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Overcome Bad Credit When Shopping for the Holidays

When you're dealing with bad credit or trying to rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy, home foreclosure, or other financial hard times, the holiday shopping season can be a less-than-joyful time of year. It can be hard to not have access to credit during the time of year when Americans are shopping more than ever.

How can people enjoy buying holiday gifts and soaking up the spirit of the season when "charge it" is not an option?

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that people with bad credit can still fully enjoy the holiday shopping season. For example:

Save Cash in Advance

If you have bad credit, going into further debt to buy holiday gifts is not a great option. So instead of putting holiday purchases on your credit cards, use gift cards or pay cash. Whether it's using a simple cash savings jar, or a dedicated savings account from your bank or from an online service like SmartyPig, there are many ways to save up for a specific financial goal.

Use Layaway

Many retailers are bringing back store layaway programs that let you pay in advance over time, without having to go into debt. Some of the stores that offer layaway programs (during the holidays and sometimes all year round) include Sears, Walmart and Kmart. When you use layaway, you can buy what you want without having to use a credit card – you just make a down payment (sometimes as little as $10, depending on the price of the item that you want) and then pay for the rest of the item's price in time for the holidays.

Get a Bad Credit Credit Card

If you have bad credit and have been declined for credit, you might want to get a "bad credit credit card" (also known as a secured credit card) that enables you to borrow a small, fixed amount of money and repay it each month. The holiday shopping season doesn't have to be all about shopping – it can also give you an opportunity to help rebuild your credit score by using a bad credit credit card to pay for purchases.

The holiday season can be fun, exhausting, stressful and emotionally complicated all at the same time, and these emotions are intensified when you're dealing with bad credit. Look for ways to save up and pay cash, use programs like store layaway, or rely on a secured credit card or "bad credit credit card" to make your holiday shopping happier.

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