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How credit cards can help you kick off your New Year’s resolutions

Jan. 13, 2021
7 min read
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The beginning of a new year typically inspires people to look for ways to improve their lives. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? You’ll want to make sure to have the right cards in your wallet because they can be a key tool in helping with your resolutions. Here are some common resolutions and how you can use credit cards to help achieve them.

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Exercise more

Is this the year you’re going to get in shape? Lose that “quarantine 15”? Maybe it’s finally time to turn that dream of a home gym into reality. If you’re starting from scratch to set up your home gym, you’ll want to keep an eye out for Amex Offers and Chase Offers for discounts or extra points on retailers that sell workout equipment and/or workout clothes.

(Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

If you’re eyeing Amazon for fitness purchases, keep watch for discounts from the major loyalty programs. Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou frequently offer targeted promotions for savings on your Amazon purchases when you redeem just one point.

Chase Sapphire cards also have recently added a Peloton credit that’s good through Dec. 31, 2021. Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can earn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access memberships, while Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers can earn up to $60 in statement credits.

Amex also has a partnership with Equinox to provide a monthly statement credit for its Variis fitness app for eligible cardholders.

While many are looking for ways to maximize their points-earning to help with exercising at home, if you’re joining a gym or renewing a membership, you may want to use the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which offers 2x points on fitness clubs and gym memberships.

Save more

The idea that credit cards can help you save might sound contradictory. I mean, don’t credit cards make you spend? Well, not necessarily. If you already have a big bank of points and you’re not making any travel plans just yet, you can cash out points to put in your savings or investments accounts. Some of the best ways to currently cash out points are via Chase’s Pay Yourself Back or Amex’s Membership Rewards with Schwab.

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Or you can sign up for new cards with cash bonuses, but be sure to save those bonuses instead of spend them. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card currently has a sign-up bonus of $300 when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening. Another possibility is the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card with its $200 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.

The information for the Capital One Savor card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Read more

(Photo by Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Maybe you want to set aside time this year to read more. You’ll definitely need some books and Amazon’s a popular place for book-buying, whether you prefer an ebook or a hard copy. Be sure to use cards with bonuses for Amazon shopping. You can also visit your local grocery or drugstore and pick up some Amazon gift cards using your credit cards with category bonuses to maximize your points-earning.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is an obvious choice as it offers 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases. However, if you don’t already have that card or want to apply at the moment, consider using a 2x or 1.5x card like the Citi® Double Cash Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited.

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Cook more (and eat healthier)

(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images)

This is another resolution where you’ll benefit from having cards with a strong grocery bonus category. As many of us are spending more time at home, it offers a great opportunity to get more active in the kitchen when it comes to mealtime. You may be planning to cook with fresher ingredients as opposed to frozen, eat more fruits and vegetables and eat less takeout or fast food. Or maybe you want to bake bread and make desserts. No matter what the plan is, if you’ve found some new recipes to try, you’ll need to stock up on supplies at your local grocer.

Some of my favorite cards with high bonus grocery categories include the American Express® Gold Card (which offers 4x at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x), Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (6x at U.S. supermarkets) and the Citi Premier® Card (3x ThankYou points at supermarkets). In the first quarter of 2021, wholesale clubs, like Costco and Sam’s Club, are one of the 5x rotating categories on the Chase Freedom Flex (earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 per quarter when you activate).

Give more

(Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images)

Many charities accept donations via credit card (though the charity takes a hit on the processing fee, so you may want to add extra to cover the fee). Some charities allow you to set up either one-time donations or recurring monthly donations with your credit card. Your best bets here for credit cards to use would be new ones to help meet a minimum spending requirement, or a 2x or 1.5x bonus card.

If you’re flush with points and miles, you can donate them directly to charity via many loyalty programs. American Express, for example, has a partnership with JustGiving and allows you to apply your Membership Rewards when you donate to a cause you want to support.

And if you happen to be donating your time by volunteering in person and driving to locations, you’ll want to have a card with a good gas category bonus. Both the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (6x at U.S. gas stations) and the Citi Premier Card (3x ThankYou points at gas stations) excel here. So if you’re grocery shopping more often as a result of your resolution to cook more, the same cards are useful if you’re driving to donate your time to charitable endeavors.

Travel more

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, the world will be open for travel again. If you’ve been holding off on signing up for new cards, now is the time, in order to have points at the ready to book future travel.

Familiarize yourself with the best current sign-up bonuses, figure out how many miles and points you need to redeem awards for the destinations on your list, and strategize how you will spend to earn those points.

Bottom line

If you’re like the millions of people who use the start of the year to identify ways to improve themselves, some of these ideas might be on your list.

Knowing you have and are using the right credit cards can provide some additional motivation to stay on track with your resolutions and help you not be among those whose resolutions are tossed aside shortly after the year begins.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.