Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday to express gratitude and gather with family members around a table overflowing with food. But this same holiday is gaining popularity. Friendsgiving can be held on any day close to Thanksgiving, and its purpose is to gather, dine, and appreciate life’s abundance with the non-relatives in your life.
Younger adults, especially, tend to participate in Friends Giving. According to a 2022 YPulse survey, 39 percent of Millennials and 36 percent of Gen Zers say they will attend or host a Friendsgiving celebration this year.
Like Thanksgiving, there are costs associated with Friendsgiving — and they may be higher than usual this year. Inflation has pushed the prices of food, gas and travel to uncomfortable heights. The good news is that you can save money and enjoy this Thanksgiving feast with credit cards.
Reduce costs with conscious shopping
A gift from friends can be a casual affair with paper plates and a potluck buffet or a formal dinner with fine china and a multi-course meal served by hired waiters. Whichever way you do it, if you’re the host, you’re likely to be taking on more costs.
You can keep the friend version of Thanksgiving expenses as low as possible and avoid an overwhelming credit card balance with a little preplanning. With interest rates on the rise, you don’t want to go through the rest of your vacation and 2023 with additional financial obligations.
Start by knowing how much you are comfortable spending. The figure should not affect your ability to pay essential bills and should not be more than what you charge and not reimbursed in full. So if it’s $300, that’s your limit.
Develop a list of the things you need to buy and fit them within the amount you set. Shop early so you have time to find the lowest price.
Then use a credit card that allows you to earn the maximum amount of points on the things you need. You may be hitting the grocery store a little harder than usual, so check your cards and use one that allows you to earn more rewards at supermarkets, like American Express’s Blue Cash Preferred ® Card, which offers 6 percent cash back. Back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent). Pay the bill when it arrives so no interest is added and you benefit from the rewards earned.
Pay off friend gift expenses with credit card rewards
If you have a cash back credit card, check your cash credit balance. You might be surprised how much is available to you. Now it’s time to use the funds for a friend’s offer! Depending on how much you have, funds can make a big dent in your spending, from stocking up on matching wine glasses to buying a turkey and some pie.
In addition to using the money as a statement credit after you make the charges, some credit card issuers let you transfer money electronically to your linked bank account.
You can earn quick cash for your Friendsgiving purchases. With many cards, you can get a generous sign-up bonus after meeting the minimum spend. For example, with the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, you get $200 back after spending $1,500 in the first six months of account opening.
But if you don’t want to spend that much or can’t wait until you do, you might want to consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card*. You can get a $150 Amazon Gift Card with no minimum spend as soon as you’re approved. It also offers 5 percent cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods, so if you need something extra, you can claim more rewards faster.
Go to a friend (or have them come to you) for less.
If your friends don’t live nearby and driving isn’t an option, you might be flying to meet up. This is where a good travel credit card can come in handy. If you have one, check to see how many points or miles you’ve accumulated. You may have enough to cover the cost of the flight. If so, book early. Since Friendsgiving is usually celebrated in the month of November, expect the price to be higher as last minute fares can be very expensive.
Even if you don’t have enough rewards to pay for the full fee, you can reduce the minimum spend with the points or miles you have. When you buy a ticket through a credit issuer’s travel portal like Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can buy the remaining points or miles to pay for the difference.
You can also use your travel card rewards to buy airline tickets for others. Many people are struggling financially, so if a friend doesn’t have enough money to see you to your friend’s giveaway celebration, you can buy them a ticket with your points or miles. Prizes need not be transferred to that person; Book the ticket with their personal information.
Spend the night free at the hotel
If you have a card co-branded with a hotel chain, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, you’re eligible for a free night award each year after your account anniversary. Have you used it yet? Now is the perfect time to do so, because you may not want to sleep on your old college roommate’s couch, but he or she is welcome.
Most hotel cards allow you to earn eligible rewards for extra night stays by charging throughout the year, so you may have more loyalty points to trade in than you think. For example, if you charge $15,000 with The World of Hyatt Credit Card* in 2022, you’re now eligible for a free night’s stay.
Maximizing credit card rewards like this can free up money you’d like to spend on other Friendsgiving expenses. So you can save $200 or more per night, and you won’t wake up cramped trying to sleep on a tiny sofa.
Be thankful for whatever you spend
Friendsgiving is a wonderful opportunity to spend an evening with people you care about but aren’t necessarily related to. These are your friends. You don’t need to impress them with things you can’t afford. Happiness is their company when you laugh, talk, eat and drink. Be grateful for every light-hearted moment. After all, you might want to be a little more careful with conversation when you’re sitting around that Thanksgiving table with relatives you may soon be with.
*All information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and The World of Hyatt Credit Card is independently compiled by Bankrate.com and has not been verified or endorsed by the issuer.