In 2012 Americans plan to spend $854 on holiday gifts from Thanksgiving to the New Year, nearly $200 more than in 2011. For the average consumer, this amounts to $8.54 in cash back rewards on a 1% cash back card. It also brings about the opportunity for hundreds of dollars in extra rewards.

Here’s how you can play rewards cards for the best holiday shopping haul:

  1. Grab a sign up bonus – Banks are eager to get new credit card customers, meaning that they’re willing to pay people just to sign up. People with good credit can score as much as $200 in cash just for signing up and using a new credit card.
  2. No interest shopping – Credit cards come with zero interest offers alongside lucrative sign-on bonuses. If you sign up to a zero interest card with 18 months of zero interest on any balances, you will have up to 18 months to pay off your holiday purchases before you pay a dime in interest. The best part is that you can pay slowly on the card and finish paying it off a year and a half after purchase.
  3. Get cash back – Cash back rewards of 1% on all purchases are absolutely not hard to find. In fact, those with good credit can find sign up bonus cards with zero percent interest periods and 1% cash back on all purchases all wrapped into one high-quality credit card. If you use the card for all your holiday expenditures – gifts, traveling costs, hospitality expenses, meals, etc. – you can likely reach your first payout in the first two billing cycles. Cash back rewards can be redeemed for statement credits or gift cards.

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