Don't panic, but there are now only five weeks left until Christmas. If you're still wondering how you're going to pay for it all, you may want to think fast, as you could be running out of time to snap up a competitive credit card and maybe get some nice cashback on your festive shop.
"The cost of Christmas will no doubt be on the minds of many consumers now that just five weeks remain until the big day," Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said. "With a plentiful amount of sales already in full swing, consumers will no doubt feel the pressure to grab some bargains this year and could be looking to credit cards for their festive spend."
Credit cards, while coming with the usual risks associated with taking out any debt, can offer a means of spreading the cost of purchases if you don't have the money to pay for it straight away. Indeed, 0% interest purchase credit cards are specifically designed to help people pay for one large purchase or several smaller ones and give them time to pay off the balance without interest adding to the debt.
However, those who can easily afford the Christmas shop could still benefit from putting the spend on plastic, thanks to cashback and reward cards. "There is still time to get a credit card to use for Christmas shopping, as it typically takes between seven to 10 days to receive a card in the post when applying online," Rachel explained. "However, consumers will need to be quick to be able to take advantage of some newly launched offers and extra cashback deals."
The table above shows the most competitive cards currently available. It seems that providers have also taken note of the impending holiday season, as several have launched new cashback deals recently. "Barclaycard launched a brand-new cashback card last week, paying 0.25% for each purchase and entering the Best Buys for cashback cards as a result," Rachel commented.
"The best deal, though, remains with American Express, which offers an Everyday Cashback Card paying 5% cashback for the first three months, plus the provider is once again running its 'shop small' incentive for two weeks in December. If shoppers spend £10 or more, they can get £5 back on single transactions, but consumers must register their card to be eligible."
Aside from these improved or newly launched cashback deals, Rachel also reminds people to make the most of their loyalty and reward cards. "This time of year, shoppers would do well to take advantage of any points they have accumulated over the past 12 months on reward credit cards, such as with Sainsbury's Nectar and Tesco Clubcard schemes, if they haven't already," she added.
Even if you've already done all your Christmas shopping – in which case we'd like to offer our congratulations, well done! – you can still find some other ways to get a bit of free cash. Switching your current account is one suggestion offered by Rachel, with "Halifax still offering a switching incentive of up to £135, plus a £2 monthly reward and up to 15% cashback if certain criteria are met. Shoppers can also get £185 in gift cards from M&S Bank if they switch and stay for 12 months.
"Cashback websites are a fantastic choice for consumers who don't want to change any of their financial arrangements … as shoppers can earn a little extra on different purchases." Otherwise it's a matter of hunting for offers, which the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday could help with.
"The cost of Christmas has been estimated to be £1,206 per person, according to American Express, so the pressure is on for households who may not have any means to cover the expense," Rachel concluded. "Just remember that there is help out there for those who may struggle this year; they would be wise to seek out advice to ensure financial pressure doesn't ruin any festive joy."
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.