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Best Credit Cards For Holiday Shopping

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

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® 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 can also earn 5% cash back cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to a quarterly maximum each time you activate. For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target, 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 sizeable 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 of 60,000 points. But before you can receive this bonus you must hold up your end of the bargain which is to spend $4,000 inside of the first 3 months.

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
  • 60,000 bonus points (worth $600 in cash value or $750 through Ultimate Rewards travel portal), when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 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. You'll need to spend $3,000 on your new plastic within three months of opening the account to earn your 50,000-mile bonus. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card's bonus miles are worth $500 when redeemed for travel rewards, which 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 its 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, waived the first year
  • 50,000 bonus miles (worth $500 in travel statement credits), when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 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®

Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

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 balance transfer APR 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 16.74% - 25.49% 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.

  • No annual fee
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
  • Read our full review

Runner-up: Citi Simplicity® Card

One of the best features of the Citi Simplicity® Card 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 21-month intro 0% APR on balances transfers and 12 months of 0% intro APR on purchases (after which it will be 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)). That's great news for consumers who need more wiggle room during the gift-giving season to make payments without incurring additional interest expense.

  • No annual fee
  • No late fees
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 21 months
  • Read full review

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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