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How the right card can help pay for Christmas

How the right card can help pay for Christmas

Category: Credit cards

Updated: 19/10/2017
First Published: 19/10/2017

Christmas is now little more than two months away, which means if you haven't yet decided how you'll cover the cost, now's the time to get thinking. Ideally you'll be well on your way to building up a suitable savings pot, but if it isn't up to scratch, you may need another option – and the right credit card could be invaluable.

Now, we're not advocating that you borrow money to pay for Christmas, particularly if you don't have a plan in place to repay the balance, because you certainly don't want to get into debt just for the sake of the festive period. What we are saying, however, is that a few simple tricks could help you cover the cost, provided you go about it the right way.

Get rewarded and spread the cost

A great way to help pay for Christmas – or perhaps treat yourself to something later down the line – is to open a reward credit card. These cards typically give you points for every spend, which can quickly add up and then be transferred into rewards of monetary value; you may want to build up Avios for air travel or cashback for wide-ranging benefit, but if you're thinking about the festive spend, a card linked to your favourite retailer could be ideal.

As an added bonus, a lot of these reward credit cards also offer generous interest-free offers on purchases – the top deal below is also the best 0% purchase credit card currently available, as you'll see in our Best Buys – which means you can spread the cost of your purchases and rack up rewards at the same time. It's a win-win!

  • Sainsbury's Bank's Purchase Credit Card MasterCard allows you to collect Nectar points which can be used for Sainsbury's shopping or spent through their partners. You can earn two points for every £1 spent on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel and one point for every £5 spent elsewhere, and there's a bonus offer for new customers too: earn 1,000 Nectar points each time £35 or more is spent on Sainsbury's shopping up to 10 times in your first two months, up to a total of 10,000 points. Given than 500 points is worth £2.50, this could be a great boost for loyal Sainsbury's shoppers. You could even spread the cost of your purchases with a 32-month 0% purchase term.

  • For those who prefer to shop at Tesco, the Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card for Purchases MasterCard could be ideal. This one doesn't offer an introductory bonus, but it does allow you to earn five Clubcard points per £4 spent in Tesco and one point for every £8 spent elsewhere, which can be converted to Tesco vouchers or exchanged for Partner rewards. As a general rule, 100 Clubcard points equates to £1 to be spent in-store, but they can be boosted by various means. The card also offers 30 months of 0% on purchases and a three-month 0% interest balance and money transfer term.

  • M&S Bank Shopping Plus MasterCard is a great choice for those who regularly shop at M&S, offering shoppers the chance to earn one point for every full £1 spent in Marks & Spencer and one point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points equates to a £1 reward voucher, and bonus points can be awarded at selected times. It also offers 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases for 25 months, letting you spread the cost of your festive spend as you earn rewards on it.

  • The John Lewis and Waitrose Partnership MasterCard lets you earn one point for every £1 spent in store or online at John Lewis, Waitrose and John Lewis Insurance, and one point for every £2 spent elsewhere, which can be converted into shopping vouchers (500 points = £5 voucher). As an added incentive, those who apply by 28 November and spend £500 or make a £500 balance transfer by 21 January will receive a bonus £20 John Lewis voucher. Purchases are also interest-free for nine months, and balance transfers for 18 months.

Be a savvy spender

If you want to be rewarded for your festive spending, or just want to spread the cost of Christmas, the right credit card could be a great way to pay – and if you start now, you may even be able to accumulate enough reward points to help with the big Christmas shop (subject to terms, as some providers only let you transfer points into vouchers at certain times). If you've already got this kind of credit card, it'll be worth checking the points balance, as you may have enough to help cover the cost in the months ahead.

The rule of thumb with these cards though is to make sure you repay the balance as soon as the statement arrives (unless you've got a 0% interest period on purchases, as a lot of these top deals do) to prevent interest kicking in and wiping out the benefit of any rewards. Even if you've got a 0% term, you'll want to make absolutely certain you can pay the balance off before the interest-free period ends, and that usually means you'll need to be making far more than the minimum repayment.

You'll want to make sure that your credit score is up to scratch, too, ensuring you'll be offered the best possible deals. If it is, and you're confident you can repay the balance, now's the time to get searching – if you apply now, you could have your card just in time for the big Christmas rush.

What next?

Compare the top 0% purchase credit cards

Find the best reward credit cards

Use our credit card search tool to find the right card for your needs

Disclaimer: 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.

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