If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving as Friendsgiving this year, these tips will help you stay on budget, share costs with your friends and score credit card rewards.
When you can’t get home for Thanksgiving with the family, enjoying Friendsgiving dinner can be the next best thing.
In 2019, half a million Americans were invited to a Friendsgiving event and in some cases, Friendsgiving takes the place of Thanksgiving as people form familial connections with roommates, friends, co-workers and significant others.
Even with the rising popularity of Friendsgiving and its potluck-style structure, it can still weigh heavy on the wallet. However, keep in mind that you can reap rewards on credit card purchases when planning your spending.
Tips for planning a Friendsgiving with your rewards credit card
Use grocery store credit cards
If you’re hosting Friendsgiving, you could end up spending quite a bit. If that makes you uneasy, why not opt for a potluck situation where everybody brings a dish to share? If that’s the way you go, you can set up a Google Sheet for everyone to input the dish they plan to bring or use PerfectPotluck.com or Evite to coordinate.
Grocery store credit cards give you cash back or points for your supermarket purchases, and since you’ll most likely end up at the store anyway to buy ingredients and supplies, you might as well earn rewards while you shop.
Caleb Reed, founder of TheDollarBudget, said he uses a credit card that earns cash back at grocery stores every year.
“The card I primarily use is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. I receive 6% cash back at supermarkets, each year on up to $6,000 in spending,” Reed explained.
“Last year, I was able to earn more than $19 in cash back from my purchases for Friendsgiving. I plan to use the Blue Cash Preferred credit card to buy gifts, supplies and groceries for Friendsgiving for years to come.”
Also remember that your shopping list may include alcohol, disposable plates, cups, serving ware, decorations and any post-feast entertainment activities. These added expenses could further boost your cash back rewards.
If you’re hosting a larger Friendsgiving gathering, consider shopping at wholesale clubs instead, said Jill Caponera, consumer finance expert at PromoCodes.
“Costco is a great option to buy food, snacks or alcohol in bulk and to get the best savings,” Caponera said. “The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi gives you the most for your membership, offering 2% cash back on Costco purchases, making sticking to your Friendsgiving budget that much easier.”
Other great cash back and grocery credit cards to use for Friendsgiving include:
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Earn unlimited 3% cash back on grocery stores, dining, entertainment and select streaming services, 8% back on tickets through VividSeats through January 2023 and 1% back on everything else
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: Earn 5% cash back on grocery stores purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs) and 5% on rotating cash back categories. From October through December 2021, Chase Freedom cash back categories include Walmart and PayPal.
Use airline and travel credit cards
Friendsgiving is also a chance to score welcome bonuses or regular rewards points on your airline or travel credit card. If you and your friends plan something on the more extravagant side – or you start your gift shopping early – you can log extra points and miles for travel.
“I once hosted a Friendsgiving and used my airline rewards credit card for all of my purchases, including food, necessities and decorations,” said Jake Hill, DebtHammer CEO.
“I knew I was going to be traveling for Christmas that year and was just shy of having enough miles to fly completely free, so I used Friendsgiving as an opportunity to get more miles.”
This strategy is especially lucrative if you and your friends designate one person to purchase all the supplies and agree to split the bill later. Here are some travel cards that earn points and miles at grocery stores:
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: This card earns 2X miles at grocery stores and grocery delivery.
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 3X points at restaurants and grocery stores, plus 3X points at gas stations, air travel and hotels. If you plan to travel and shop for groceries for Friendsgiving, this card will net you serious Citi ThankYou points.
Use coupon, cash back apps for more rewards
Pairing rewards card purchases with coupon apps can add to your Friendsgiving savings. Sites like Promocodes, Coupons.com, RetailMeNot and CouponSherpa feature discount codes you can apply to your online cart or use in-store.
Caponera said Promocodes can yield savings on party supplies, party favors and decorative items from top brands.
Groupon and LivingSocial are also good for finding daily deals on wine and food. Just be sure to take note of whether deals apply to individual items or bulk purchases so you don’t over or underbuy.
You can stack up additional cash rewards when shopping through cash back sites. Just browse retailer cash back offers, click the one you want and make a purchase. You don’t need a rewards card to take advantage of these sites, but they’re easy ways to multiply cash back earnings with your card.
Some of the most popular cash back sites include:
Also, be sure to enroll in your grocery store’s rewards program if you haven’t done that already. This allows you to take advantage of card-linked savings, as well as loyalty savings discounts at the register when you check out.
Split the cost with Venmo, Zelle or Paypal
If you’re hosting Friendsgiving, volunteer to pick up groceries and supplies for everyone, then use a person-to-person payment app like Venmo, Zelle or PayPal to request money back for their portion. The money people send you can pay for the credit card bill. You’ll boost the amount of cash back or rewards without spending more than your fair share.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends is growing in popularity. And whether you show up at a friend’s place with your grandmother’s pie recipe or step up as the host with the most, you can use your rewards, grocery, cash back or travel credit cards to earn while you plan.
Just be sure to use your credit cards responsibly and don’t spend more than you can afford. Remember that this holiday is about spending time with loved ones, not going overboard on spending.