Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

best credt cards for holiday shopping

‘Tis the season to be jolly — and spend like there’s no tomorrow. Unfortunately, there is a tomorrow, one when all of the bills for the holiday fun and gift-giving arrive. However, there are credit cards that can help you minimize your post-holiday spending pain.

“By putting your spending on a cash-back or rewards card, you might even be able to save some money,” said Bethy Hardeman, chief consumer advocate at Credit Karma. “[However,] not maxing out your credit is one of the easiest ways to keep your credit healthy so you can avoid any nasty surprises after the holidays.”

With that in mind, here are 10 credit cards that might cheer you up during the holidays by saving you money — or earning you some.

Learn: 7 Holiday Savings Tips You’ve Never Heard Before

1. Citi Simplicity Card

If you want to avoid interest on your holiday purchases for a while — a long while — this card might be a smart choice, said Hardeman. “Citi currently offers one of the longest 0% APR introductory rate periods on balance transfers and purchases at 21 months,” she said.

Another bonus of the Citi Simplicity card is the fact that you will never get charged a late fee or a penalty APR, Hardeman added. But remember, paying off those holiday credit card purchases before the promotional 0% APR expires is a must. Once the promotional period ends, a variable APR will kick in on any unpaid balance. Currently, that’s between 12.99% APR and 22.99% APR, depending on your creditworthiness.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The Citi Simplicity card offers no ongoing rewards program and carries a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

If you like to travel and dine out at restaurants, and plan to do so this holiday season, this card might be for you. “This card is a popular choice for frequent travelers, offering two points on travel and restaurant purchases, and one point on all other purchases,” said Hardeman.

Another benefit is that points can be redeemed for travel and transferred to a leading airline for full value — in other words, one point equals one mile. The card also features great travel benefits like trip cancellation, trip interruption protection, auto rental collision damage waivers and more. In addition, you’ll also receive 40,000 points as a bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee after the first year and no low introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers.

Related: Should You Get a Travel Credit Card?

3. Discover It

If doubling your cash sounds good, you might want to consider Discover It. At the end of your first year, your cash-back rewards balance is automatically doubled, and the cash-back program is pretty good overall. “This card offers changing quarterly 5 percent cash-back bonus categories and unlimited 1 percent cash-back on all other purchases,” Hardeman said. This quarter, holiday favorites like Amazon.com, department stores and clothing stores qualify for 5 percent cash back.

The card’s no annual fee policy and the introductory APR are also major draws, Hardeman added. You’ll get 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months and on purchases for six months. There’s no over-limit or foreign transaction fees, either. If you’re planning to shop at department stores with high-interest store cards, this might be a better option.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The revolving rewards categories that Discover It offers also mean that you’ll have to pay attention to get the most out of your rewards card, said Hardeman.

4. Chase Freedom

If you’re planning on doing a lot of your holiday shopping online this year, the Chase Freedom card could help you save some cash — and give you a little extra on the side. Similar to the Discover It card, this card offers 5 percent cash back on certain purchases, revolving quarterly. Currently, the bonus categories are for online retailers, including Amazon.com, Zappos.com, Audible.com and Diapers.com.

Another nice perk is the $100 sign-up bonus after you spend just $500 in the first three months. Plus, this time of year, most will hit $500 in three days. That means your gifts will cost 20 percent less. You can even earn another $25 if you add another authorized user who makes a purchase in those three months. Finally, the no annual fee policy and the 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months are other great bonuses.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: Chase Freedom has a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, so if you’re traveling overseas for the holidays, be aware of that.

5. U.S. Bank Cash + Visa Signature Card

If you want to choose the categories for which you’ll earn a 5 percent cash back bonus, this is a good option. “You can pick two categories to receive 5 percent cash back on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases each quarter,” said Hardeman. Popular holiday categories include big-name clothing stores, department stores and electronic stores — like The Gap, Macy’s and the Apple Store.

This card will also give you 2 percent cash back on gas station, grocery store and restaurant purchases and 1 percent on everything else. The no annual fee and the fact that there is no limit on total cash back are attractive features of this card.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The U.S. Bank Cash card doesn’t have a low introductory balance transfer or purchase rate — so depending on your creditworthiness, you could get stuck with a 23.99% APR.

6. Citi Thank You Preferred Card

If you want some cash by the time your first holiday bill comes around, you might consider this card. The Citi Thank You rewards program for new cardholders includes 20,000 bonus points for people who spend $1,500 in the first three months — and those points can be exchanged for $200 in cash.

With no annual fee, one point per dollar charged and a 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months, this is a go-to credit card for college students just beginning their credit history, said Julie Ritten, CSA, retirement income specialist and founder of Ritten Financial.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: If you have better credit or a longer credit history than a typical college student, you can probably find better offers than the Citi Thank You Preferred card.

7. Citi Thank You Premier Card

If you have better credit and plan on spending more than a college student this holiday season, this rendition of the Citi Thank You card can be a better fit for you. “This card’s 50,000-point initial bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months is the market’s most valuable, worth $625 when redeemed for airfare or $500 in gift cards,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for CardHub.

The fact that cardholders earn three points per dollar spent on gas, two points for each dollar spent on dining and entertainment, and one point on everything else makes this card even more worth it. And your points never expire as long as your account is open.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The Citi Thank You Premier card doesn’t have a low introductory APR on balance transfers or purchases, and after the first year, the annual fee is $95.

8. Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

If you plan on entertaining — and feeding — a lot of friends and family this year, this card could help reward you for all of your hard work. The Blue Cash Preferred card offers 6 percent cash back on supermarket purchases up to $6,000. It also offers 3 percent cash back at gas stations and department stores, and 1 percent cash back on everything else.

“This card enables you to save on all of your shopping and automobile gas, not only during the holidays when these costs might be inflated, but throughout the rest of the year as well,” said Gonzalez.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The Blue Cash Preferred card’s annual fee can be a major letdown for some cardholders.

9. Chase Slate Card

If your goal is to pay off credit card debt so you can breathe a little easier this holiday season, Chase Slate is probably your best bet. The card offers a 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months. The unique thing about this card — and the best thing — is that it doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee or an annual fee. That alone can add up to some hefty savings.

Gonzalez calculated that if you paid off a $7,400 balance over two years after transferring it to this card, for example, you could save more than $900 in fees and interest. That’s not a bad holiday gift to yourself.

The “More Naughty Than Nice” Side: The Chase Slate card offers no rewards program, so it’s strictly for saving on last year’s holiday debt. You also need good to great credit to qualify.

Keep Reading: Top 7 Credit Cards for Earning Rewards on Your Holiday Shopping

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