Shopping and Holiday Spending
You know you’ve been on a shopping spree when your bank calls you after you’ve just spent half the day shopping to let you know there’s been a “suspicious” amount of spending on your card. Credit cards make these impulses possible, but what is important, is that you manage your cards so you don’t pay interest on your card. Holiday spending and shopping sprees can result in some serious interest repayments if you don’t manage your spending and repayments properly.
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Frequent Flyer Credit Cards Comparison
Responsible shopping and holiday spending on your credit card is hard for a lot of people and easier for others. It’s not hard to imagine being carried away by feelings of joy and happiness on a lovely holiday. We tend to forget our everyday worries and just let go. However, doing this does come with its own dangers, as many people find out the hard way upon their return home.
Using your credit card on the Internet is a great way to make purchases. You can track down pretty much anything you want in any part of the world and have it winging its way to you within a matter of hours.
Some do have concerns, however, because the Internet is a big place and you don’t always know exactly who or what you are dealing with. Credit card fraud is a worry when using the Internet, but your best bet is to make certain you follow safe procedure, and then just keep a regular check on your card statements.
If the worst happens, and your credit card details are misappropriated and used fraudulently, you should not panic. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your bank cannot hold you liable for more than $50 of fraudulent charges. Most card providers will not even do this unless you have been incredibly careless. Also be aware that lending a wayward sibling your credit card for one purchase and then having them splurge on thousands of dollars worth of goods is not considered fraud. That would be your liability. It’s common sense, really.
A good guide to using your credit card on the Internet in a safe manner is to look for a little locked padlock symbol when you are in the checkout area of a website. You should also make sure the site address starts with https not just http, as the https says it’s a secure site. Generally assess the look of the site as well. If you have any doubts, shop elsewhere.
You can do a few tweaks yourself to protect things at your end. A good Internet security suite as a must. BitDefender, ZoneAlarm and Kaspersky come out on top on most review sites, rather than the more well-known names like Norton and McAfee. Free versions can help but will usually not provide realtime protection, just a scan option to find out what has already been infected.
Card providers should also be using the Falcon automated fraud detection service that monitors card purchases. Falcon scores each purchase you make, weighing factors such as time of purchase, physical location, dollar amount, merchant name, and past usage patterns. If something looks wrong, you will be immediately contacted to verify the purchase.
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Are You A Guilty Shopper?
Did you know a recent survey done by eBay uncovered the shocking fact that around 80 per cent of Australians are actively involved in impulse buying?
These people (are you one of them?) are hiding their newly made purchases from their partners because they feel guilty about the money spent. Impulse buying is nothing new; many people do it because they need an instant feel-good fix.
While others drink excessively or abuse drugs, some people shop. I’ve had my own share of impulse buying sessions and interestingly enough, the let-down after the purchase has been made is often not worth the elation I feel just before I buy whatever it is I feel I so desperately need. I’m not sure how it works for you, but with me it usually is a case of wanting something so much for weeks on end and after contemplating the ups and downs of spending the money will see me rush to the shop in a mad dash to put an ending to my desperate ‘need.’ Once my money has changed hands, I feel this guilty let-down. It’s like draining air out of a balloon.
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Not Exactly The Right Basis To Buy Things Is It?
So how do you relate to impulse buying? Are you guilty as charged, or do you pride yourself on always buying what you need while resisting the urges to indulge?
Fact is that most of us have probably swindled our way around a particular expensive purchase at some stages when it came to questioning and answer sessions with hubby or wifey. The most hilarious part about these moments is that we ALWAYS justify our purchase, no matter how necessary it really was or how expensive.
Do you argue with your partner about money? Do you feel it is only fair you indulge into your occasional needs to indulge your shopping desires, or do you feel guilty like me when you spend money because of a mood? How do you pay for your whimsy shopping needs? Do you pay cash or is a credit card your best new friend to allow you to indulge?
If you do indulge in impulse buying, what are your vices? Are you a technology lover, do you own hundreds of pairs of shoes, or can’t you get enough of sports paraphernalia? Tell us, we want to know your guilty pleasures of shopping.
How To Prevent A Rude Awakening:
To make sure you can enjoy the rosy afterglow of a great trip away from home you should consider the following before you indulge into your shopping and holiday spending urges on a far-away tropical island, or in the swanky metropolis of a popular city.
- Save up: Do yourself a favour and save money prior to heading away for a holiday. Put aside as much as you can handle each week and deposit the money into a high interest savings account. If you can do this with a year to spare you might benefit from nice rates, given you even more bang for your buck.
- Do you REALLY NEED this: Before you swipe your card for that sexy new dress, or the glitzy Jimmy Choo’s, you need to ask yourself whether you REALLY need to make this purchase. It often helps to sleep on a decision before you actually buy.
- Do you want this item because of your current state of emotion: You’d be surprised to learn how often we buy because of our emotions. Often when we are sad, frustrated or angry we are in need of a quick fix – shopping. Avoid the trap and recognise the signs, then treat yourself to a cheaper way to fix the issue at hand. Try a cup of coffee, yoga, a brisk walk, or talking to your partner instead.
- Avoid peer pressure: Peer pressure is as big if not bigger than at school. When you travel with an adult friend who can generally afford to spend more money than you, it’s easy to get sucked into their flashy lifestyle. But don’t! Unless you are ready to deal with the consequences when you get back home. The best way to beat this trap is by not travelling with rich friends, unless they pay the bill.
- Book cheaper accommodation: If you choose a slightly cheaper accommodation rate you will have more money to spend on your credit cards.
Take the pressure off by enjoying the things that really matter. Instead of focusing on expensive purchases, why not enjoy the time with your friends and family, the sun (hopefully,) and the location. These memories mean so much more than any purchase you make. Shopping and holiday spending should be fun, and they only are if the pressure is off.
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There is nothing quite as enjoyable as making your way home with a brand new piece of jewelry that you simply couldn’t leave in the shop or the latest gadget that was begging you to take it home. There are very few people who don’t enjoy a spot of shopping now and again. The problem starts when the credit card bill arrives and you realise that, in effect, you are paying three or four times the value of the item you purchased due to high interest rates. That is why the perfect alternative is finding credit cards with low interest rates.
Credit cards with low interest rates are a great option for guilt-free shopping because you won’t end up paying much more for your purchases over the long term. In fact, you can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars in time due to the lower interest rates that these credit cards come with.
Credit cards with low interest rates are the perfect solution for people who regularly have an outstanding balance on their cards. Even if you are the kind of person that never overspends and pays off their bill in full every month, it is still worth looking for credit cards with low interest rates because you never know what might happen or when an emergency might arise.
The Store Credit Card: Your Biggest Enemy
Do you think it is a coincidence that store cards offer apparently amazing deals during the Christmas season? They certainly don’t do it just because they want you to be able to enjoy your Christmas shopping more. They do it because they know you will most likely use the credit card to make large purchases, which they encourage through discounts and other means. They expect you to buy more expensive items, because, after all, it’s Christmas and after working hard for a year, you deserve it. You can pay for it later, right?
Well, stores and lenders know this all too well, which is why they often offer a 0% rate on the first few months, just to draw you in, much like a fisherman reeling fish in. They know that you will see it as free money and spend more than you intended and will then be unable to pay the bill in full before the introductory rate expires. After the introductory period runs out, you find yourself paying between 20% and 30% per annum, which suddenly takes the sparkle out of that initial, tempting offer.
Retail Credit Cards Comparison
Even though you should jump at the chance of an offer for credit cards with low interest rates, you should still compare the different offers available. This is because some offers might feature a better interest rate, while others might include extra benefits such as a great balance transfer deal, which will help you get other high interest credit card debt under control, or an excellent rewards programme. Still others might feature a lower annual fee or no annual fee at all.
Responsible Card Usage
If you want to stay out of debt or keep your debt at a manageable level without incurring massive interest costs, then you need to seriously consider shopping around for credit cards with low interest rates. It would be irresponsible not to look for a low interest rate card if you know you regularly have an outstanding balance on your card because you are simply throwing money out of the window.
Credit cards with low interest rates are an excellent way to keep your debt down while still enjoying a nice spot of shopping on a regular basis, without all the guilt that usually goes with it.
Use the System Against the System
Of course, savvy credit card holders know how to use the system against the system. In other words, they know how to limit their spending and take advantage of the interest free period. The key is to simply be objective regarding how much you can truly afford to spend on your Christmas shopping.
So, if you have three months with a 0% rate, then calculate exactly how much you can pay off in those three months and don’t spend more than that. This way you will be able to take advantage of the credit card to have a nice Christmas, while not digging yourself deeper into debt.
Get Rid of Unused Cards
If you have done any credit card balance transfers, then you may have more than one card laying around. If you are not actually using them, then call the card company and cancel it. That way you will not be tempted to pull it out for an impulse purchase.
Unused cards laying around lead to temptation and ultimately overspending on your credit cards.
Try to Avoid Using it Everyday
It can be very easy to become card dependant, and start using your credit card more than you use cash. This is not a good habit to get used to. As much as you can, use cash, or at least a debit card when paying for daily goods, such as fuel or groceries.
Saving your credit card for only certain types of transactions will assist you greatly in keeping your costs down, and ensure you do not fall into the trap of overspending.
The final aspect of this guide to using your credit card on the Internet is accessing your credit card account via online banking. This is something most decent providers should offer, and it allows you to keep track of your purchases without waiting for your monthly statement. It also allows you to pay down your balance on a weekly basis if you want, which helps keep the per-day interest charges to a minimum if you are carrying a debt over from the previous month.
We have written a number of articles covering the topic of Shopping and Holiday Spending on your credit card, to help guide you in the right direction to help ensure that you don’t pay interest on your purchases:
Ideas for dealing with holiday credit card debt:
- Put away your credit cards. Maybe not forever, but at least until your debt is paid off you should stop using them completely. You might need to put them in a box in your closet or freeze them in a block of ice to keep from spending, but do whatever you need to do to stop adding to your debt. The last thing you want to do is to make things worse then they already are by losing interest free days and tacking on even more interest. Set up a short term budget that allows you to purchase everything you need in cash.
- Make large payments right away. This is especially important if you have interest free days available. By paying off as much as you can afford during that period you greatly reduce the amount of your balance. That amount is what you will be charged interest on, a higher balance means more interest.
- Find some extra money. As you are taking down your holiday decorations scan your home for items that you no longer want or need. Many of those items still have value to the right person, so take the time to sell them online and put those profits toward your holiday debt. You might be surprised at how much you can earn and how nice it feels to rid your home of excess stuff.
- Set a goal that you can reach. Just because it only took you a month or two to get into holiday credit card debt does not mean it will take you only that long to get out of it. Try to set a goal that is reachable with out forcing yourself to struggle too much to attain it. Also, make sure you leave yourself room between the pay off date and the next holiday just to breathe and enjoy being debt free.
Paying off your holiday credit card debt is important. Too often people wind up stressed out and miserable at holiday time because they still have not paid of last years expenses. All you have to do is find a debt reduction plan that works for you and stick to it.
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