Luckily, credit card companies are following in the tradition of retailers and are offering their best promotions and sales during the holidays. So, as long as credit cards haven’t left lumps of coal in your stocking in the past, make sure to consider the following list of the Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping (some of which originate from CardHub advertising partners) as they have the potential to spread a lot of holiday cheer.
Those who aren’t in the market for a new card should also take note that credit card companies are offering a number of holiday promotions for existing cardholders . You can check them out, along with CardHub's 7 Tips for Saving on Holiday Shopping, below the following card selections.
Best for Lowering Your Holiday Spending Tab with an Initial Rewards Bonus
Provides 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 during the first three months. That’s equal to $500 in travel (when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards) or a $400 statement credit. No annual fee during the first year ($95 thereafter). By using this card for holiday spending, you’ll be able to either replenish your bank account soon thereafter or subsidize travel over spring break or summer vacation.
Spending at least $3,000 during the first 90 days that you have this card will trigger a 40,000-mile rewards bonus, which can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit applicable to any travel-related expense. This card, which begins charging an $59 annual fee the second year you have it, also offers the miles equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases.
Spending at least $3,000 during the first 90 days that you have this card will trigger a 40,000-mile rewards bonus, which can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit applicable to any travel-related expense. This card also provides the miles equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases. While it charges a slightly higher annual fee beginning in the second year than the Capital One Venture Card ($89 vs. $59), cardholders also get 10% of the miles they redeem for a travel statement credit back upon using them. As a result, this card is more valuable than the Venture Card if you spend more than $15,000 per year.
The Club Carlson Credit Card offers 50,000 bonus points with your first purchase and 35,000 additional points for spending at least $2,500 within 90 days. You can redeem the 85,000 points for up to 18 free hotel nights, depending on the category of hotel you select and the number of consecutive nights you book. (The last night of your stay is free when you use rewards to book at least two consecutive nights.) There is a $75 annual fee for this card.
Frequent travelers who like to stay at Hilton hotels can get up to 12 free nights via the 60,000-point bonus this card provides when you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months. Making this card, which charges a $75 annual fee, your primary spending vehicle during the expensive holiday shopping season will make that spending threshold much more attainable than usual.
Best Ongoing Rewards to Benefit During the Holidays & Beyond
This card provides the equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases – the highest base cash back rate among consumer cards – by giving you 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay your bill. It does not charge an annual fee.
Offers 6% cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), 3% at gas stations, 3% at department stores, and 1% on everything else. The $100 initial bonus and free year of Amazon Prime that it provides cardholders who spend at least $1,000 during the first three months also serves to cancel out at least the first year’s $75 annual fee. 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.
Best for Avoiding Interest on Holiday Purchases
You will not be assessed interest on the balances you incur with this card for the first 18 months you have it, provided that you submit at least the required minimum payment by the due date each month. It does not charge an annual fee, but a regular rate between 11.99% and 21.99% will kick in at the end of the 18-month intro period. Using this card in conjunction with a credit card calculator can help you avoid hundreds of dollars in interest as you pay down what you spend during the holiday season. Just make sure not to use it as an excuse to overspend.
One of the few other cards on the market offering 0% on new purchases for 18 months, this Bank of Hawaii product has a regular rate between 13.98% and 16.98% and does not charge an annual fee. It also offers 10,000 bonus points redeemable for a $100 statement credit if you spend at least $1,000 during the first 90 days, 1 point per $1 on all purchases, and a 10% year-end rewards bonus.
Best for Lowering the Cost of Existing Debt & Buying Yourself Some Holiday Shopping Breathing Room
Offers 0% on balance transfers for 15 months and doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee (for transfers made during the first 60 days) or an annual fee. The savings you can derive from this card could even be enough to cover all of your holiday shopping expenses. The average household has roughly $6,700 in credit card debt, and that figure is sure to rise during the expensive holiday shopping season. The Slate Card can therefore save many of us a lot of time and money paying down what we owe.
Best for Limited-Time Holiday Discounts at Major Retailers
New applicants for this card will be rewarded with a 20% discount that applies to the first order after account approval. Customers will also get a separate 15% discount coupon when their card arrives in the mail. Being a Kohl’s cardmember entitles you to several other discounts offered throughout the year as well.
Gives new cardholders up to $100 in discounts (20% off) on all merchandise purchased on the day of approval and the next day after. This offer is a store credit card, which means it can only be used at Macy’s locations and macys.com. However, it has less stringent approval requirements than most of the other cards mentioned on this page.
This card offers a 15% initial discount – on the day of account opening for in-store applicants or on any purchase made within the first 90 days of account opening for those who apply online.It also offers the equivalent of 8% cash back on Toys R Us purchases given that you receive 2 points per $1 and 125 points are worth $5.
This card offers a 15% discount on the day of account opening, and has no annual fee.
Issuer Promotions for Existing Cardholders
A number of credit card companies are also offering interesting holiday specials to existing cardholders. We reached out to the largest issuers about their particular promotions and an edited version of their responses can be found below.
1. 2X Membership Rewards® Points American Express Card Members enrolled in the Membership Rewards program can earn 2x Membership Rewards points through the month of December at 16 online merchants when they enroll and use an eligible U.S. American Express Card to shop. Select merchants include: Gap, Banana Republic, Williams Sonoma, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, among others. Card Members can enroll in the 2x Membership Rewards benefit by logging into their American Express account and visiting Amex Offers & Benefits.
2. Fast and Free Shipping With the holiday season approaching, consumers are looking to get fast and free shipping for holiday gift purchases. Just in time for the season, American Express has some great offers to keep you from running around for gifts.
- Free & Fast Shipping with ShopRunner: Enrolled Card Members will receive a complimentary ShopRunner membership (valued at $79 annually), getting FREE 2-day shipping and free return shipping on eligible items at more than 90 stores online with no minimum order size. Retailers include NewEgg, Neiman Marcus, Toys’R’Us, Drugstore.com, Tory Burch, ColeHaan, Stuart Weitzman, Coach and many more. To enroll, visit www.shoprunner.com/amex.
- Free Year of Amazon Prime: For a limited time, new Amex EveryDayand Blue Cash Credit Card Members will earn a year of free Amazon Prime. For more information, please visit www.americanexpress.com/primeoffereveryday. As you know, Amazon Prime offers unlimited free two-day shipping, unlimited instant streaming of movies and TV shows, ad-free access to more than a million songs, and a Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
- Starting now through Dec 31, Card Members enrolled in the Membership Rewards program will receive a 20% discount on merchandise from brands like LG, Beats, Apple, Best Buy, TUMI, Nikon, Cuisinart and Michael Kors.
- Visit ShopAmex.com to find discounts (at least 20% off) on a near-infinite amount of merchandise for your gifting needs, from electronics to wine accessories. Compare prices and use points (stating under 4,000) or cash.
Just in time to help with this busy season, Amex has launched a new offer, where you get an extra 2% cash back from October 15 to February 15, 2015 at Whole Foods Market when you use your Amex Blue Cash Credit Card, and that's 8% for Blue Cash Preferred® Card Members. To break it down in numerical terms, this translates to more than $14 back per month if you sign up/use their Blue Cash Everyday Card and nearly $23 back if they have the Blue Cash Preferred at Whole Foods! You can find the link to the offer here: www.americanexpress.com/wfm.
Customers who have the Barclays’ Upromise World MasterCard can benefit from the following promotions this holiday season:10% Upromise (5% standard reward + 5% bonus reward from Macy’s) and a $25 first-use bonus. With eligible online purchases through Upromise, you can earn 5% or more cash back as well as an additional 5% when you use your Upromise World MasterCard. Barclaycard US is also running The Barclaycard Holiday Wish List Sweepstakes from November 29 (Black Friday) until December 8.
The sweeps is open to both existing cardholders and the general public. The sweeps invites participants to choose their Top 10 gift wish list from a list of the 25 hottest gifts for the 2014 holiday season.
Once entrants have made their list, they are entered to win. We’ll randomly pick a winner daily and each daily winner will win one item from the Top 10 list. The Grand Prize winner will win all of the Top 10 wish list items.
Each of the Top 10 gifts are valued at up to $1,000. Some examples of the gift choices are: Playstation 4, XBox One, iPad Air, IPhone 5s, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Smart TV and more.
Capital One's Giving Site: During the holidays customers can use their rewards to make donations to charities via our Giving Site at www.capitalone.com/give. What’s really unique about our Giving Site is that 100 percent of the donation is delivered to the charity since Capital One covers the transaction costs for every donation. Also note that all donations including the ones made with your rewards via Capital One's Giving Site are tax deductible. However, we advise our customers to always check in with their tax advisor as well.
- From October 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent at Amazon.com and select department stores, such as JC Penney®, Macy's®, and Sears®.
Citi Price Rewind offers Citi credit cardmembers a way to save time and money – and an end to the age-old holiday dilemma of whether to buy now or wait until the price drops. Simply purchase an eligible item with your Citi card and register on citi.com/pricerewind. Citi will search for 60 days after purchase for a lower price. If a lower price is found, Citi will email the cardmember to notify them and the cardmember must submits their receipt and a claim. After the claim is approved – they will get a statement credit for the difference in price up to $300 per item.
- Cardmembers can sign up to earn a 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in online shopping and department store purchases made between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014. Signing up is quick and easy, simply call 1-800-DISCOVER (347-2683) or log onto the online Account Center at Discover.com.
- This holiday season, over 75 merchants on Discover Deals will provide special offers for our holiday promotion.
- Partner gift cards always add more value – for example, by redeeming $20 worth of Cashback Bonus to get a $25 gift card. Partner gift card values range, but all of them help stretch rewards even further.
During the months of November and December, Wells Fargo will be promoting brand-name retailers like Macys.com, Toms.com and Anthropologie.com offering anywhere from 10 to 20 bonus rewards points per dollar spent in a weekly email campaign to celebrate Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday shopping time period. Shop for anyone on your gift list, from the trend setter to the athlete to the hostess, and earn accelerated bonus rewards when you use the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall® Site.
Want even more ways to save? Check out the following tips for making this holiday season a happy one for both gift recipients and your wallet.
7 Tips for Saving on Holiday Shopping
- Budget Strategically: Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for, what you want to get them, and roughly what each item will cost. Then figure out how much you can afford to spend. If the two lists don’t match up, you’ll have to prioritize and come up with alternative ideas for some of your most expensive or unnecessary planned-buys. Using a credit card calculator will help you determine how long it will take to pay off what you purchase as well as how much interest you stand to incur.
- Shop Around & Set Alerts: We all know that comparing costs among retailers is an easy way to identify savings opportunities. You can make this process easier by setting news alerts for deals at your favorite stores or on particular items that you plan to buy.
- Limit Your Number of Transactions: From taxes to credit card processing to shipping fees, certain ancillary charges will accompany each individual purchase that you make. Planning out what you want to buy and determining how much you can get in one fell swoop can therefore enable you to maximize savings even more.
- Give Gift Now, Buy Later: A gift can be amazing without necessarily being tangible. So, if you plan on giving someone tickets to an event that’s a long way off, athletic gear for a season that’s months away, a vacation, etc., it might be worth wrapping up a representative trinket or presenting the gift in a festive card and then waiting to buy until prices fall from holiday peaks.
- Buy Gift Cards at a Discount: Gift cards are again the most requested type of holiday gift, according to the National Retail Federation. The ability that exists to save more than 20% on cards from popular retailers like Ann Taylor, H&M, and more therefore has the potential to pay big-time dividends.
- Take Advantage of Credit Card Savings: Via lucrative initial rewards bonuses, 0% financing deals, and various other discounts, credit cards offer a number of different ways to save during the holiday season.
- Avoid Deferred Interest Plans: Make sure to carefully read the fine print of any retailer-affiliated credit card that offers a 0% introductory rate. Many of these deals, according to CardHub’s Deferred Interest Study, have a clause that allows the issuer to retroactively apply interest to your entire purchase amount if you don’t pay off your balance in full by the end of the introductory period.