Love doesn’t always come cheap. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more for Valentine’s Day this year.
Fortunately, you and your loved one can potentially drive down costs by celebrating before or after February 14, researching affordable gifts or simply staying at home this year. You may also be able to save (or at least recoup a dollar or two) by using your credit card.
Of course, a credit card will only really save you money if you pay your purchases off in full at the end of the month. Otherwise, you risk losing any rewards to interest. One way to ensure your balance doesn’t do too much damage to your bank account or your credit score is to pay off your credit card each day or each week from a linked checking account. (You can see how your current credit card balances may be affecting your credit scores by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.)
With that in mind, here’s how to leverage the credit cards in your wallet this Valentine’s Day.
1. Rack Up Rewards
Some credit cards let you earn extra rewards (think two-to-three points per dollar back) on your restaurant purchases, so if you’ve got one of those in your wallet, you might want to use it to pay for dinner. And, if you and your sweetie are taking a mini-vacation for Valentine’s Day weekend, you may be able to similarly reap the benefits of a good travel rewards card. (You can find a round up of the best travel credit cards in America here.)
2. Say It With Partners
Credit card issuers often partner with merchants to offer deals to their cardholders. These offers are often seasonal, so around this time of year, you may be able to get a discount and/or earn extra rewards on flowers, chocolates, gift baskets or, even, jewelry in your issuer’s online shopping mall/website. You may also want to keep an eye on your issuer’s social media accounts for special restaurant, travel or entertainment promotions. These offers could make concert tickets or seats at your favorite chef’s table more affordable.
3. Pay With Points
If you’ve been racking up points steadily all year round, you can consider tapping your reserves to pay for presents. You can often redeem points directly for a statement credit, though there may be other redemption options that are bit more valuable. For instance …
4. Get a Gift Card Deal
Many issuers let you earn extra dollars back if you redeem your rewards for a gift card. For instance, you may be able to get a $50 gift card to your sweetheart’s favorite retailer for only $40 worth of points.
You can look for holiday deals on your issuer’s rewards website or even call to inquire about what offers may be at your disposal. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions associated with any deal you’re considering; you’ll want to be aware of any caveats or redemption restrictions that may make the offer less sweet.
More Money-Saving Reads:
Image: Wavebreak Media