Spending a lot could mean some serious saving, if you’re doing it right

Instead of buying a gift for yourself this holiday season like you were already planning on doing, maybe try to just earn some rewards while you’re shopping for others instead.

It turns out that 38 percent of Americans will charge their holiday purchases to a credit card, and almost half of those said it’s to earn rewards, according to a survey from Discover.

Of these credit card users looking to get something for themselves, two-thirds say they are using credit cards to earn cash back during their holiday shopping, while 16 percent are looking for travel rewards.

credit card cashback

Perks and convenience seem to be part of the shopping plan, as almost half of survey respondents say they plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year. Last month we noted that in-store shopping is already on its way down and it’ll only continue that path.

While holiday shopping has been going on for months, brick-and-mortar stores are looking to Thanksgiving and Black Friday to give them a surge in sales. Unfortunately, 22 percent of Americans don’t even think they’ll make it to a physical store this year, as 73 percent of us are planning on getting gifts online.

Many Americans can’t even wait until Black Friday to shop. Half of Americans got in the holiday shopping mood more than two weeks ago. If you’re still planning your holiday shopping schedule, here’s how to shop smart and earn some cash while you’re at it.

The best credit cards for holiday shopping

The first rule is probably a worst more than a best. Avoid store credit cards. They’ve got higher interest rates than regular credit cards and the rewards aren’t better. Unless you’re planning on shopping at the store frequently (read: almost exclusively), you won’t actually save as much money as the offers will make you think you are.

For the best rewards, look to some of the top cards, including the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. It offers 6 percent cash back at grocery stores, 3 percent cash back at gas stations, and 1 percent everywhere else. For most Americans, it offers the most cash back.

Many cash back cards don’t have annual fees like some American Express cards do, which is probably more appealing. The Chase Freedom card offers 1 percent cash back on all purchases and 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 of eligible spending each quarter from specific merchants. That alone could add up to some serious cash. The Discover survey estimates consumers will spend an average of $1,159 this holiday season, so there’s plenty of opportunity for huge rewards with this card.

If you’d rather get travel rewards instead of cash back, the Barclaycard Arrival may be your best bet, especially if you’re planning to travel this holiday season. You can redeem your miles as statement credits that can be used toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and even cruises. You earn two miles per $1 spent.

Make sure you know what you’re putting into your credit cards for these rewards to make sure you’ve got the best card for your spending habits.

Budgeting & Saving, Credit & Debt

credit card reviews, credit cards, holidays, save money, shop online, Thanksgiving, winter holidays

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Article last modified on March 9, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .