Reward credit card points can become great holiday gifts

If the sound of sleigh bellsjingling puts you in fear for the health of your pocketbook, take heart. Pickingup holiday gifts for everyone on your list doesn't have to take a major biteout of your budget.  In fact, a bit of relief may come in the form ofthe reward credit cardyou already have in your wallet.   

Your credit card rewards or credit card airline miles may not be the most obvious item toput under the tree or tuck into a Christmas stocking, but they still can beconverted into great gifts. You can redeem points for giftcertificates or gift cards and use that extra cash to buy items for everyone onyour holiday gift list. Or you can transfer miles or present e-cards to yourloved ones.

Your points may get you further thanyou realize. If you redeem points at select retailers some credit cardcompanies will boost your perks. For example, Discover Card's cash-back program lets cardholders as much as double theircash-back bonus when they redeem their gift cards or gift certificates fromamong Discover's more than 100 brand name partners, including Macy's, AMCTheatres and the Gap.

It is also possible to swap pointsfor a particular present. Visa showcases a catalog devoted to holiday giftsthat are available for "purchase" with reward points. They carryeverything from children's toys to kitchenware. Citi also offers similarmerchandise.

The credit card airline miles you've earned can also simplify gift giving. These miles can be used to send friends a family a vacation of their dreams without coughing up expensive airfare.

"Travel is one of those gifts that almost all people love,and they continue to have a very high emotional and aspirational value," saysRandy Petersen, a credit cards rewards program expert. "All major flier programs in the world allow members to 'gift' their awards to anyone of their choosing."

So, instead of dipping into yoursavings or going into credit card debt this holiday season, why not redeem someof those credit card reward points you have been accumulating the rest of theyear?  The gift recipients are certain to thank you -- and so will yourpocketbook.  

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