How to Use Credit Card Points to Cook a Free Holiday Dinner

As we sit around the table being thankful for friends, family, and full bellies, we often forget about the costs associated with the bountiful feast as our favorite aunt brings out the coffee and pie. Holiday and Black Friday shopping sprees typically rank high on the list that makes our wallets sweat, but what about feeding an entire dining room of relatives when the cost of groceries is soaring? Instead of adding your luscious meal to the total damage column, try using your credit card points or miles to help ease the hurt.

It Cost How Much?!

For me, points and miles are the ultimate way to travel. It’s a blissful, stress-free vacation that doesn’t cost a dime and allows you to recharge without thinking about coming home to more bills. But around the holidays, plane ticket and hotel prices skyrocket, which means more points for less value. For those staying put for the holidays or who are in charge of the feast, you can redeem miles or points for gift cards to enjoy a free meal or add a few kitchen essentials.

Here’s a little anecdote: I was standing in line at Whole Foods two weeks before Thanksgiving, and the woman in front of me (who had an adorably dressed toddler, I might add) spent over $400 on items just for Thanksgiving. I saw the turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce, rainbow carrots, piecrust, apples, and more slide right on through the barcode scanner to rack up a ridiculous rate.

You do have to take into account that Whole Foods prices are higher, but thinking of one meal costing as much as someone’s monthly grocery bill is pretty scary. (Also to note: this woman could have bought items that were specifically not for Thanksgiving, but from my stalker standpoint, it looked like ole Turkey Tom was going to get the special treatment.)

Gift Cards = Free Holiday Goodies

We all would love to stack up our miles for that dream Maldives vacation, but sometimes parting with rewards helps our overall holiday budget. Here are a few examples of gift cards you can get for points and miles.

  • Walmart

You prefer farmer’s market fare over Walmart’s fresh produce, but I can assure you there are hundreds of products you can buy there for the holiday season. Sprinkles, cupcake wrappers, frozen pie dough, cage-free eggs, butter, seasonings, cheese, chocolate chips, plastic wrap, crackers, walnuts, paper napkins, or a million other things can be bought at Walmart.

A perfect, organic, non-GMO, no by-products, ethically-raised, no sugar added, pet and loved every day turkey, but you can cut costs dramatically by using a gift card to purchase packaged products. And if you’re still concerned about the bottom line, Walmart offers a wide variety of less expensive produce as well as whole turkeys, whole chickens, turkey breasts, hams (including bone-in varieties), and giant four-pound tubs of lard (for the health-conscious J).

  • Target

If you live near a SuperTarget with a fresh grocery, you’ll be able to use a Target gift card to buy produce, meats, frozen items, and dry goods for your next holiday meal. Although the selection is more limited than Walmart, you can still get a ton of items for free using your gift card. You can also pick up fun table design items or pots and pans that you might need for the day of cooking.

  • Williams-Sonoma

For the selective chef, you can cash in your rewards for the upper crust of eatery items at Williams-Sonoma. From high-end whisks to roasting pans to popcorn, you can pick up all the essential cookware and many snazzy food items from this beloved store. And you don’t have to add to credit card debt or take from your savings because you have a gift card that’s just as fancy as Williams-Sonoma.

  • Bed, Bath & Beyond

From seasonings and chef’s knives to tablecloths and holiday decorations, you can find your beyond for free with your Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card. Like Williams-Sonoma, this store offers you the chance to get a meat thermometer or saucepan for free without upping your holiday budget. You can also get extra plates, placemats, or pitchers. No groceries per se, but if you’re hosting more people than usual and need to up your kitchen game, a gift card here is the way to do it.

No out-of-pocket cost

Although points and miles don’t typically transfer one-to-one, saving cash and spending miles/points sure feels better when you look at the positive balance in your checking account. Many gripe and complain about the cost of the top children’s toy or latest iPhone, but food still takes up a significant amount of holiday green. Gift cards may not be exactly “free,” but there’s no out-of-pocket expense to use a gift card…just have to let some of those miles or points go. Bye-bye miles, hello free holiday dinner!