2013's Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

Last update: Nov 14, 2013
2013's Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping
Santa and his elves are hard at work these days, double-checking their lists and trying to make sure that every child who’s been nice this year has a merry holiday season. But times have been tough for a lot of us, including Mr. Claus, and we could all benefit from savings during such an expensive time of the year. 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, you should consider the following list of the Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping because these offers have the potential to spread a lot of holiday cheer.
There are two groups of credit cards that can help you this holiday season: 1) those that you already have in your wallet and 2) those that you can apply for. Not only are there a number of attractive new rewards and 0% interest credit cards currently on the market, but certain credit card companies are also sweetening the deal for existing customers as the holidays roll around.
When it comes to finding the right credit card to apply for this holiday season, it is important that you determine which of the following five primary consumer needs you’re trying to address:
  • Lowering your holiday spending tab by getting a card with a lucrative initial rewards bonus.
  • Earning the best ongoing rewards in order to benefit throughout the entire year and beyond.
  • Performing a balance transfer in order to minimize the cost of existing credit card debt and create some breathing room for holiday shopping.
  • Buying time to pay down holiday purchases without interest by opening a 0% credit card.
  • Taking advantage of a significant discount a major retailer.
For your convenience, we have listed the best credit cards for each purpose below. You can also check out the promotions that credit card companies are offering to existing card holders as well as CardHub's 7 Tips for Saving on Holiday Shopping.
  • Best Initial Rewards Bonuses

    Provides 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 during the first three months. That’s equal to $500 in travel 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 $1,000 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 $89 annual fee the second year you have it, also offers the miles equivalent of 2% cash back across all purchases.
  • 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

    Offers 6% cash back at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations, 3% at department stores, and 1% on everything else. The $150 initial bonus it provides cardholders who spend at least $1,000 during the first three months also serves to cancel out two years’ worth of the $75 annual fee this card charges. 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.
  • A straightforward, yet valuable rewards offer, the Quicksilver Card provides 1.5% cash back on all purchases as well as a $100 initial bonus for spending at least $500 during the first three months. It charges a $39 annual fee.
  • 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.
  • Another no-annual-fee Citicard offering 0% on new purchases, the Simplicity Card has a 12.99% - 21.99% regular rate.
  • Best for Lowering the Cost of Existing Debt

    Offers 0% on balance transfers for 15 months and doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee 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 Limited-Time Discounts

    Gives new cardholders 20% off apparel, shoes, handbags, and fashion jewelry and 10% off fine jewelry, watches, and home merchandise purchased the day of approval. This offer is a store credit card, which means it can only be used at JCPenney locations. However, it has less stringent approval requirements than most of the other cards mentioned on this page.
  • This card – which can be used at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Piperlime – offers a 15% discount on the day of account opening, 5 points per $1 spent at the aforementioned retailers, a $10 gift card for every 1,000 points earned, and a variety of other special offers.
  • This card can be used at Ann Taylor-branded retailers offers a 15% discount on the day of account opening, 5 points per $1 spent, a $20 gift card for every 2,000 points earned, and a $15 discount on your birthday.

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