Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest shopping days of the year. Shoppers spend November and December seeking out the best deals on presents for friends and family. The National Retail Federation estimates that shoppers will spend ~$960 billion between November and December 2023 on holiday presents. This breaks down to an average of $875 per family. If you’re going to spend the money, this is an excellent opportunity to earn thousands of airline miles, hotel points, and travel rewards. Here are ten tips to maximize rewards on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday shopping.
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How to maximize rewards on Black Friday
I love credit cards that earn travel rewards and cash back for shopping. But how do we maximize those points, miles, and cash back? And what about readers who use debit cards because they’re focusing on paying off their debt? I have tips that will work for everyone.
Here are my favorite ways to maximize rewards on Black Friday and while holiday shopping.
Know your credit card bonus categories
One of the great things about credit cards is that the good ones offer bonus rewards when spending with certain categories of merchants. As you’re plotting out your Black Friday shopping strategy, make sure you bring along and use the credit cards that will reward you the most. Bonus categories can help you earn 2x, 3x, 4x or more rewards on eligible purchases.
Common bonus categories include travel, dining, groceries, and gas. Some credit cards offer rotating bonus categories based on where you spend the most or categories chosen by the bank. Learn more about the best credit cards featuring bonus categories.
Buy gift cards for maximum rewards
If the stores that you want to buy gifts at do not match up with your credit card bonus categories, don’t worry. Do what I do. Many retailers offer gift cards at grocery stores, gas stations, Amazon.com, and office supply stores.
Simply buy your gift cards ahead of time to earn maximum rewards for your Black Friday shopping.
If you’re at the store and need a little extra, use the United MileagePlus X app for instant rewards or cash back. For these apps, I like using a credit card that earns at least 2% cash back to maximize rewards.
Buy discounted gift cards
Saving money is just as good (if not better) than earning bunches of miles and points. One of the best ways to save money on Black Friday and holiday shopping is to buy discounted gift cards. You can buy discounted gift cards at websites like Gift Card Granny, Raise, and Cardpool.
The savings can be significant. A quick scan of these sites finds deals up to 20% off face value!
Shopping portals are your friend
When you shop online, whatever you do, DO NOT GO STRAIGHT TO THE RETAILER’S WEBSITE. Shop through an online portal that will give you rewards or cash back for about 15 seconds of your time. Depending on the size of your purchases, the rewards can be huge!
For cash back, go to sites like Ebates (referral link $10 for signing up), Top Cash Back (referral link), and Mr. Rebates (referral link). To earn airline miles, Google “[[favorite airline]] shopping portal” and you’ll be earning miles in a hurry!
My friends at CashBackMonitor offer portals that consolidate and compare the rewards and cash back deals found across all of the airlines, hotels, and cashback websites.
American Express Offers
American Express cardholders have great incentive to use their Amex credit cards when shopping at certain retailers. Log into your American Express account and you’ll find something called “Amex Offers.” These personalized offers provide great savings at retailers, hotels, and merchants based on your spending patterns and Amex history.
For Amex cardholders that have multiple American Express credit cards, the offers may vary from card to card.
The good thing is that these offers are good for both online and in-store purchases. And remember that these Amex Offers are available all year long. Log into your account every few weeks to see what offers are available.
Chase recently added offers of their own for cardholders. They’re not as extensive as what you’ll find with American Express, but they do offer a great way to save money.
You will only find Chase Offers on the mobile app, so don’t bother looking on their website.
Are you worried that you’re not getting the best deal on your purchase? This is where Price Protection comes in! Price Protection will refund you the difference between the price you paid and the lower price found elsewhere.
Not every credit card offers Price Protection. And for those that do, the benefits will vary. In general, you will be reimbursed up to a specific amount on eligible purchases if a lower price is found within 60 to 120 days. There is a maximum coverage amount per year.
While neither American Express or Chase offer Price Protection, some cards from Citibank and Capital One do. Be sure to look up your credit card benefits or call customer service to verify if your card offers it.
Purchase Protection protects you in case your purchase is lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged within a short time after buying it. Some credit cards also reimburse you in case the retailer will not accept a return of your purchase. This benefit is widely available on rewards credit cards, but double-check your benefits first.
Retailers always want you to buy a warranty from them. The reason? Because they have HUGE profit margins!
Credit cards that offer extended warranties will usually double the manufacturer’s warranty period, up to a maximum of two years. The biggest worry you’ll have is to keep the receipt and good records of your purchases.
New credit card bonus
Buying a bunch of gifts is a great way to meet the minimum spending requirements for a new credit card. Although it may be too late to receive a new credit card in time for Black Friday, there’s still plenty of shopping opportunities between now and Christmas.
Spending money on gifts can bring out the Grinch in just about anyone. However, if you know that these purchases are helping to pay for an upcoming vacation, you’ll be saying “Ho Ho Ho” in no time.
The Bald Thoughts
Black Friday and Christmas shopping are great opportunities to earn thousands of extra airline miles, hotel points, and travel rewards. Many credit cards offer bonuses for spending at specific merchants. If your store doesn’t qualify, there are ways to buy gift cards to save money or earn extra rewards. When shopping online, always go through a portal to earn cash back or additional rewards. And, with the increased spending around the holidays, this is a perfect time to meet minimum spend requirements on a new credit card.
What are your favorite ways to maximize rewards during Black Friday? Let us know in the comment section below.
Thinking of getting a new credit card?
To see the best credit card offers available, go to our credit card marketplace to find your next card.
Originally published November 21, 2018, on BaldThoughts.com. Updated November 23, 2023.