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Research: Guide to getting good rewards when holiday shopping -

One of the best ways to get the best prices and gifts this holiday season is using your credit card. If you are looking to save money this holiday season or stretch your holiday budget consider these helpful tips.

Get exclusive ticket deals to holiday events

Most of the major credit card companies – American Express, MasterCard and Visa – will offer exclusive deals to tickets to seasonal events. Contact your credit card’s customer service line to find out which venues they partner with in your area.

Go out with friends and loved ones

‘Tis the season to spend more in restaurants and out with neighbors and friends. If you are planning more restaurant or time in the bars in December, take a close look at your credit card rewards programs. You may be able to get extra points for using a particular restaurant chain or gift certificates towards eating out. Some credit cards, Chase Card for example, allow cardholders to earn extra point for a month as long as they pre-register in a particular category. So sign up early to make the most of the whole holiday season.

Entertain for the holidays

There aren’t many credit cards that cater to grocery store shopping but that shouldn’t stops you from using your card to buy food and supplies for the holidays. Using your card, even for these staples, will give you an extra month to pay the bill so you can budget to spend a bit extra in the holiday season. Some exceptions of course are if you are already carrying an overdue balance or if using the card to spend on groceries would exceed your credit limit.

Find the right gift at the right price

Often you can double your savings just by using a shopper’s portal or partner retailer. Log in to your credit card’s online portal and visit the rewards or partners page.  Remember to calculate the cost of what you are buying – not just the savings. Your credit card’s shopping portal may not always have the best deal, but it’s worth comparing! For example, MasterCard has an online portal aimed at mothers but available to every card user. The company's Holiday Rewards portal gives a $20 gift card to any shopper who spends $200.

Traveling to and from your holiday destination

Consider applying for a preferred traveler’s card. Not only can you earn points and miles to your next flight, but traveler’s cards can save you money on rental cars, travel insurance and hotels. Compare the perks of each card and make sure you check that you can use the card on any airline. A good traveler’s card does not have a fee in order to use it.

All those end of the year extras

Hold on the holiday cash for the mailman or your manicurist, car mechanic and other service people that make your life easier throughout the year. A gift card through your credit card company will have the same value for them and be redeemable on points through your credit card company.