Why Halloween is a great way to earn extra rewards

The holiday season might be on your radar — and already incorporated into you your budget. But have you thought about Halloween? Consumer spending for the holiday exceeded $8 billion in 2016 (and has been on an upward trajectory for the past seven years), according to that National Retail Federation.

The biggest Halloween spending categories in 2016, according to the NRF, were as follows:

  • Costumes: $3.1 billion
  • Candy: $2.5 billion
  • Decorations: $2.4 billion
  • Greeting cards: $390 million

Here’s how to earn extra rewards on those categories– that you can then put toward your holiday shopping:

Use a card that offers bonus points in Halloween-friendly categories

No rewards card is going to offer “5 percent back on Halloween.” But many offer bonus categories that include stores where you can buy costumes, candy, décor and greeting cards:

  • The Blue Cash cards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) give bonus cash back at grocery stores. Grocery stores sell candy and greeting cards – and often have dedicated seasonal aisles that fill with Halloween costumes and décor the moment back-to-school season ends.

  • Several cards offer bonus rewards at warehouse stores, which sell bags of candy large enough to feed armies of trick-or-treaters, as well as costumes and fall decorations. Examples include the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card and various Navy Federal Credit Union rewards cards, which are doubling rewards at warehouse clubs through 2017.
  • For Q4 2017 (which starts Oct. 1), the Discover it card is offering 5 percent cash back at Amazon.com and at Target. These places offer a huge selection of costumes, candy, cards and spooky decorations. You get 5 percent back at Amazon and Target combined, for up to $1,500 in spending for the entire quarter. So, if your Halloween spending is modest this year, you can still cash in for holiday shopping.

Use a store card for the places you plan to shop

If you plan to concentrate your Halloween spending at a single store (and concentrate your spending at that store throughout the year), getting that store’s co-branded card could be a good move:

  • Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s warehouse clubs all have their own rewards cards that earn you cash back you can use in-store later.
  • Target’s REDCard credit card gives you an instant 5 percent off your purchase at check-out.
  • The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature gives 3 percent back on Amazon.com (as well as rewards in other categories).

Use your rewards program’s shopping portal

Credit card shopping portals let you get extra rewards at places where you normally wouldn’t earn extra rewards. Just click through from online banking and make purchases with the card issuer’s partners online. Here’s a full list of credit card rewards portals.

While partners change, major issuers currently partner with Kmart, Walmart, Hot Topic and Overstock.com, all places where you can buy Halloween costumes, decorations and candy.

Frequent flier? Your airline likely also has a shopping portal that gives you bonus miles when you buy with a retail partner. Examples of Halloween-friendly retailers partnering with major airlines include Michaels, Etsy and PetSmart (if you were thinking of buying your dog a costume).

Use a card with a high flat rate of cash back

All the suggestions above require some planning. If you want to take the easy route, get a card that gives an elevated rate of cash back on all purchases. A plethora of cards offer 1.5 percent back on everything, and you can even find cards that offer 2 percent on all purchases.

That way, you can get a nice cash-back return at places that don’t fall into cards’ bonus categories, such as Party City and Spirit Halloween.

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