If you are planning to brave the crowds on Black Friday, you will probably be taking a few credit cards along for the ride. The post-Thanksgiving season is a great time to snag bargains and find wonderful deals, but it is all too easy to overspend and put your financial future at risk.
Preparation is the key to shopping success on Black Friday, and that goes for your credit cards as well. Spending a few minutes after Thanksgiving dinner will make your shopping experience the next day safer, more fun and less stressful.
Take a Wallet Inventory
One of the most important preparations you can make is taking an inventory of the cards in your wallet. Pull all the cards out of your wallet, including ATM cards, credit cards and debit cards, then make a list of account numbers and customer service contact information. If you lose your wallet on your shopping expedition, you will be glad you took the time to take that inventory.
Before you put the cards back in your wallet, ask yourself if you really need to carry them. For most shoppers one or two credit cards will be plenty. Carrying additional cards in your wallet just puts your finances at risk. Use this exercise to lighten up your wallet and place those extra credit cards in a safe place at home.
Bring Along a Receipt Envelope
You will be buying lots of stuff on Black Friday, and that means plenty of receipts to keep track of. You never know when you will need to return or exchange something you bought, so you will need to keep your receipts in a safe place.
Grab an envelope for receipts and place it in your pocket or purse. When you get a receipt, put it safely in the envelope before you leave the store. Even better, sign up for electronic receipt delivery whenever you can. Having the receipts emailed to yourself is convenient and much safer than carrying them around.
Check Price Match Policies
Many credit card issuers have price matching policies in place, but it is important to understand the fine print before choosing a card. Some banks will automatically refund the difference if an item you bought goes on sale later, while others require cardholders to submit receipts to claim the loot.
Price match policies also come with a number of exclusions, and those could affect your Black Friday shopping plans. Doorbuster items and products stocked in limited quantities may be exempt from the price matching policy. The best way to understand the exclusions is to call the issuer directly and ask about the items you have in mind.
Check the Reward Points
Black Friday is the perfect time to rack up some serious reward points. Whether you choose airline miles, cash back or a gift card to your favorite restaurant, credit card perks are a great way to reward yourself for being a smart shopper.
Take a few minutes on Thanksgiving night to evaluate the current reward offers and stock your wallet accordingly. Many reward programs offer extra points for purchases in certain categories, like merchandise you buy at retail stores and dining or gas. Mark each card accordingly and use it where it will accumulate the maximum number of reward points.
Shopping on Black Friday can be a trying experience, but your credit cards do not have to be a source of stress. Making a few preparations ahead of time will help you get the most from all your purchases, while staying safe and maximize the savings you are seeking.