It’s hard to believe that the holidays are around the corner. During this busy season, gift giving costs add up, of course, but our ancillary expenses have become even more significant over the past few years, ranging from entertaining family to traveling during peak season when school is out.
It turns out that 34% of Americans are planning to use rewards points during this holiday season, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, and there’s a number of ways to do this. In addition to buying gifts (think #PointsforPresents), rewards points can decorate your home, offset holiday travel, allow you to splurge on big ticket items, and so much more. Here are five ways Membership Rewards® points from American Express can help ease holiday spending—strategies that I’m sure we’ll be implementing ourselves over the next few months.
1. Find an Amazing Holiday Party Outfit
I love that using Membership Rewards can make you look like you spent big money without actually spending it. Confession: I gauge whether or not I purchase clothes now based on how wrinkled it may or may not get in my suitcase. A Herve Leger bandage dress fits the profile—pack it, hang it, wear it—and I found it at Membership Rewards partner store Saks Fifth Avenue. This means that I can buy it using points only or pay partially with points through Membership Rewards. It’s an expensive splurge and not at a price tag I’d use cash for, but I’m thrilled that I can swing it with less of a financial impact.
But if there’s an outfit at the mall you’re dying to have, redeem Membership Rewards points for an Amex or department store gift card to use in person.
Skipping the parties? Use Membership Rewards points to buy a pair of UGGs to keep you warm and comfortable as you write holiday cards with a hot toddy at home. A huge range of clothes and accessories is also available. Other partners include Nordstrom, Hugo Boss, Bloomingdales and more!
2. Gear Up for Holiday Entertaining
Baking cookies or hosting a holiday dinner? My KitchenAid mixer is sent into overdrive during the holidays, but I usually need to pick up a roasting pan or something similar, depending on what our menu entails.
I spend a lot of time shopping Crate and Barrel during the holiday season because I love the contemporary design of their holiday décor and can usually find random kitchenware I need as well as large-scale entertaining gear like white buffet plates, vases and various glassware that gets used every time we have a party.
And, guess what? It’s possible to mitigate at-home entertaining expenses since Crate and Barrel is a Membership Rewards partner.
3. Buy Gifts for Friends and Family
While it’s easy for me to identify helpful family travel gear and the like, I sometimes find gift buying incredibly challenging. When all else fails, we go with gift cards and there are plenty to be had with Membership Rewards ranging from Starbucks to Bergdorf Goodman to American Express gift cards, that can be used for almost anything.
If you need a last-minute gift, some gift cards can be delivered straight to the recipient’s inbox which can be a total lifesaver for me when the unexpected gift wasn’t anticipated. I love this.
Redeeming points makes it easier to splurge on the kids. From new Xboxes to impressive outdoor playsets, gifts big and small will generate big smiles without big expenses. I bet you could tick off their entire wish list by using points or partial points—there’s so much to choose from.
(Tip: I also just learned that it’s possible to hook one’s Membership Rewards Credit Card to Amazon.com to pay for items in full or in part, letting your American Express Credit Card cover the rest. You didn’t know either? Well, check it out here.)
Need more inspiration? Check out #PointsforPresents to learn about gifts other people are buying and eyeing.
4. Book Holiday Travel
Well, most people know that earned points can be used for vacations, but I’d be remiss to leave travel out of this post. The reason is because I didn’t think to use points for our Christmas trip to New York City and those airline tickets were pretty pricey.
Peak travel doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, so I’m reminding you to use earned Membership Rewards to offset trip costs by purchasing airline tickets and hotel rooms in full or in part, with Membership Rewards via American Express Travel.
5. Make Someone Else’s Dreams Come True
After a big redemption, there might be a few left0ver rewards points that you won’t touch for a while. Those of us who feel compelled to give to charity during the holiday season may want to consider donating rewards points to a non-profit registered with Members Give.
Every 1,000 points redeemed through Members Give means $10 will be donated to the designated non-profit, up to 500,000 points in a calendar year. After 500,000 points, $5 will be donated to the designated non-profit for every 1000 points redeemed. This is something that can be done throughout the year.
Pay Attention to Bonus Offers
I’m a big fan of bonus offers! Amex cards that are enrolled in the Membership Rewards program have a range of offers with your favorite brands and retailers such as:
2X Membership Rewards Points – Starting November 4th, eligible Card Members could receive two times the Membership Rewards points at popular retailers, including Gap, Pottery Barn, PB Teen, Pottery Barn Kids, Williams-Sonoma and West Elm. Membership Rewards is the perfect way to stretch your holiday budget, and get some big ticket items or stocking stuffers!
Will you be redeeming rewards points for presents and holiday essentials this year? Why or why not?
I was selected by American Express to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such, I was paid for my services, but all items selected and opinions about the Membership Rewards are my own.