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Is your credit card use naughty or nice?11/5/2018

It’s tempting to turn to plastic to help finance the holiday season. The average American accumulated $1,052 in holiday credit card debt last year. That is more than many people have in their savings.

Nothing brings on the post-holiday blues like receiving your credit card statement with a number that makes your stomach clench. Even the most financially responsible people can get carried away during the season of giving and overspend on their credit cards. Here’s how you can keep yourself on the “nice list” this year when it comes to your credit card use:

Nice: Keep your holiday purchases concentrated to one credit card

Instead of spreading your purchases out among a multitude of cards; rely on one or two cards at most. Not only will it be easier to keep track of how much you’ve spent, but if your accounts are compromised, the damage will be limited to one card, rather than multiple cards.

Naughty: Being a “Super Santa”

It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving, especially when you have a long list of loved ones to shop for. However, fight the urge to become a “Super Santa” by limiting the number of gifts you buy. After all, maxing out your credit cards isn’t the ideal way to create holiday magic. Tapping the limits on your cards can be detrimental to your credit and overall financial health. Figure out what you can afford, set a budget and stick to it.

Nice: know (and use) your perks

Your credit card comes with a lot more perks than you likely know about. Take the time to review what your credit card offers and use that card when it makes sense for your lifestyle and the purchase. For example, with a Sandia Area Mastercard, you’ll enjoy Price Protection and Extended Warranty when you make purchases with your card. Price Protection reimburses you the price difference on eligible items should you find a lower price within 60 days from the date of purchase. And with Extended Warranty, we’ll double the original manufacturer or store-brand warranty on eligible purchases for up to 12 months.

Naughty: Financing gift-giving with credit

If you don’t have the money to finance your gift-giving, it’s tempting to pull out a credit card. People tend to overspend when using plastic.

Nice: Paying for holiday travel

If you’re traveling for the holidays, it’s prudent to pay for it using credit. Using a credit card to make reservations at hotels and other book-ahead services can prevent a hold on your account as a deposit. Plus, if your use your Sandia Area Mastercard, you can get some travel-related perks.

Naughty: Guilt spending

The holidays are full of messages that connect spending to caring. Advertisers encourage us to make emotional decisions, rather than spending what we can afford. Credit cards make this easier by letting you postpone paying for the gift. Keeping gifts within your budget can move you back to the nice side of the list.

Nice: Spending rewards on holiday purchases

If you use a rewards card like a Sandia Area Mastercard throughout the year, now is the time to consider cashing in some of those points. Use your points toward merchandise or travel.

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