Top 7 Credit Cards for Earning Rewards on Your Holiday Shopping

As the winter season draws near, shoppers are starting to sweat over the high cost of gifts. However, shopping for presents can actually earn you big benefits if you shop with a rewards credit card, especially if you take advantage of incentives offered to new customers. Here are a few of the best rewards credit cards available today.

Read: 8 Ways to Get Your Holidays Off to a Budget-Savvy Head Start

1. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Having a credit card that earns you points during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year can be crucial when it comes to saving money. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, for example, allows you to rack up travel rewards. If you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles.

Related: 10 Best and Worst Deal Sites for Holiday Flight Savings

The rewards card also earns you double miles on all purchases, and you receive 5 percent miles back every time you redeem for travel statement credits. Although the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard has an $89 annual fee, your first year is free. Other perks include:

  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months
  • No balance transfer rate for 12 months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary online FICO credit score access

2. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card

Pentagon Federal Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the nation. Its PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Card is a competitive option for members looking to earn rewards this holiday season.

With this rewards credit card, you earn $100 in statement credit when you spend $1,500 within 90 days of signing up. You also earn:

  • Five points per dollar spent on gas purchases
  • Three points per dollar spent at grocery stores
  • One point per dollar spent on all other purchases

You can redeem points for merchandise, travel, gift cards and prepaid Visa cards. This card also has no annual fee and comes with an introductory 0% APR promotional balance transfer rate.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

A popular choice among credit card users, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card allows you to earn points for travel, gift cards, cash back and merchandise. Your card earns you double points on travel and dining, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. When you sign up, you can earn 40,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on qualifying purchases within three months.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee, your first year’s fee is waived. Other perks of this card include:

  • 5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user and they make a qualifying purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to top travel programs

4. Discover it Card

The Discover it card allows you earn big points in categories that rotate every quarter. Make a qualifying purchase and you can earn five percent cash back. Other purchases will earn you one percent. Your Discover it card also comes with these features:

  • No annual fee
  • Cash back redemption is doubled at the end of your first year
  • 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Freeze It on/off switch allows you to “turn off” your credit card remotely

5. American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card

If you’re a frugal shopper, you can still earn a respectable amount of rewards with the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. For new members, you can earn a statement credit after you spend a certain amount on purchases within the first few months of opening your account. This rewards credit card also has no rotating categories, meaning year round you earn:

  • 3 percent cash back at grocery stores, up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • 2 percent cash back at gas stations and select department stores
  • 1 percent cash back elsewhere

Read: 7 Holiday Shopping Apps to Stick to Your Gift Budget

Capital One

6. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card allows you to earn points you can use toward any airline or hotel at any time. The rewards card earns you two points per dollar on every purchase. If you make $3,000 in qualifying purchases within three months of opening your account, you earn 40,000 bonus miles, which is equal to $400 in travel.

Although the card comes with a $59 annual fee, your fee is waived for the first year. Your card also has no foreign transaction fees.


7. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

For a well-rounded rewards credit card, look to the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card. It offers 20,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you make $1,500 in qualifying purchases within three months of opening your account. With your bonus points, you can redeem up to $200 in gift cards you can use toward gifts or other purchases. Members also earn:

  • Two ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment
  • One ThankYou Point per dollar spent elsewhere

The ThankYou Preferred Card also has no annual fee and a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. Your points also do not expire, meaning you can rack up points now to use on purchases for the next holiday season.

Photo credit: bruceg1001 / Flickr

Rates for the Top 7 Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards Credit CardAPR (Variable)
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard15.99% to 19.99%
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature9.99% to 17.99%
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card15.99% to 29.99%
Discover it10.99% to 22.99%
AmEx Blue Cash Everyday Card12.99% to 21.99%
Capital One Venture Rewards12.9% to 22.9%
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card12.99% to 22.99%

  • C

    I’m pretty happy with the perks #3 offers, but it’s great to know what comparable credit card options are out there.

  • Anon

    Seems to me that Chase still has the best sign-up bonus (still hate them), but they’re only for new customers. I don’t see why they can’t also reward their long-standing customers. Why isolate them?

    That just goes to show how greedy these big banks are. It’s ridiculous how much they’re willing to step on those that help their business thrive.

  • G

    Super helpful. Whar card do you personally recommend?

    • Jennifer

      I love PenFed! But that’s just because I have a long daily commute.

  • Sara

    any subprime credit card suggestions?

  • Matt Jones

    I have heard nothing but good things about the Chase Sapphire card. Will have to keep this option in mind when it’s time to eliminate my existing debt with a balance transfer!

  • RePeter

    I probably don’t NEED another credit card… But this article points to some tempting offers!

  • Nicole

    What card do you use Jennifer?