Deck the halls: Use these cards to maximize your seasonal spending
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November and December are my favorite months of the year. I love the cooler temperatures; I love the holiday season. When I was growing up, Nov. 1 was a mini-holiday at my house because it was the day we put up fall decorations. Festivities involved multiple trips to the attic to bring down the boxes of evergreen decorations and a trip to Target for a few new items. After Thanksgiving, we’d start the process again to get ready for Christmas.
Now that I’m older, I realize that decorating my own apartment for the holidays can be expensive. Throw pillows, blankets, Christmas lights and seasonal trinkets can cost a pretty penny. And don’t get me started on the cost of buying and decorating a Christmas tree. Luckily, there are credit cards out there to help me earn rewards while I feed my holiday decor obsession.
Annual fee: $0
Sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
With the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, you’ll earn 3% back on the category of your choice; 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on everything else. There is a $2,500 quarterly cap on combined 3% and 2% spending each quarter; then 1%. One of the spending categories is home improvement and furnishings, a category that includes florists, antique stores and hardware shops, etc. You can earn 3% back when you buy those seasonal throw pillows and blankets, add festive wreaths and flower arrangements from your local florist, grab new lawn ornaments from Lowe’s or all of the above. You can also boost your earnings with the Preferred Rewards program. Eligible cardholders could earn as much as 5.25% back on your holiday decor purchases.
Once the season is over and your decorations go back into storage, you can get continued value from your card by changing your category every month to fit your spending habits throughout the rest of the year.
Discover it Cash Back
Annual fee: $0
Sign-up bonus: Discover will match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
Enroll to with the card to earn 5% back on quarterly rotating categories (up to $1,500 spent on purchases each quarter). Although the categories change each year, the categories for Q4 2019 are Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target — aka: the budget decorator’s dream. Walmart.com is perfect for ordering new lawn ornaments and prelit Christmas trees. Target has everything you need to turn your home into a holiday wonderland, from wreaths to patio decor to festive indoor touches. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at Walmart or Target, it can likely be shipped via Amazon Prime.
Throughout the year, Discover switches categories. Generally, the categories fit with common seasonal spending patterns. For example, categories in January are grocery stores, and drugstores like Walgreens and CVS. People are most likely to spend money at these stores during cold and flu season.
The information for the Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Annual fee: $0
Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months
Similar to the Discover it Cash Back, the Chase Freedom earns 5% on rotating categories each quarter (with a $1,500 cap on 5% spend each quarter). The Q4 2019 categories are department stores, PayPal and Chase Pay. The department store category includes Belk, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney, Macy’s — all of which have seasonal decorations departments, which are great places to look for a few additions to your indoor holiday collection.
As with the Discover it Cash Back, you’ll be able to use this card for more than seasonal decorations. Chase hasn’t announced Q1 2020 categories yet, but the 2019 Q1 categories were gas stations, tolls and drugstores. You can also pair your Chase Freedom with Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to convert your cash back earnings into points. Those points can then be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transfered to a Chase travel partner.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
With the Capital One Venture Card, you’ll get unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, including any seasonal decor your heart desires. The other cards on this list are restricted to certain categories, but you’ll earn 2x with the Venture no matter what you buy or where you shop. You don’t get the best return with the Venture, compared to cards that offer 5% or 3% on specific categories, but you don’t have to worry about activating quarterly or monthly categories. If you buy your seasonal decorations from a number of shops that may not fall under a specific category, the Venture is a good choice.
Don’t forget to use shopping portals
When shopping online, you can stack rewards earnings by using shopping portals. Many popular airlines have shopping portals, and there are multiple third-party portals that offer cash back. Let’s say you want to buy a four-piece greenery set for your front porch from Bloomingdale’s. If you have the Chase Freedom, you’ll get 5% back because Bloomingdale’s is one of the eligible department stores (on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter). But you can also currently earn 4x miles on top of that 5% by going through Delta’s SkyMiles Shopping portal.
Aside from the extra two seconds it takes to click through the link, using a shopping portal doesn’t cost anything. It’s another easy way to maximize your purchases, on top of using the right card.
Whether you go all out with seasonal decor (like my family) or only plan to add a few holiday touches around the house, it’s important to maximize your purchases with the right card(s). Luckily, there are plenty of credit cards that help you rack up rewards on decor purchases at stores like Target, Lowe’s and Macy’s. Choose a card that provides value year-round. If you take advantage of the right shopping portal and credit card matchup, you could even get a jumpstart on your 2020 travel fund with the rewards from your holiday decorating habit.
Featured photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.