Five Frequently Asked Questions About Holiday Credit Cards

December 11, 2012, Written By John H. Oldshue

I need a new credit card for the holidays. Is it too late for me to apply?

It depends on the situation.  If you’re immediately approved, then you can get the card in as little as three business days. However, if the application does not get approved automatically and needs to be reviewed, then it can take two to three weeks for the review process.

Will I spend more this holiday season by using my credit card?

That all depends on your spending habits and your financial discipline. Some people tend to charge more on a credit card than if they were paying cash because they don’t “see” the money physically being spent. Others are more frugal with credit cards because they check their spending progress online as they go.

The second part to the question comes in interest charges: will you pay your card off in full in January or will you pay less than the full balance? Interest charges can add up quickly, so you could spend more in interest charges by using your credit card and not paying it off in full.

I need a balance transfer card and a holiday shopping card.  What should I look for?

You’re going to want to look for a card with a 0 percent introductory offer. The longer the time period of this intro period, the better. You want a card with an introductory offer that applies to both balance transfers and purchases. This means you can transfer your high interest credit card debt onto this new card, and, at the same time, use the intro rate for holiday shopping to avoid interest charges. But be careful–you shouldn’t use this as a way to take on more debt than you can handle just because the card currently has a 0 percent APR.

I pay off my credit card in full each and every month, what should I look for in a card?

If you pay off your card each month, then the interest rate isn’t very important to you. Rather, you will want a card with a great rewards program and no annual fee. With this type of card, you can actually make money using your credit card.

I have bad credit.  Can I still get a new card for the holidays?

Yes. Don’t apply for a card designed for people with good or excellent credit, since you will most likely be turned down and could further hurt your credit score. Instead, apply for a card designed for someone with poor or bad credit, even though the interest rate will be higher. You can then pay off the balance in full to avoid the interest charges and build up your credit profile. Make sure the card reports to a credit reporting agency. In this way, your good habits will begin to build your credit score.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 11, 2012. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.