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Friday, October 3, 2008

Stress-Free Christmas Part 3

Christmas countdown banner

Last week's Stress-Free Christmas was all about budgeting and going credit-free for Christmas gift shopping. Let's stay on the topic of finances this week and talk about a great way to get free gifts for some of the people on your shopping list.

While we have chosen to go credit-free (and never regretted it!), we can still take advantage of reward points offered by our bank. I've heard many people say that the only way they can get "points" is by having and using a credit card. I beg to differ. Our bank, National City, offers points for writing checks, using your debit card, and using their online bill payment system. Granted, they offer more points when you use a credit card, but it's not worth the points to go into debt. We stick with our debit card and still end up with a decent number of points.

We usually allow our points to accumulate through the year, building up to Christmas. This year we were doing some home improvement projects and used some of them to get a Lowe's gift card part way through the year. But last Christmas we redeemed some points for a $100 Amazon gift card. We used this to purchase our daughter's doll house online. That was her "big gift", and we didn't pay a dime for it!

If you want earn points through your bank and want to redeem some for gift cards or other merchandise, NOW is the time to start thinking about it. Some of the rewards take weeks or even a couple of months to arrive. Waiting until December to redeem your points may mean not having your gifts in time.
If your bank doesn't offer points for anything but credit card usage, you may want to consider looking into an account with National City or another bank that offers a wider variety of ways to earn points.

We haven't yet decided who we're getting points-gifts for, so we may opt to just get an Amazon card again. We always end up buying multiple gift items from Amazon, so I know that we would use every penny of the card we get. Maybe you can find some great points-gifts for the people on your list too.

If you've missed the first two parts of my Stress-Free Christmas series, you can find all of the series entries here.