Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us now (much to the relief of some Scrooges), there is still a lot of holiday shopping to be done. The biggest news this week was all about smart holiday shopping and spending, with some great tips on how to make money by spending it.
Credit card expert Jason Steele is a master of the gift card that gives back to you. As many holiday shoppers opt to buy gift cards for their friends and family, there is a smart way to make your money go even further by leveraging your gifts for rewards cash for you.
If your mom has asked for a gift card to Macy’s, for example, check your credit card arsenal to see if the 5% cash-back category applies to department stores or if Macy’s has a special partnership with your card issuer. Steele also has a super-smart suggestion to make the most of your grocery cash-back category. Since grocery stores have begun to get into the business of selling gift cards to other retailers as well, by buying your gift cards there you can get major cash-back rewards.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sent out a bulletin Thursday to advise specialty credit reporting agencies that the bureau expects these agencies to make an annual credit report easily accessible to consumers, just like the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.
The announcement is a significant one since it recognizes the growth of non-traditional credit reporting agencies, which use landlord, medical, check-writing, insurance and other records to determine creditworthiness. The major caveat with this CFPB announcement is that these non-traditional agencies don’t have to give you a free credit report, they simply need to provide you a copy at a reasonable fee. Still, consumers — especially those with thin credit files at the major bureaus — are getting a great tool to help them understand what they can do to build their credit. If you want a peek at your credit score for free, try our Credit Report Card as well.
Elves aren’t the only ones working hard this holiday season — scammers are also hard at work to defraud you of that Christmas cash.
North Carolina’s attorney general is warning consumers about making sure they shop safely online. The key tips are to look for the “https” in URLs to ensure a secure connection when inputing credit card information to a site. Also, sticking to sites that you know and trust are preferred to unknown retailers. Some scammers are creating fake retail sites to snag your credit card number, and the fakes can be pretty convincing.
Image: NS Newsflash, via Flickr