The shortest month of the year packs plenty of eventful opportunities to spend, like Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday and Presidents Day.
Whether you’re passionate about a football team, going big for a special someone or hyped for a three-day weekend, the credit cards in your wallet may offer rewards on planned purchases. They can also help lower the cost of some bills or get you organized for tax time.
Here’s how to make the most of your credit cards this month.
If you’re participating in any of this month’s events, plan out which of your credit cards will earn the most rewards in certain categories.
Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with friends, family, a special someone or your fabulous self, the right credit card can defray a portion of the cost of that special dinner, treats, cards or flowers picked up at the grocery store. A credit card like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card , NerdWallet's winner for best card for entertainment in 2022 , earns outsized rewards on those purchases. It has a $95 annual fee, but it offers 4% cash back on dining (including takeout and delivery), eligible streaming services and entertainment; 3% cash back at grocery stores; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Nerdy tip: Buying a special gift for Valentine’s Day? Many major credit card issuers offer targeted rebates or additional rewards for shopping with select merchants. American Express, for instance, has AmEx Offers which allow you to enroll AmEx cards in targeted offers to earn bonus points or a statement credit for eligible purchases. Try shopping through a credit card bonus mall to earn even more rewards.
If your Super Bowl plans involve dusting off the barbecue or setting up snack and drink tables, a credit card that earns elevated rewards on grocery store or restaurant purchases will offset some of the cost. For example, the $0 -annual-fee Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers 5% back in your highest-spending eligible category each billing cycle from a list of 10 options that include grocery stores and restaurants. It earns 1% back on everything else. If this card was used for the sole purpose of buying groceries, you’d score $25 per month (or $300 annually) just by maxing out the spending limit.
During an out-of-town trip for the long weekend, you can guzzle more value with a credit card that earns high rewards on gas. A card like the $95 -annual-fee U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is excellent for road trips since it rewards meals, gas and accommodations purchased for the getaway. It earns 5 points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center; 4 points per dollar on travel, gas stations and EV charging stations; 2 points per dollar at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and dining; and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.
If you’re working on new year resolutions like saving money or getting out of debt, a credit card can be a useful tool when used wisely.
With good credit ( a FICO score of 690 or higher ), a balance transfer credit card like the $0 -annual-fee Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card can offer a way out of debt. It lets you move debt from a high-interest credit card onto it to get a lower interest rate.
You'll get a 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then an ongoing APR of 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods. There’s a 3% fee charged on the amount transferred, but it’s worth the cost if it means getting ahead on debt by saving money on interest payments over time.
Also look to your credit cards to unpack benefits that may save money. Some cards like the $0 -annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card , for instance, offer cell phone protection insurance (up to $600, for up to two claims per 12 month period) for a damaged or stolen device when you use the card to pay the monthly bill. It can potentially free up some money in the budget — especially if you’re currently paying a provider for coverage on multiple lines. Read the terms carefully to understand the type of coverage offered and possible limitations.
Credit cards can also help you get organized for tax time. For itemized deductions, your credit cards may provide a year-end summary on spending that helps narrow down medical expenses and charitable contributions, for example.
Those same credit cards might also offer targeted discounts on tax preparation services or software, and rewards when you pay for them. If you have a credit card with a major issuer, log in to your account to see if any of these kinds of offers are on the table.