Updated: Thursday, 15 Nov 2012, 10:09 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 15 Nov 2012, 10:09 AM EST
(CNN) - A survey from retailers finds that more than half of Americans have already started their holiday shopping. A credit card can be a useful tool, as long as you don't let that balance get out of hand.
Responsible spending doesn't have to mean putting your credit cards on ice. If you have a card with rewards or points attached, between travel and gift spending, credit card expert Beverly Harzog says this is the time of year to make it work for you.
"You can even start using those rewards points to buy gifts so it really is a good idea to use your cards, as long as you don't overspend, and as long as you keep track of what you're spending," said Harzog.
That's the key, whether using credit or cash. Make a budget, and don't wait until after the new year to see if you stuck to it. Re-evaluate spending regularly.
And while you are in the store, beware of the allure of the retailer's credit card.
"The positive that they try to sell you on at the register is that you can get 10 or 15 percent off right away and, you know, that is very enticing, but it's still a good idea to read that credit card agreement first," Harzog said.
That agreement will clue you in on the card's interest rate, which can make a little holiday debt a lot bigger if not paid off right away. And that's something to keep in mind for any holiday purchase made on credit.
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