It looks like you're using an outdated browser.
For a better experience, we recommend switching to a more modern browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Learn more.
Online Banking Login

News & Tips

Holiday Shopping with Credit Cards Do’s and Don’ts

The holiday season often brings with it a cup of cheer and a shopping cart full of gifts for the ones you love. With many deals only available for a limited time and items often running out of stock, credit cards make holiday shopping fast, easy, and convenient both online and in stores. Plus, the best part about credit cards that debit cards don’t offer? Earning points for rewards! However, it’s also easy to get swept away in the whirlwind of spending, which can lead to debt once the festivities are over. Here are our top do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while holiday shopping with credit cards. 

Credit Card Holiday Shopping Do’s:


1) Take advantage of Visa® Signature rewards

With a Visa® Signature card, you can earn points with every purchase! You'll earn 3 points for grocery store purchases, 2 points for restaurant purchases, and 1 point on everything else! Learn more about the rewards and benefits of having this card in this article. Don’t have a Visa® Signature card? Not a problem, you can apply today at SCCU

2) Set a budget

Between picking up the food, decorations, and gifts, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overspending while getting into the holiday spirit. (No judgment here.) The best remedy to prevent this is to set a budget for yourself beforehand. It’s a good idea to break down your budget in detail as much as possible, such as categories and maximum spend amounts. Setting up a budget also often helps with avoiding impulse buys. Members can even set up spending limits in the SCCU Card Control companion app, which you can download from your SCCU Mobile app.

3) Check your card charges regularly

Fraud is often more prevalent during the holiday season than other times of the year. One of the best ways to catch it is as soon as possible is by checking credit card transactions frequently. In the SCCU Card Control companion app, members can track their credit card charges, turn credit and debit cards on or off to prevent further transactions, and even manage permissions for groceries, restaurants, gas stations, and more.

Plus, checking transactions regularly is a good way to see if a store double charged you. The nice thing about credit cards is that cardholders can often get refunds sooner than with debit cards. Credit cards also offer more dynamic security protection. If you see anything suspicious, be sure to report it to your financial institution immediately. At SCCU, you can report fraudulent activity by visiting any of our branches, sending a Secure Message via Online Banking, or calling us at 800-447-7228, option 1. 

SCCU also offers 2Way Text Fraud Alerts, a service that notifies members when we think there’s been fraudulent activity on your account. Learn more about how to fight fraud with SCCU here

4) Pay more than the minimum payment when possible

Paying the minimum payment every month prevents you from dealing with late payments and helps you keep in good credit standing. However, paying more than the minimum payment ensures that you’re not actually paying $100 for a $50 item because of interest, and you save money overall. You may also want to consider transferring balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest (or 0% APR) credit cards to help consolidate payments and pay off debts. Check with the credit card provider beforehand about balance transfer fees. It never hurts to request a lower interest rate from your card provider, especially if you’ve been a longstanding good customer. 

5) Save less on shipping by putting more towards gift cards

Sometimes the gift you want to buy isn’t available in a brick-and-mortar store, but you don’t want to deal with shipping costs. However, many retailers online will waive shipping costs as long as you spend a minimum amount. Are the items in your cart not totaling up to that amount? Add a gift card to it! This little trick allows you to still earn rewards on your credit card and save money on shipping. Plus, you’ll have the gift card available to get future items later. Better yet, give the gift card to someone that’s hard to buy for. That’s one item you can cross off your shopping list!

Credit Card Holiday Shopping Don’ts:


1) Don’t apply for too many credit cards

When you’ve finally made it to check-out, it can be tempting to say “yes” to a store credit card with all of its attractive discounts and offers. But these often come with a catch, such as disappointing rewards programs and high interest rates, sometimes over 25%! The cost of the high interest rate often exceeds the cost of the items you bought. 

Before you make such a financial decision to apply for a card, be sure to “sleep” on it and consider how often you shop at the store. If you shop there regularly, do a little research beforehand, weigh all the pros and cons first, read the fine print, and read some reviews from other store cardholders. 

2) Don’t buy items online with your card while using public Wi-Fi

With so many people shopping online during the holidays, criminals will take any measure necessary to swipe sensitive information from shoppers. Whether you’re in a café, shop, or airport, it’s a good idea to think twice before making online purchases while on a public Wi-Fi network. Since public Wi-Fi connections are often unsecure, a hacker can find a way to “get in the middle” of you and the connection point. What can you do instead? If you must use public Wi-Fi, make sure your accounts have two-factor verification. It’s also a good idea to have a VPN on your devices too. Better yet, stick with using cellular data or a mobile hotspot for a more secure connection.  

3) Don’t max out your credit cards

Unfortunately, reaching the credit card limit often leads to credit scores dropping. This is a result of using too much of the total credit available on your account(s), which is the second most important factor in determining your FICO credit score. It’s best not to exceed 30% of your total available credit limit to keep your balances low. It’s also possible to set up your account to send you alerts if you’re close to your spending limit. It’s a good idea to just use one credit card for all of your holiday purchases to track transactions more easily. 

4) Don’t settle for high interest rates

Credit cards often come with high interest rates with the average being over 20%. This comes at a high price if your card falls into that category, and you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your holiday bill in full. So, it’s a good idea to explore other credit card options for your gift-giving needs. Plus, other cards may come with better rewards programs. At Space Coast Credit Union, we offer a credit card with 0% APR for the first six billing cycles45. Even after the introductory period, we offer low variable rates (depending on the card you choose and your creditworthiness). Compare all SCCU credit cards and view their rates.

5) Don’t forget to check your annual credit reports

The three credit agencies that collect information about payment behaviors are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Be sure to check your credit reports with these agencies for free once a year on As these reports determine your credit score, it’s a good idea to review the reports to check for any errors and prevent identity theft. If you see something odd or out of place, reach out to the respective agency right away to correct any mistakes. Cardholders can even request that the agency freeze your credit so that nobody can use your personal information to open an account. At SCCU, members can see their FICO credit score for free.

SCCU Makes Holiday Shopping Rewarding

Before you know it, the festivities are over. By keeping track of what you purchased and sticking within a budget, you’re less likely to start your new year off with holiday debt. Best of all, you can redeem the points you earned from your credit card purchases. With our Visa® Signature card, members earn points on every purchase — and enjoy no annual fees, competitive variable rates, Visa® Zero Liability Protection14, and more. Questions? Feel free to get in touch with us and a Team Member will be happy to help you go over credit card qualifications and benefits.

Was this helpful?
How to Choose the Best Student Checking Account for Teens
June 2, 2023 by Members' Watchdog
We break down how to find the best student checking account for teens in just five steps. See them here!
Money Market Accounts: Everything You Need to Know
March 10, 2023 by Members' Watchdog
Money market accounts offer a plethora of savings benefits. Explore them all here.
How CD Laddering Works and Benefits of this Savings Strategy
February 13, 2023 by Space Coast Credit Union
Laddering CDs involves opening multiple CDs with staggered maturities. Let’s break down CD ladders so you can divide and conquer! 
Debit Card vs. Credit Card: Which One is Better?
February 3, 2023 by Space Coast Credit Union
We’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of debit cards vs. credit cards. Plus, we’ll answer when’s the best time to use each card.
How to Make a Budget
December 28, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
In this article, we’ll break down how to make a budget for beginners and how to stick to a budget once you’ve created one.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs): What You Need to Know
December 19, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Certificates of deposit (CDs) are a special type of savings account with a guaranteed rate of return over a certain timeframe so you can give your savings a raise even while you sleep!
10 Tips to Improve Your Financial Wellness
December 9, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
We’re sharing our top financial tips, with words of wisdom from SCCU Team Members, to help you improve your overall financial wellness.
Building Credit with a Secured Credit Card
November 25, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
When you’re seeking a Visa card and all its conveniences—but facing a roadblock with a lack of credit history—a secured credit card can help.
Benefits of a Visa Signature® Credit Card at SCCU
October 19, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Visa Signature offers a rewards program, travel perks, low variable rates, security features, and more. We’ll give you the 360-degree view of why this card is worth having in your pocket.
The Ultimate Guide on High-Yield Savings Accounts & Saving Money
October 4, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
By regularly depositing your hard-earned money into a high-yield savings account, you could be on a faster path to achieving your dreams.
Florida Credit Unions: Why Choose Space Coast Credit Union (SCCU)?
September 23, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
We offer a full financial suite of products and services. Let’s dive into all of them!
How to Consolidate Debt
September 16, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Perhaps unexpected expenses are piling up, and you’re scrambling to figure out how to pay them all. We’ll cover how to consolidate debt in this article, which could be a light at the end of the tunnel for you. 
Why Visa Platinum is the Best Cash Back Credit Card
September 9, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Who doesn’t love earning money while spending money? Space Coast Credit Union’s (SCCU)’s Visa® Platinum—the star of the best cash back credit cards—gives you the power to do just that.
How a Good Credit Score Can Impact Purchasing Power
August 26, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
You’re probably well aware of what a credit score is, but what exactly determines your overall credit, and how does it benefit you?
Money Market vs. CD: Which is Better?
August 19, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Both CDs and money market accounts offer low-risk ways to earn more interest on your savings. Find out which one's for you here.
Comparing the Differences: Visa Platinum vs. Visa Signature
July 21, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
With everything from rates to perks, you may find yourself on the fence as you're making your decision between Visa® Platinum or Visa Signature®. This article provides a comparison between the two to help you decide.
What is the Difference Between an IRA and a 401(k)?
June 29, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Not sure if it's better to get an IRA or a 401(k)? Learn more about their differences here and how they can help you save for retirement.
How to Switch to a Free Checking Account in 5 Steps
June 22, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
From depositing checks to paying bills, your checking account should work FOR you and not against you with unnecessary extra monthly fees. See why it's worth switching to a Free Checking account at SCCU.
Unleash the Hidden Benefits of Digital Wallet
February 23, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
You’re walking along the beach and begin to feel thirsty. Your heart sinks once you realize your wallet is over a mile away. But then you realize that you have your phone with you, which means you can still access all of your cards through your digital wallet app! Learn more about all of its benefits here.
Which Credit Card Benefits are Better: Cash Back or Points?
February 15, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Credit cards offer several benefits from covering emergencies to earning rewards. But with so many card options available (and vying for your attention) with cash back or points, it can be overwhelming to choose a rewards program that’s best for you. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each type to help you score rewards in no time! 
A Beginner’s Guide to Free Checking (What It Is & Why You Need It)
January 28, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
Checking accounts are like a Grand Central Station for your money—flowing in and out with deposits and withdrawals. Many banks and credit unions offer free checking accounts, but what exactly is a free checking account and why should you get one?
The Beginner's Guide to a Good Credit Score (& How to Get One)
January 7, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union
What is a good credit score, and how can you make sure you have one?
Visa® Platinum Benefits: A Guide to Receiving Credit Card Rewards
December 21, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Today, strategically selecting whether or not to use a credit card and which one to use can be part of savvy financial management. We're taking a look at why the Visa® Platinum credit card at SCCU may be the one for you.
10 Creative Ways to Save Money
December 10, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Saving money can be challenging. But after the holiday season, it’s often a top New Year’s resolution. From joining special savings accounts to making some daily item switches, we’ve rounded up 10 ways that could save you thousands of dollars a year! 
Holiday Shopping with Credit Cards Do’s and Don’ts
November 12, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Here are our top do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while holiday shopping with credit cards. 
What are Secured Credit Cards?
September 28, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Maybe you’ve run into the following paradox: How do I get a credit card with less-than-perfect credit (or no credit) if I need a credit card to build my credit? You’re in luck because secured credit cards break this cycle!
7 Savvy Skills Teens Gain from a Student Checking Account
September 21, 2021 by Carmen Tapanes
While teens can watch hundreds of videos on the Internet about finances, experience is often the best teacher when it comes to managing money. But it can feel overwhelming for them to know where to start learning the fiscal ropes. Opening a checking account gives them a learner’s permit to handling financial matters with the peace of mind of having an adult as the co-owner. 
How to Choose the Best Free Checking Account
September 14, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
When searching for the right checking account, most people would prefer one that’s “free” — and rightly so. But it can be hard to know what exactly “free” means today when we know that fees and terms are often the name of the game. The reality is that financial institutions will define "free" in different ways.
Choosing the Best Credit Card to Fit Your Needs (+ Where to Get It)
July 23, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Credit cards can be an excellent tool for building credit when you’re financing purchases both big and small. Most credit cards today deliver some form of benefit with membership—accumulating points, cash back, airline miles, or other deals, consumers have a wealth of choices.
Financial Peace: Pay Your Dues & Your Debts + Restore Hope in 5 Simple Steps
February 3, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
Discover how to obtain financial peace in 5 simple steps. Learn how to pay off your debts the right way and educate yourself on how to live financially free.
The Definitive Guide to Achieving Financial Freedom
January 29, 2021 by Space Coast Credit Union
This guide offers steps that you can put into practice immediately as you work towards financial freedom.
4 Perfect Times to Consider a Personal Loan
February 16, 2017 by Space Coast Credit Union
Virtually everything costs money, and it’s often more than you’d expect it to be.
Common Mistakes During Open Enrollment
November 3, 2016 by Space Coast Credit Union
Be sure to watch out for these three common pitfalls when enrolling in workplace benefits.
10 Easy Ways to Save Money in College
January 15, 2015 by Space Coast Credit Union
College comes with many costs, but don't let those costs bring down what should be some of your most exciting years.