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The Best Credit Card Perks for Holiday Shoppers

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While it's always important to read through all the fine print to make sure you understand the nuances of any deal, here are a few ways to make the best use of credit cards this holiday season.

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Conventional wisdom says to leave your credit cards at home when you do your brick-and-mortar holiday shopping. But using plastic can actually be more than just convenient. If you're savvy, you can get while you give.

According to Capital One's recent quarterly rewards survey, 25% of reward cardholders say they plan to use their cash rewards from holiday shopping to offset holiday expenses, while 25% said they plan to use the rewards earned from holiday shopping toward spring or summer travel next year, and 44% plan to redeem credit card rewards for gift cards.

While it's always important to read through all the fine print to make sure you understand the nuances of any deal, here are a few ways to make the best use of credit cards this holiday season.

Card-Specific Shopping Portals

Make sure you take advantage of the benefits your card offers – and if you're on the hunt for a new card, see who's offering the sweetest deals. Some exclusive online shopping portals allow you to earn an extra 5% to 10% cash back on your purchases. For example, Discover's exclusive shopping portal, ShopDiscover.com, offers cash back rewards all year at over 200 online retailers like DSW, Sephora, and Saks Fifth Avenue, but they up the ante during the holidays, with many stores offering additional bonuses. Cardholders are able to receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases from department stores and online retailers from October through the end of December.

Price Matching

Citi (NYSE:C) cardmembers who sign up for the complimentary Citi Price Rewind can take comfort in knowing that Citi will search hundreds of retailers' sites for 30 days after a purchase is made. If a price is at least $25 less than what the cardmember paid, Citi will refund the difference in price – up to $250 per item and up to $1,000 annually. The benefit is available year-round, but it's particularly useful now when you may be too busy or too tired to shop for the best deals and instead just grab what you can without focusing on price.

Special Holiday Offers

Many cards offer special holiday promotions for existing cardholders. American Express (NYSE:AXP) cardholders can redeem points for selected merchandise at a 20% discount through November 30. Chase Freedom Sapphire and Ink cardholders can book rewards airfare or hotel accommodations without restrictions, earn bonus points for holiday gift shopping at the Ultimate Rewards Mall, or use existing points to acquire unique experiences, such as a meet-and-greet with the Radio City Rockettes. Chase Freedom cardholders with Ultimate Rewards will also receive $10 or 10% off select gift cards purchased with points.
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