000 during the first ninety days of membership. You’ll also earn 1% reward dollars for all of your other purchases.

Quick tip: Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Cash back is earned only on eligible purchases.

With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you begin earning cash back almost immediately and there are no rotating categories with this offer. Like the idea of a bonus just for referring friends and family? It’s yours. Just recommend the Blue Cash Everyday Card to your friends and earn 25 Reward Dollars for every friend who is approved for the card. There is no limit to how many friends you can refer, either.

Regardless of how you handle your holidays, there’s a great credit card offer and impressive sale prices to be had – if you take the time to do your research.

What are your tips for getting through the holidays?

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