Stores up the ante for holiday savings

While consumers are looking to save money on their gift-giving this winter, credit card companies are continuing to offer gifts of their own in order to inspire usage this holiday season.

Fearing a consumer backlash against credit, issuers are upping earlier offers with additional points, bigger discounts, extra cash and even free gift cards.

“Some card issuers are seeing this as an opportunity to change the game and engage their customers further,” Kelly Hlavinka, a managing partner at Colloquy, told Dow Jones.

Toys ‘R’ Us, hoping to win the price-war battle with WalMart and Target is tripling its rewards dollars to 10 percent on purchases made in stores and online, the news source says. Others like Citigroup are entering consumers into holiday sweepstakes, which could yield consumers prizes valued from $10 to $10,000.

Discover offers a similar program that allows users to redeem rewards points on big-ticket items, such as college football’s Orange Bowl, according to Dow Jones.

Despite this, many rewards have deadlines and restrictions on usage, and consumers should be advised to vet options thoroughly in order to avoid unwanted payments next year.