Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available or the benefits and terms have changed. View the issuer’s site for current information.
The holidays are a time when we tend to spend more money than usual between gifts, travel and parties. Putting these purchases on a credit card — as long as they are paid off in full — can help you to make the most of this extra spending, as every swipe can help you earn rewards, cash back and other perks. However, some credit cards are better than others when it comes to cashing in on your holiday shopping.
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GOBankingRates spoke to credit card insiders to find the best credit cards for all of your holiday expenses. Use these cards to make the most of the costly season.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
“If you’re an Amazon Prime member, use the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card for your holiday shopping,” said Nathan Grant, senior credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider. “You not only get 5% back on all Amazon purchases, but you have the potential to earn cash back on other purchases too. Also, when approved, you receive a generous $75 Amazon gift card.”
Chase Freedom Unlimited
“My pick would be the Chase Freedom Unlimited card,” said Carter Seuthe, VP of content at Credit Summit. “If you spend over $500 in the first three months, you get $250 cash back, which is a great deal — and it is easy to spend that much money during the holidays. You also get 1.5% back on every purchase, and there is no annual fee. There are pretty high foreign transaction fees, but unless you are traveling internationally during the holidays, that shouldn’t be much of an issue.” Note: The current sign up bonus on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is up to $300 as you’ll earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases in the first year (up to $20,000 spent)
Chase Sapphire Preferred
“In my opinion, the best card for holiday shopping is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card,” said Jake Hill, CEO of the personal finance site DebtHammer. “It had one of the best sign-up bonuses — if you spent $4,000 in the first three months, you automatically get 100,000 points, which is equivalent to $1,250. Spending is high during the holiday season because of gifts and traveling, so it is not too hard to reach the reward. It does have a pretty high annual fee of $95, unfortunately, but that’s the only major downside.” The current bonus offer on the Sapphire Preferred card is 80,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first 3 months.
Citi Double Cash Card
With the Citi Double Cash Card, you earn 2% cash back on purchases — 1% when you buy and 1% as you pay. Plus, the card has no annual fee.
“The Citi Double Cash Card is wonderful for earning cash back on general shopping,” said Caleb Reed, founder of the personal finance blog TheDollarBudget.
Discover it Cash Back Credit Card
This no annual fee cash-back credit card allows you to earn 5% cash back on certain purchases every quarter, and during the holiday season, you earn extra cash back at the retailers you likely shop at the most.
“The Discover it Cash Back Credit Card is perfect for earning cash back on purchases from Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Amazon,” Reed said.
“If you’re planning on shopping at Target this holiday season, you can’t really go wrong with their card options,” Grant said. “The Target RedCard credit card gives you 5% off everyday purchases at Target and on Target.com. Five percent is about as much as you can hope for with most cash-back cards, and if you time your purchases around Black Friday deals, you could save even more money.”
“If you’ve applied for new credit recently and aren’t looking to apply for a new credit card just yet, you can instead apply for the Target RedCard debit card,” he continued. “It links to your checking account, but still offers the same 5% discount on purchases made with it.”
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