America's favorite shopping day is inching nearer, and I've already begun to arm myself with coupons, catalogs and credit cards.
Although you can't make Black Friday come any sooner (it seems like forever till I next get to spend a winter's night in a parking lot with a bunch of fellow Black Friday fans), you can do a few things to prepare for the big day.
Everyone has their own Black Friday routine, but there are a few things that most people will agree should not be a major part of the Black Friday experience:
Cash is one of the things you won't want to take out with you. At least not too much of it. I love greenbacks at least as much as the next guy, but fumbling through your wallet for the coinage you need in the middle of a stampede is inconvenient to say the least. There is the odd chance you will come across a wipeout cash-only deal, but 99% of the time a card is the way to pay on Black Friday.
Debit cards are another item you may want to leave at home. Besides the fact that you will be liable for up to $500 of fraudulent transactions made with your debit card if you don't report a loss within 2 business days, getting ahold of your debit card data also gives criminals direct access to your bank account. With thousands of people crowding around you as you dip your card into dozens of terminals, the chance that either your card or card data will be hijacked is pretty decent. Many good credit cards have $0 liability on fraudulent transactions, while the maximum liability on any credit card is limited to $50.
A credit card is the way to go for many reasons. These are some of my favorites:
To Get 0% Interest On PurchasesI hate paying interest even more than I hate being ripped off when I buy something; at least I have something to show for the rip-off. Interest is more like a highway robbery.
Paying your credit card bill in full may not always be an option for you, for example, if you prefer not to pull hundreds or thousands of bucks out of your interest-earning accounts to pay for your Black Friday shopping spree.
Don't go for store instalment programs or fall prey to a high credit card APR, because if you do, there would be no real Black Friday savings as the money you'd save with deals would go towards interest payments down the line.
Instead, there are currently a few special credit cards that help you get around this dilemma.
If you expect your Black Friday spending to take even longer than that to pay off, then this card may help:
To Earn Cash BackEarning cash back is almost like getting an additional discount on your shopping. Imagine saving an extra 5% on your Black Friday shopping!
There are lots good cash back cards, and which card would benefit you most depends a lot on where and how you shop. If you want to earn good cash back on all purchases no matter where you shop, then check out
To Enjoy $0 Liability For Fraudulent Transactions
Black Friday is all about the rush, but wild shopping parties have their risks. Forgetting your card at one of the 50 counters you pay at or worse yet, losing your card to thieves may sound like something that would never happen to you. But crowds, money changing hands and a lot of excited people can have a funny effect on a credit card.
You can play it safe by using a credit card that offers $0 liability for fraudulent transactions. Some cards only give you this limited liability once you report a lost or stolen card. Other cards never hold you liable for fraudulent transactions made with your card.
For Easy Accounting
Black Friday is a pretty crazy day, and by the time you crawl back home under the weight of 30 awesome deals, you may not have a clue where your money went.
Sure, you can plan to a point, but crazy deals days are full of surprises and you could end up finding steals on stuff that you didn't even remember you wanted until it hit you in the face.
A credit card provides an easy way to track exactly how much you spend on what item right on your credit card statement. I always go through mine and compare the price I paid with the going price after Black Friday, just to feel good about myself.
For Instant Discounts
Almost all credit cards give you some sort of discounts. Even if all you have is a generic Visa card, you can still get discounts at Visa partners.
Check out our pick of the best credit cards for Black Friday here: