Max Out your Points and Card Benefits in December

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It’s December—time for holiday shopping, festivities, and the frequent flyer’s rush to top up mileage earning before the end of the year.  To help you out, we’ve made a list of a few things you’ll want to consider right now. You’ll want to be sure you’re maxing out your holiday mileage earning and taking advantage of any credit card bonuses available to you that will be expiring at the end of the year.

Max out Mileage Earning

First and foremost, make sure you’re using your mileage earning credit card to do your holiday shopping. We aren’t just talking about gift buying. Think about all the things you’ll be spending money on this month: holiday dinners, Nutcracker tickets, the dress you need for the office party, treats for your clients, or gift cards for your kid’s teachers.

For each of the purchases you’ll make, you’ll want to choose the card that has the best category bonus for what you’re purchasing. For a holiday dinner out at a restaurant, for example, use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x points on dining or your Chase Sapphire Preferred for 2x points. If you’re hosting a big family dinner at home shop at the supermarket and use your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for 6% cash back (on up to 6,000 dollars per year, then 1%). If you’re a big department store shopper, you’ll want to be sure you’re registered for the Q4 Chase Freedom Bonus by December 14 to max out the 5% quarterly bonus.

Double up

For items you’re purchasing online, you’ll want to multiply your points buy making your purchases through an airline or credit card online shopping portal like the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall or the American AAdvantage e-shopping Mall. Shopping portals are simply landing pages which access the regular online stores you shop at. By clicking through these pages you’ll earn multiple bonus points on all your purchases in addition to the points you’re already earning from your credit card. If you’re an Amazon shopper check out the United Mileage Plus X app to earn bonus points (you’ll earn even more when paying with the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card from Chase).

Claim Your Annual Bonuses

If you’ve got a credit card with a bonus that runs according to the calendar year, make time in the next week or so to make sure you’ve claimed your bonus for 2016 and met any requirements needed to earn it. If you have the American Express Platinum Card for example, you’re eligible for a $200 credit on the airline you’ve designated each year. For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get an annual travel credit of $300. These bonuses will reset on January 1—so if you haven’t made the charges that will be credited for these bonuses, you’ll want to do that as soon as possible so they have time to clear before year end.

Meet Annual Spending Threshold

Some cards like the Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard card give you special bonuses if you meet a spending threshold within a calendar year. For the Citi AAdvantage Executive WorldElite Mastercard you earn a bonus of 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles when you reach a spending threshold of $40,000 in a calendar year.

If you’ve got a card that has a spending threshold, double check that you’re on target to reach it before the end of the month. Remember that annual fees and any returns won’t count toward the spend. If in doubt, make a call to your credit card provider. You don’t want to wind up just a few dollars short.

Reach a New Minimum Spend

If you’re planning to spend a big chunk of change this month, there’s still time to consider getting a new credit card and using your holiday purchases to meet the minimum spend required to receive the signup bonus. Two great offers to consider this month are the brand new Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offering 80,000 Ultimate Rewards point after a minimum spend of $5,000 in the first three months.

To get your new credit card in hand as quickly as possible you’ll want to apply online. Once approved, make a call to the bank (the number will be on your approval) and ask for the card to be expedited. Most banks will overnight or send your card in 2 days.  Other cards, like the American Express Platinum, will issue your card number and details in advance so you can make online purchases while you’re waiting for you card to arrive.