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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express
Black Friday is one of my favorite times of the year. While I used to be one to get to the stores in the wee hours of the morning before the turkey was even fully digested, I have transitioned to online shopping. And, if the trend from the past few years continues, most Black Friday deals will be available all week long. While Black Friday deals can save you a good amount of money, knowing how to maximize your savings and point earnings along the way is equally important. Here are five tips to maximize your purchases.
1. Use an Online Shopping Portal
If you are making any purchases online, my No. 1 tip is to make sure you go through an online shopping portal first. These portals will earn you extra points, miles or cash back for purchases you were going to make anyway. For example, let’s say you are purchasing a $50 item from Macy’s. In recent history we’ve seen some portals paying out up to 10x points per dollar spent or even 20% cash back. A single $50 purchase can put an extra $10 back into your pocket or, if you prefer, 500 bonus miles/points. Some of the more popular shopping portals allow you to earn airline miles, credit card points or cash back.
Earn Airline Miles
Be sure to register at these shopping portals, log in and then link to the store where you want to shop. If you’re not logged in to the shopping portal and you don’t click through the portal’s store link, you won’t earn any rewards.
- Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping
- American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping
- Delta Airlines SkyMiles Shopping
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United MileagePlus Shopping
Earn Credit Card Points
Just like the above-mentioned airline programs, these banks also offer shopping portals that can earn you extra points per purchase.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (the bonus points you see might differ depending on the Chase account you are signed into)
- Barclaycard RewardsBoost
- Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards
Earn Cash Back
If the store you want to shop at doesn’t appear in any of the airline or bank shopping portals, see if you can earn cash back on the purchase with these outfits:
And, TPG answers the age old question, “Can I get both points/miles and cash back on a purchase?”
2. Find the Biggest Payout
I also suggest using a shopping portal aggregator, such as cashbackmonitor.com or evrewards.com to quickly compare the current bonuses since payouts can change day to day. During the Black Friday time period, there is a high chance that we will see some of these portals offering increased payouts.
3. Utilize Amex Offers
If you have any American Express credit cards, you can take advantage of Amex Offers. This includes both co-branded cards, such as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card and cards that earn Membership Reward points, such as the American Express® Gold Card.
You will need to log in to your online Amex account to see which offers you are eligible for. Make sure to add the offer to your card if you see any you like because they can disappear. Some popular Amex Offers that can save you money on your upcoming Black Friday shopping purchases include:
- Bloomingdales: Spend $100+, receive a $20 statement credit
- Macy’s: Spend $100+, receive 1,500 Membership Rewards points
- Best Buy: Spend $300+, receive 3,000 Membership Rewards points
- J.Crew: Spend $75+, receive a $15 statement credit
- eBags: Spend $100+, receive a $20 statement credit
- Staples: Earn 2x Membership Rewards points
- Home Depot, Lowes: Spend $75+, receive a $10 statement credit
There are slightly different terms for every Amex Offer, so check the details of each promotion. Some offers require the minimum spend to be on a single purchase while others are for cumulative spend. Some offers are for purchases made online only or in-store only so make sure to know which purchases will trigger the statement credit. The best part of Amex Offers is that you can combine them with any other coupon you might find or bonus from an online shopping portal — this can allow you to double or even triple dip your savings.
4. Know Which Credit Card Gets You the Most Points
Using the best credit card is important when you are looking to spend a good amount of money. Why earn 1% cash back, when another card will give you a whopping 5% cash back (or more)?
Best Cards for Amazon
- Discover it® Cash Back: enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in cumulative spend on purchases for the quarter, including wholesale clubs, after activating the offer).
- Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card: 3% cash back
Best Card for Target
- Target REDcard™: Receive an immediate 5% discount
Best Cards for Wholesale Clubs (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club)
- Discover it® Cash Back: enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in cumulative spend on purchases for the quarter, including Amazon, after activating the offer)
- Chase Freedom: 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spend for the quarter, including department stores and Chase Pay; must activate the offer by Dec. 14)
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card: 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (which Costco offers).
Best Cards for Department Stores
- Chase Freedom: 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spend for the quarter at select US department stores, wholesale clubs and Chase Pay; must activate the offer by Dec. 14)
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: 3% cash back at select US department stores (including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and more)
Best Cards at Office Supply Stores
Even if you aren’t gifting someone a new office chair, remember that many office supply stores sell third-party gift cards like Amazon, Delta or Disney that you might want to gift to someone.
- Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card: 5% cash back (up to $25,000 in combined spending with all 5% cash back categories each card membership year)
- Ink Business Plus Credit Card: 5x points (up to $50,000 in combined spending with all 5x point categories each card membership year) *this card is no longer available to new applicants
- SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express: 5% cash back at US office supply stores (up to $50,000 in combined spending with all 5% cash back categories each card membership year)
5. Use a Card With Price Protection
Price protection is a popular benefit among many credit cards and, at times, can be more worthwhile than the points and miles you earn with the card. The number of cards that offer this benefit is definitely dwindling — American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Discover and Wells Fargo unfortunately do not offer this benefit. However, there are still a decent number of cards that will provide you with this protection on your next purchase. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday pricing are typically very competitive, they are not always the best prices you’ll find as prices can dip at various points in the holiday season.
As long as you made the purchase with a card that comes with the price protection benefit, you might be able to get the difference back if the price drops within a set number of days. Keep in mind that all of the price protection benefits listed below are only for US-issued cards for purchases made within the US.
Citi Price Rewind
All personal Citi credit cards come with Citi’s Price Rewind benefit. This means if you have the Citi Double Cash Card or the Citi Premier Card, for example, Citi will monitor the purchases you enter and look for a better price for 60 days. If a lower price is found, Citi will automatically refund you the difference.
With this benefit, you can get up to $200 back per item, and up to $1,000 per year. The maximums are per Citi account, so if you’ve reached your max on one card, move on to another Citi card.
Barclays’ price protection benefit unfortunately does not extend to all of its credit cards. Only the World Elite Mastercards, such as the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, are covered if a purchase goes down in price.
With Barclays’ price protection benefit, you have 120 days from the original purchase date to file a claim. If a less expensive price is found, Barclays will refund the difference up to $250 per item, up to $1,000 per year. Barclays actually enhanced its price protection benefit back in 2017, and the 120 day time frame is the most generous out of all of the card listed.
Unfortunately, Chase recently removed the price protection benefit from most of its cards this past August. Although a few cards, at least for now, have been salvaged:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- IHG Rewards Club Select Card (*no longer available)
- IHG Rewards Club Classic Card (*no longer available)
- IHG Rewards Club Business Credit Card (*no longer available)
- Hyatt Credit Card (*no longer available)
- United MileagePlus Club Card
With this benefit, with only these Chase cards, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item up to $2,500 per year. You have up to 90 days from when the purchase was made to file a claim.
Only the U.S. Bank Cash 365 American Express Card is eligible for the price protection benefit — which it actually refers to as “Best Value Guarantee.” This card has the weakest benefits compared to all the other banks as a lower price must be found within 30 days of the date of purchase. With that being said, its caps are on par with the other eligible credit cards as you are able to receive up to $250 back per item, up to $1,000 per year.
With Black Friday Week upon us, now is the time to put a shopping plan into action. Check the online shopping portals, add the Amex Offers to your credit cards, use the cards that offer the most points/cash back for your purchases and note the cards that come with price and purchase protections. By following these tips, you will save a good amount of money on your Black Friday purchases. Happy shopping!
Featured image via Shutterstock.
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