When buying bridal and baby shower gifts, you can use your credit card rewards to rack up points and cut your costs. One tip: Put a group gift on your card to get all the points.
For many twenty and thirtysomethings, spring brings a flurry of invitations to bridal and baby showers. And with coed Jack and Jill showers gaining popularity, these events are no longer reserved for women.
The amount you spend on a shower gift typically varies depending on your budget, your relationship to the recipient and how much you’ve spent on related events.
For instance, if you’ve already bought an engagement gift and plan to get a wedding gift or if you’re shelling out money to be in the wedding party, then it’s perfectly acceptable to choose a less-expensive bridal shower gift.
But if you’re reading this, then you probably want to give the nicest gift you can while minimizing your out-of-pocket costs through credit card rewards or other means.
Here are five strategies to consider:
1. Buy discounted gift cards.
Say your co-worker registered at Williams-Sonoma. If you purchased a discounted retailer gift card from a reputable online marketplace, you could purchase the shower gift with that or just give the gift card and let the recipient shop.
“Instead of buying a gift card from Williams-Sonoma, I’ll see which of those secondary gift card marketplaces have one,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert at AndreaWoroch.com.
“I can save anywhere from about 5 to 25 percent. Buy it with your credit card, so you’re earning rewards.”
You may also be able to exchange credit card rewards for gift cards.
However, in either scenario, you may not be able to choose a gift card with a wedding or baby-themed design.
And if you’re redeeming credit card points or cash back for gift cards, keep in mind that some retailer gift cards will offer a better redemption value than others. For instance, your credit card might charge 2,500 points for a $25 gift card at one retailer, while another retailer card charges 2,900.
“One of my credit cards allows better point transfers to a Barnes & Noble gift card over a Target gift card,” says Ashley Eneriz, a mom of almost three, finance writer and blogger at MamaHustleRepeat.com.
“I went with the Barnes & Noble gift card, then just bought the books my mom’s friend had on her Target registry.”
Tip: Some registries let you purchase items from other retailers and mark that item as purchased so the recipient doesn’t get duplicates. If that’s not an option, you can always notify the recipient.
2. Order through a shopping portal.
If you’re buying shower gifts online, your credit card issuer may have a shopping portal that offers extra rewards, or you can shop through an airline shopping portal or a cash back portal such as Ebates.com or TopCashBack.com.
“That’s a super easy way to double down on your points,” Woroch says.
When Eneriz purchased shower gifts through BN.com, she first stopped at Ebates to earn a small percentage of cash back on her purchase. (As of April 2018, Ebates’ cash back rate for Barnes & Noble was 2 percent.)
Dawn Allcot, a mom and business owner in West Babylon, New York, combined several of these strategies when she purchased baby shower gifts for her niece through the now-defunct Toys R Us website.
“The bassinet was around $110, but I had a coupon for 20 percent off,” she says. “Then I bought sheets that were like $20 or so and, again, 20 percent off.
“I used my Chase Ultimate Rewards to get a $50 gift card, so my total purchase was reduced to $70. I then used my Chase rewards through the Chase portal for the $70 balance to earn double rewards back.”
Tip: Online shopping portals often have discount codes available to boost your savings, but if you enter a discount code you found elsewhere at checkout, it may disqualify you from earning cash back.
3. Time your purchase.
You typically have some advance notice before a bridal or baby shower, so time your gift purchase strategically.
For example, if you’ve just opened a new credit card and need to spend a certain amount within the first few months to earn the sign-up bonus, now’s the time to hit the registry!
Also look for ways to earn greater rewards with existing cards.
“Some credit cards will offer bonus categories, and they may change monthly or quarterly. Look at those recurring offers,” Woroch says. “Oftentimes you have to opt in to get those points.”
Maybe your credit card is offering department stores as a bonus category that month, or if you have an American Express or Chase card, check your online account for offers with specific retailers. You’ll typically need to opt in for these offers before your purchase, and you may be required to spend a minimum dollar amount to qualify.
If you’re going in on a group gift, which can be a good way to get nicer items without blowing your budget, Woroch suggests putting the present on your card to get all the rewards. “You can request everyone send you money through Venmo or PayPal or just give you cash to cover the purchase,” Woroch says.
Tip: Only put a group gift on your credit card if you trust the people going in on the present will pay you back.
4. Use a store card (but don’t get it for a one-time purchase).
If you already have a Target Redcard or a credit card with another retailer, you often can reap a greater discount by using a store credit card for a shower gift.
But don’t sign up just for a one-time discount.
“I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a store card or any other cards offered by a site where a bride might be registered,” Woroch says. “I would recommend you don’t do that unless you shop at that retailer often.”
Store cards aren’t as practical as more general use cards, and it’s easy to forget about a bill if you almost never use that card.
5. Bonus tip for gift recipients: Get a registry completion discount.
Some retailers offer newlyweds or new parents a discount for purchasing items left on their registry.
Stephanie “Stephonee” Kibler, founder of the blog Poorer Than You, used this strategy to place a massive order for additional baby items, including a changing table and high chair from Amazon.
“You don’t have to buy all the remaining items on your registry to get the discount, but it is only good on a single order, and only on items in the \u2018baby’ category that are shipped by Amazon,” Kibler explains.
The non-Prime completion discount for baby registries is 10 percent, but since someone gifted her an Amazon Prime subscription, she got the higher Prime discount of 15 percent.
Kibler estimates that the completion discount saved them $150, plus credit card rewards and 3 percent cash back from Ebates.
See related: How not to go broke as a wedding guest, How to stack rewards to save big on purchases