As the month in which we celebrate Halloween, October kicks off the end-of-year spending season. The National Retail Federation predicts that Halloween spending will total$8.4 billion this year — the highest amountsince the federation began its annual surveys in 2005. That’s a lot of candy and costumes. Before you start shopping, take a moment to browse our top credit card tips for October 2016.
Activate your bonus rewards categories
If you have a credit card withrotatingbonus categories, the arrivalof October means it’s time to activate yourrewardsfor the final quarter of 2016. Issuers tend to tailor the categories for maximumseasonal impact, and they expectyou’ll be doing a lot of giftshopping from now untilthe new year. Here are the Q4 categories for popular cards:
– Chase Freedom®:5% cash back atdepartment stores, wholesale clubs, and drugstores.
– Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card : 5% cash back at Best Buy and department stores.
– Discover it® – Cashback Match™:5% cash back atAmazon.com, department stores, Sam’s Club.
– U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card:5% cash back in two categoriesthat you choose, includingcell phones, bookstores, department stores, electronics stores and more.
The amount of spending eligible for 5% cash back is capped at $2,000 per quarter for the U.S. Bank card, $1,500 forthe other cards.
Look intoairline and travel card sign-up bonuses
NerdWallet’s 2016 Travel Credit Card Studyfound thatcredit card issuers tend to offer their best limited-time offersfor travel and airline cards beginning in October and peaking in November. These sign-up bonuses commonlyoffer something like 50,000 miles or points if you spend, say, $3,000 within the first three months you have the card.
If you have your eye ona Citi credit card, NerdWallet’s study found thatCiti’s bestlimited-time offers have been offered in October.
Another good reason to apply now for a new card with a great sign-up bonus is that you’re more likelyto meet the threshold to earn the bonus.If you put all your holiday spending — gifts, decorations, food and drink — on the new card, it may be fairly easy tohit that number in the allotted time.
Get your credit score
Last month, we encouraged you to pull your credit report. Now that you’ve taken care of that, why not get your credit score? NerdWallet offers free TransUnion credit scores, which are updated weekly. (Sign up for your free credit score here.) Meanwhile, most majorcredit card issuers now give their cardholders free access to FICO scores.
There are many good reasons to keep tabs onyour credit score. First, you can see the effects of your credit behavior, which canhelp you develop good money management habits that will lead to a higher score.
Another benefit of knowing your score is that you’ll be more likely to apply for the right credit card. If you’ve got an average credit score, there’s no point in applying for a credit card that requires excellent credit, which will only result in a rejection (and a further hit to your score). Nobody likes to berejected foranything, whether it’s a date, a team, a college or a credit card.NerdWallet offersfree credit scores so that you have a better chance of being approved.
The article NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for October 2016 originally appeared on NerdWallet.