With Thanksgiving and Black Friday around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about a points and miles strategy to get you through the holiday season. And we think this week is the absolute best time to apply for a new card before you make any holiday gift purchases for your friends and family.
Apply this week, and you should have the card in your wallet before Black Friday rolls around. That allows you to catch some great deals while hitting minimum spend requirements for a big points bonus – all for spending you’re going to do anyhow.
But let’s be clear: This isn’t an excuse to rack up charges for holiday spending you can’t afford just to earn points and miles. If you can’t afford to pay off the card immediately, don’t. Never use a credit card with high interest rates if you will carry a balance. And you should never carry a balance.
So if you can be financially responsible with a new line of credit, here’s why now is the best time to open a card for your 2019 holiday shopping.
Take Advantage of Increased Cash Back & Shopping Portals
One of the best deals in the travel rewards space for the final few months of 2019 (October through December) is the no annual fee Chase Freedom Card.
Not only does the card provide 1% cashback on every dollar you spend, but it also offers a handful of rotating Chase Freedom bonus categories that will earn 5% cashback on every dollar you spend (up to $1,500). And the current bonus categories on the card are department stores, and all purchases using PayPal or Chase Pay.
So if you plan on doing any shopping at a department store like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, or others, this is a great deal. See our full guide on the Chase Freedom bonus categories.
But it gets even better if you hold either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred cards. That’s because you can transfer the cashback bonuses into Chase Ultimate Rewards points – one cent equals one point. And since you will be earning 5% back on these select categories, that means you’re earning 5x Ultimate Rewards points. Read more about why you should have a no annual fee Chase Freedom Card, and see our full guide on transferring Chase points.
Not to mention, the 5% cashback (or 5x Ultimate Rewards Points) you earn on the Chase Freedom card can be stacked with any deals you find via an online shopping portal. You can use a site like cashbackmonitor.com to find the best deal wherever you are about to make a purchase.
And if you’ve got a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points, you can even earn Amex points instead of cashback by shopping via Rakuten.
Click Here to Learn More about the Chase Freedom Card.
The Card Will Arrive Before Black Friday
Applying for a new travel rewards card this week will allow you ample time to get the card in your hands for Black Friday on Nov. 29.
Most new cards take about five to seven business days to arrive, and if you plan on making holiday purchases on Black Friday, you’ll want your new card in hand to help work towards the minimum spending requirement. For example, the Chase Freedom Card above is currently offering $200 cashback (or 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points) after spending $500 in the first three months.
If you are planning on spending the money regardless, spending towards a sign-up bonus offer will help soften the blow.
Time to Hit the Minimum Spending Requirement
Almost every travel rewards credit card you open will give you a three-month window to hit the minimum spending requirement for those bonus points or miles.
Take, for example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is currently offering 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. And while that spending requirement is on the higher side, opening a card now, you will give have until mid-February 2020 to meet the spending required to earn the bonus.
This will ensure that all of your holiday shopping will count towards the requirement – even if it’s as small as $500, as with the Chase Freedom Card.
Points and Miles Available to Book a Winter Getaway
Let’s face it: If you live in the north, you need a winter getaway to keep your sanity and get through long and cold winter.
By putting your plan together now for what points and miles you might need to make a trip a reality, it will be easier to book your getaway when the time comes.
Follow this method: Set your goal for where you want to go and work backward. Not all points and miles will be a great option for the destination you have in mind.
For example, if Europe is on your list, earning Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points won’t do you much good – Southwest doesn’t fly to Europe. Figure out the points and miles you might need, then use your holiday spending on a card to help you get there.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are almost unbeatable as they offer a ton of flexibility when it comes time to book your travels. Not only can you use the points to book flight deals through the Chase travel portal, but you can also send them directly to Chase transfer partners to really maximize their value.
See our guide on the best ways to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred points bonus.
Now is the time to open a new card for your upcoming holiday shopping. But be strategic about it.
If you can earn some additional points and miles for spending you will be doing anyhow, that’s a win. But this doesn’t give you free rein to spend money you don’t have.