I'm getting holiday shopping started now with credit card rewards

Jen A. Miller picture

It might be the end of the hottest summer on record, but I'm eying my credit card rewards points with a much cooler goal in mind: holiday shopping.

This year, I'll do most if not all of it through gift cards "purchased" by my credit card rewards.

Those points will go toward gift cards that I will use to buy gifts or hand over to the person who is hard to shop for.

I did half of my shopping like this last year. It worked really well, because it made an expensive event much more affordable.

Sure, I could use those credit card points to book a flight somewhere or pay for a new pair of jeans, but I'd still need to go out and spend to buy toys for my three nephews.

Plus, I'm getting more bang for my buck than if I used the points to apply a cash credit to my account, because my rewards programs with Discover and Chase make gift cards more lucrative than cash.

I already pay off my balances every month just fine, so I'll take the extra bonus, even if it's $5.

It also helps me stay on budget. I'm less likely to go over the dollar amount I set per person if I have a finite amount of money in hand.

Why do this now?

First, I'm an early shopper. Second, it gives me time to compare gift card offerings and plans so I can decide now which card to use more often to get the points required for the gift cards.

Best of all? I'll be done by Thanksgiving, and then I can really relax when the holidays roll around.