‘Tis the season for more shopping. Each holiday people spend hundreds of dollars purchasing gifts for their loved ones. In the midst of the holiday rush, consumers often fail to stay abreast of their personal finances and fall prey to extensive use of credit cards. According to Dun & Bradstreet, people spent 12-18 percent more on gifts, when they paid with their credit cards instead of cash.

Although there isn’t much that can be done about the hustle and bustle that the season brings, the following tips will assist in ensuring that you use your credit wisely, and do not come out in excessive debt.

Shop smart. Create a holiday budget and set an amount for each gift that you intend to buy. This will help you to steer clear of overspending.

Earn rewards. Use your debit card for holiday purchases. Many banks allow consumers to earn reward points for purchases. You may be able to use those points for gift or two.

Monitor your credit. Credit-card fraud increases during the holiday season, so pull a copy of your report for free to ensure that no one has stolen your identity and used your credit unlawfully.

Avoid online scams. Fraudsters will contact you via e-mail to obtain your information for credit-fraud purposes. Do not share confidential information and ensure that you password-protect all banking information.

Use credit cards for large-item purchases. Buy large-ticket items such as furniture or electronics with credit cards. Have a plan to pay off the purchases within 30 days.

It is essential to remain thoughtful of your credit and personal finances during the holiday season. Understand your credit needs and solutions so that you make the best credit decisions for your financial future. For more tips on how to use your credit wisely, visit www.wellsfargo.com/smarter_credit.

Michelle Thornhill is senior vice president and African American segment manager for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, N.C. As a public service, Wells Fargo provides free and fun financial education programs without commercial content.