According to the Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index, Americans are amping up spending in many leisure and luxury categories, such as vacations, gifts, theme park vacations, and movies. The index studies Chase card holders and how they spend their money and since a high percentage of Americans are Chase cardholders, we can look at their spending habits as representative of a large slice of the population.
Perhaps weary of being cautious and penny-pinching throughout the recent financial crisis, spending was higher in almost all recreational categories during the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same time period in 2011. Spending on gift items like jewelry was higher, and also on flowers – probably due to holidays like Valentine`s Day and Mother`s Day – and Chase card holders also spent more on electronics from during May, with the category jumping in spending by 21 percent between April and May.
Burning a Hole in Their Pockets
Let`s see what Chase cardholders spent money on during the first quarter of 2012, compared to what they spent in 2011:
- Twenty-one percent increase in spending at theme parks
- Twenty-four percent increase in spending at movie theaters
- Seven percent increase in spending at ski resorts, golf courses and campgrounds
Gift-giving can be measured by the jump in spending between April and May 2011, the season of graduations and Mother`s Day, when flower-buying doubled, jewelry spending leapt up by 28 percent, and electronic expenditures were up by 21 percent.
Spending Fueled by Rewards Programs
While people have their pocketbooks out, they can use credit cards to maximize their money, getting extra bang from a buck by utilizing rewards programs like those offered by the Chase Freedom card, which gives cash back in rotating categories, similar to the rewards programs offered by Discover Card.
The rewards offered by the Chase Freedom card this spring and summer are in the following categories:
- Movies and groceries – cardholders can get five percent cash back on all purchases made at grocery stores and movie theaters through June 30, up to a maximum of $75 back when they spend $1500 in these categories.
- Floral merchants – selected flower sellers from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program will give extra reward points to customers purchasing flowers using their Chase Freedom credit cards. Partners include ProFlowers, KaBloom, and 1-800-Flowers.com. Eligible purchases will get up to 15 bonus points per dollar spent.
- Electronics – When buying electronics on Sundays, Chase card holders can get the best bargains. Card holders should look at the Chase Ultimate Rewards site for more details.
- Gas Stations and Restaurants – From July through September, peak road-trip season, the cash back reward for Chase Freedom card holders will be five percent for up to $1,500 in spending.
- Hotels and Airlines – Also June through September, Chase offers extra cash back on purchases from airlines and hotels, so customers can get the most back from their vacation plans.
- Best Buy and Kohl`s – Looking past the summer to the back-to-school season, Chase Freedom members can get five percent cash back at Best Buy and Kohl`s, where they`ll find everything from school supplies to first-day-of-school outfits.
The attitude of consumers seems to be that if you`ve got it, you may as well spend it. While you`ve spending it, you may as well use a credit card to get cash back or other rewards. The good news will be if this upward trend in spending continues through the rest of the year. The best news will be if this upward trend in spending continues through the rest of the year.