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From stocking stuffers to big electronic purchases, the holiday season can really put a dent in your wallet. Our team has put together a little gift for our readers - a list of credit cards that will get you the most bang for your buck as you start doing your shopping.
Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping
Credit Cards with Bonus Cash Back on Holiday Spending
There's a set of credit cards with special bonus categories during different seasons that allow cardholders to earn 5% cash back on up to the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter. These credit cards don't charge any annual fees, so there's no incremental cost to keeping them open if you pay off your balances in full.
Winner: Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back is a strong contender among the cash back bonus cards for the holidays. While the Discover card might not have the same broad appeal or reception at smaller merchants that the Chase Freedom Flex℠ enjoys, it does have an interesting offer for new cardmembers. Discover will double all the cash back earned at the end of your first year - essentially turning it into a minimum 2% cash back card for new cardmembers. Cardholders 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically For 2021, the categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March), gas stations, select streaming services and wholesale clubs (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com (October-December).
Credit Cards with the Best Bonuses
We include the two credit cards below because they have two of the best signing bonuses, usually worth from $400 - $500. For starters, consumers need to spend at a minimum $3,000 within the first three months to earn these bonus points and miles. This might be a bit out of reach for the typical consumer, but between the list of presents, the Black Friday electronic deals, and normal household spending, the $3,000 minimum becomes a lot easier to meet. The National Retail Foundation reports that this year's average shopper is expecting to shell out a little more than $800 this holiday, which alone takes people 27% of the way to the bonus minimum. Just bear in mind that the signing bonus hits your account sometime after the spending limit has been reached. In any event, the bonuses are sizable compared to most of the other credit cards out there, and can certainly come in handy for some post-holiday travel, or a post-Christmas present for yourself.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
While it's technically a travel card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has one of the best signup bonuses in the business. When you apply and are subsequently approved for the card, you are eligible for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's sizable signing bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
You have a few options for redeeming Ultimate Rewards points. If you're looking to exchange them for cold hard cash, the points are worth $600 and can be redeemed as soon as they hit your account. If you'd like to redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal the bonus is worth more.
- $95 annual fee
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®..
- Read our full review
Runner-up: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of our favorite cards on the market and its bonus won't disappoint when it comes to helping pay for any travel during or after the holiday season. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is primarily a travel card and does share the same bonus structure as the Chase offer: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card's sign-up bonus goes a great way towards paying for a warm-weather escape during the cold winter months. There will be some patience required between getting the miles and then redeeming them, but it's the best way to maximize value out of your bonus miles. Using Venture miles for regular cash back statement credits or on non-travel purchases gets you about half of the value compared to travel expenditures.
- $95 annual fee
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Read our full review
Credit Cards for Balance Transfer & 0% APR
As a rule, we always urge consumers to spend wisely and pay off their balance due to avoid late fees, higher penalty APRs, and negative impact on credit histories. However, we do recognize that we can benefit from credit cards with better balance transfers rates and more lenient late payment policies. This is especially important with the impending holidays when buying presents can add on more debt, or a hundred tasks for the holiday season push making payments to the back of one's mind. Our third category of credit cards is for the consumer who tends to carry balances, has an irregular payment history, or can appreciate more breathing room for making payments. There are two stand-outs in the balance transfer and 0% APR space that have long introductory periods of 0% APR for transfers and purchases, and various no late fee or no balance transfer fee policies.
Winner: Chase Slate®
If you're working on reducing your debt and are disciplined about paying your bills on time, the Chase Slate® is a great option to consider for the upcoming holiday season. The card does not charge a transfer fee for balance transfers made within the 60 days account opening (which usually costs about 3% or some set fee with other credit cards). The Chase Slate® also offers a 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months, which is a longer period than most other comparable options. Holiday shoppers who have spent more than they expected, or just need extra time to pay off Christmas gifts, can benefit from rolling their balances over to the Chase Slate®. This way, they can pay down their credit card debt over the course of the first year or so without the extra stress of mounting interest charges. New customers will see purchase and balance transfer APRs ranging between 16.49% - 25.24% Variable - though you should see issuer terms for the exact amount before applying. These lower rates mean that the cards will keep working for you after the introductory period ends.
- $0 annual fee
- $0 for the first 60 days that your Account is open, after that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
- 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months (then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR) and 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months (then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR)
- Read our full review
Runner-up: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
One of the best features of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is its leniency towards late payments. It doesn't charge the standard $15 - $35 in late fees that most other credit cards charge, which is a rare feature that will help holiday shoppers save on the penalties that typically get tacked onto late payments. The card also comes with a 0% for 18 months on Purchases (after which it will have a 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR). That's great news for consumers who need more wiggle room during the gift-giving season to make payments without incurring additional interest expense.
- $0 annual fee
- No late fees
- 0% for 18 months on Purchases, then 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR
- Read full review
The information related to the Chase Slate® and the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever have been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.