Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

Emilee Geist

Some of the links on this site contain offers from our partners. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. So why are you so stressed out? In most holiday seasons, we’re worried about time pressure and the extra spending that has to fit into our budgets. […]

Some of the links on this site contain offers from our partners.

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. So why are you so stressed out?

In most holiday seasons, we’re worried about time pressure and the extra spending that has to fit into our budgets. This year, we’re adding worries about pandemic-related supply shortages and inflated prices. The best way to deal with possible shortages is to shop early so you have time to find replacements, if needed.

In spite of inflation worries, a 2021 survey from the National Retail Foundation shows that consumers are expected to spend, on average, $998 on decorations, food and gifts during the holidays.

Whether you plan to top that or spend a fraction of that amount, consider using a rewards credit card to help offset the costs.

To make it easy for you, here’s a list of the best credit cards for holiday shopping:

Best Credit Card for Shopping Online

A majority of consumers still plan to do most of their shopping online, according to a 2021 Deloitte holiday retail survey. Respondents said they plan to do 62% of their holiday shopping online and 33% inside stores.

The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card isn’t tied to Amazon Prime, so there’s no annual fee or membership fee to pay. There’s another card, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, that’s for Amazon Prime members. You do get better rewards with that card, but you have to pay for Prime membership, which is $119 per year.

The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card offers the following:

  • 3% cash back on and on Whole Foods Market purchases.
  • 2% on restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.
  • 1% on everything else.

New cardholders receive a $60 gift card, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

But if you want to stick with the cards you already have, you can still save money online. Check out Amazon’s Shop with Points program, which allows you to use your cash back or points from selected credit cards to pay for Amazon purchases.

Eligible credit cards and rewards programs include the Membership Rewards program from American Express, Hilton Honors, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, cash back bonus from Discover Miles and the Amazon Business American Express Card.

Best Credit Card for Groceries

When people put together their holiday budgets, they often forget to include the nongift portion of the holidays. This can be significant, since many of you have traditions that might involve buying more alcohol (think entertaining) and eating more (sorry to bring this up, but you know it’s true).

If this is you, then consider the Chase Freedom Flex credit card. This card will help you feed and entertain a roomful of family and friends. Use this card during the holidays, and when you’ve spent $500 within the first three months of opening your account, you’ll earn a $200 cash bonus to help reduce holiday expenses.

Here are other cash back features of the card:

  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases, excluding Target and Walmart, on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in quarterly revolving bonus categories (requires online activation).
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • 3% cash back on dining and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% cash back on drugstores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

Pretty generous, right? In addition, you earn 5% on travel booked via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You get all of those rewards without having to pay an annual fee, which is a great deal.

Best Credit Card for Department Store Shopping

When my daughter was growing up, we had a tradition of getting up early on Black Friday, going to the mall to start holiday shopping and then going out for breakfast. One year, we did all that and even made it to her dentist appointment by 7:15 a.m.

These days, I’m an online shopper. But if you prefer the big holiday sales at department stores, the Blue Cash Everyday Card helps you save on purchases. The good news? You’ll get cash back whether you’re shopping in-store or online. And if some of you still plan to drive to the mall, you can save on gas purchases, too, with this card.

Here are the cash back rewards for this credit card:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent annually (1% after that).
  • 2% at U.S. department stores.
  • 2% on U.S. gas purchases.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

You can also earn a $200 statement credit if you spend $2,000 within the first six months.

Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards

This card has a generous sign-up bonus. You get 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card uses a reward points system. For each dollar spent, you get one point, worth 1 cent. But if you redeem points for travel via the Chase rewards travel portal, each point is worth 1.25 cents. So, 60,000 points is worth $600 if you redeem it for a statement credit. But it’s worth $750 if redeemed for travel.

You’ll earn five points on travel purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards and two points on other travel, such as transportation to and from airports. You also get a $50 annual hotel credit.

Plus, you can earn three points for each dollar spent on takeout food or in-person dining, and fees for select delivery services are waived for purchases that exceed $12.

In addition, you can earn five points for each dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022. And if you’ve been thinking about getting a Peloton, use this card and get $60 cash back on digital and all-access membership fees through Dec. 31, 2021.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has many other benefits, such as trip cancellation and baggage delay insurance, access to 24/7 customer service, and zero foreign transaction fees.

You get a lot of rewards and benefits, so there is a $95 annual fee. Before applying, make sure you’ll earn more than enough rewards to justify paying the fee.

Best Credit Card for Those Who Want Simplicity

There’s nothing wrong with simplicity. I’m a huge fan of that. If this is what you want, then the Citi Double Cash Card may be for you. This card also comes with an 18-month balance transfer offer that could benefit those who are in credit card debt.

For those who plan to use this card for holiday spending, you get 1% cash back on your purchases and another 1% for each payment you make by the due date. If you like being rewarded for on-time payments, that’s another reason to love this card.

So, that’s a total of 2% across the board. Not bad, since it will take minimum thought. You’ll need good to excellent credit to be approved for this card, and there’s no annual fee.

Comparative assessments and other editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

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