Buying gifts for wedding and baby showers can get expensive, especially if you’ve got more than one coming up over the next few months. But since you have to make these purchases anyway you might as well get some extra credit card rewards and points from all of those mixing bowls, cheese knives, tiny onesies and teething rings, right?
“There aren’t usually extra discounts or credit card rewards for specific items, but by using the right card, choosing the right retailer, or both, you may be able to save some money and earn some nice rewards on these kinds of gifts,” says John Ganotis, founder of CreditCardInsider.com. “You just need to know where to look.”
If you’ve got a handful of baby and/or wedding showers on the horizon, here are some of the best ways to leverage your credit cards to get extra points and rewards out of common registry items.
Shop through portals
Wedding and baby registries are frequently tied to specific retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond or Target, but that doesn’t mean you are shackled to these outlets at the expense of earning rewards and points.
Many major credit cards issuers offer discounts when you shop through portals on their websites, so, if your card’s portal doesn’t partner with the store where your loved one is registered, give yourself some flexibility and shop for the items they want at different retailers to save money or earn extra rewards.
For example, Discover has Discover Deals, which offers extra cash back at Wal-Mart and Macy’s online.
Many registry staples can also be found on travel-rewards program portals, meaning extra miles when you click through. For instance, you can earn 4 Hawaiian Airlines miles per dollar spent at Macy’s. Likewise, you can earn 4 Amtrak points via the Amtrak shopping portal when you click through to Pottery Barn.
MrRebates.com is another popular portal option, offering up to 30 percent cash back from nearly 2,000 retailers. It also features a Store Of The Week section where cash-back percentages are temporarily increased.
“I recently bought a brand-name mixer for a newly married couple and I was able to save money and earn rewards using a shopping portal instead of the standard retail option listed on their registry,” says credit card and travel journalist Jason Steele. “They had registered for the mixer through a department store charging full price, but I found the same mixer through a credit card shopping portal. As the gift giver, these portals can be really beneficial.”
Before shopping for your registry item, Steele recommends visiting EVReward.com, which is a master directory of every available shopping portal that outlines how many points or miles you’ll earn for purchases. You can search for specific retailers or browse for portals by category.
“Earmark a few registry items you might want to buy and see if it’s possible to maximize rewards, points or miles,” says Steele. “And make sure you’re looking to combine a price deal on top of earning rewards. It’s not worth spending more for a registry item just so you can earn rewards.”
Consider signing up for popular store cards
The good thing about wedding and baby showers is that we often get plenty of advanced notice that they’re coming up. So if you know you’ve got a handful of wedding or baby showers to attend over the next six months, see if they share common registry retailers and consider signing up for that store’s credit card.
“These events tend to be clustered together, so one summer you might have four weddings and a baby shower to attend. You can use this to your advantage,” says David Weliver, publisher of the personal finance advice blog MoneyUnder30.com.
For instance, both Amazon.com and Target are popular options for both wedding and baby registries—and they also happen to offer two of the best retail credit cards out there.
For Amazon Prime members, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature is a no-fee credit card that gives you an unlimited 5 percent credit on all Amazon.com purchases.
“Even if the couple or parents-to-be haven’t registered at Amazon, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find most common registry items there,” says Weliver.
When it comes to brick-and-mortar store cards, the Target REDcard is an excellent option. This no-fee card gives you 5 percent off on all purchases (even sale and clearance items), free shipping and an extended return period. What’s more, you can add savings to your purchases by using Target’s Cartwheel app, which offers frequent discounts anywhere from 5 to 50 percent on items throughout the store. The 5 percent REDcard discount is taken off the total after Cartwheel discounts have been applied.
“We never encourage people to spend money just to get rewards, but if you know you’re going to be making a handful or purchases at a place like Target or Amazon, you should take advantage of their branded cards,” says Weliver.
One more thing: If you’re thinking about buying registry gifts from a single retailer you might be able to wield an existing card’s bonus-spending categories.
For instance, the Discover it offers 5 percent back on four rotating categories, including Amazon.com and Target, between October 1 and December 31. You get the 5 percent deal only on your first $1,500 in spending (after that it drops to 1 percent), but you can also find discounts of 5 to 20 percent on online and in-store purchases through Discover Deals and other portals.
“Look at your upcoming registries and instead of buying everything piecemeal, do it all at once from the same retailer,” says Weliver.
Don’t disregard gift cards
Some may consider them uncreative, but gift cards can be a real boon for future parents and soon-to-be-married couples. They’re also a great option for rewards-savvy shoppers.
For instance, you can purchase various gift cards at retailers like Home Depot, Staples, or Office Max and get 5 percent back if you use your Chase Ink Cash card (which reward 5 percent back at office-supply stores). Or buy a gift card for the store they’ve registered at at a grocery store and get bonus points with the Blue Cash cards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner), which give elevated cash back at U.S. supermarkets.
“It doesn’t matter if this option feels less than super creative because you’re maximizing your rewards potential and still giving a gift that will be appreciated,” says Steele.
If you really don’t want a gift card to be your contribution to the shower, you can always employ this strategy to buy a gift card and then use it to purchase something at a store where the couple or future parents are registered.
“There’s almost always a way to use a rewards strategy to save or earn money,” says Weliver. “And wedding or baby showers are no different.”