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Best credit cards for holiday shopping

By , Editor-in-chief

Our credit card reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity and are independent of whether a card is an advertiser; however, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. See details on how we make money here.

Best credit cards for holiday shopping

The holidays are the season of spending. Be sure to maximize your savings by earning rewards on gifts and entertaining purchases that you would normally make. These cards are great for saving you money or providing a bit of cash back.

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®
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Our editor's take:
Taking advantage of Freedom’s current cash back category (5% cash back for purchases from Amazon) is an amazing opportunity for Freedom® cardholders who buy holiday gifts online. For new cardholders, the $150 bonus sign up offer is quite appealing too.

Chase Rotating Categories, 2016

2016 Rotating Categories, Chase

Card Details
Bonus OfferEarn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Purchase APR14.24%-23.24% Variable
Annual fee$0

If you don’t already have a Chase Freedom® card, it might be a good time to consider signing up. If you’re not currently a card member, Chase is offering the chance to earn a $150 bonus to help sweeten the deal. The Freedom® card also offers the chance to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases– so even if your holiday shopping takes you beyond the current category offerings you’ll still be earning rewards for your spending.

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Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
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Our editor's take:
Discover it® has you covered when it comes to cash back. Each quarter, Discover offers a category that provides 5% cash back, and at the end of your first year of card membership Discover doubles the cash back you've earned, which essentially means you can be eligible for 10% cash back on certain purchases. The opportunity to earn serious cash back is front and center with the Discover It® card.

Card Details
Purchase APR11.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual fee$0

Even more exciting, the New! Double All Cash Back You First Year program has made it so new cardholders can reap the benefits, twice. At the end of your first year as a card member, Discover will double the cash back you’ve earned. So if you’ve earned 5% cash back on a rotating category, Discover will double that at the end of your first year as a card member – resulting in a 10% cash back on purchases that you made with the 5% cash back bonus. All-in-all this is the highest cash back percentage we know of – if you know of something better let us know in the comments.

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Upromise World MasterCard® by SallieMae

Upromise World MasterCard® by SallieMae
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Our editor's take:
The Upromise Mastercard® is the definition of smart spending. Each time a cardholder users the Upromise, rewards can be put directly toward college tuition. And rewards rates are high too — cash back opportunities range from 5% - 1% cash back.

Card Details
Purchase APR14.24%, 20.24% or 23.24%
Annual feeNone

Shopping with this MasterCard® takes the stress out of holiday shopping, and the stress out of financing college. With each purchase made with the Upromise, cash back earnings can go toward college tuition. Cardholders can earn a whopping 5% back from online shopping, restaurants, and online travel. Department stores and movie theaters earn 2% cash back and all other purchases earn 1% cash back. There is no limit to the total cash back you can earn on eligible purchase either, which means each time you swipe you’re a step closer to tackling college debt.

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees EverAbout Our Ratings

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Our editor's take:
If you need a bit of extra time to pay off holiday spending Citi Simplicity® is a great card to consider. Simplicity® touts a 21-month long 0% intro APR which happens to be the longest intro APR on the market.

Card Details
Purchase APR13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)
Annual fee$0*

While cash back rewards are always welcome, sometimes just having a bit of extra leeway when it comes to paying off holiday spending is what you want. While we condone responsible credit card use and spending within your means, 0% APR credit cards can help bridge the gap when increased spending arises during the holiday season.

Citi® Simplicity® card has just introduced the “Grand Poobah” of 0% intro offer credit cards. If you are a new cardholder of Citi® Simplicity® the 0% intro APR lasts for 21 months – the longest 0% intro APR currently on the market. Citi® Simplicity® also comes with a no-fee policy… No late fees, no penalty rate, no annual fee. Citi® Simplicity® is one of the Citi® cards that comes with the price rewind feature too, so not only do you have some extra time to ensure you’re paying off your debts, you’ll also be able to guarantee you’re paying the lowest price every time you use your Citi® Simplicity® card.

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Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
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Our editor's take:
The generous 40,000 bonus miles (or $400 in travel purchases) intro offer from Venture® is the most obvious benefit of this card, but the high-ongoing rewards rate is what truly makes this card special.

Card Details
Points or MilesEarn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Bonus OfferEnjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
Purchase APR13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)
Annual fee$0 intro for first year; $59 after that

If the huge sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus miles (or $400 in travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from Venture® doesn’t capture your interest, perhaps the on-going high rewards rate will. Cardholders can receive 2x miles on every purchase, uncapped. The $59 annual fee is waived the first year, and moving forward if you spend about $250 on your card each month, you’ll offset the annual fee.

Rewards can be redeemed for miles for any flight, hotel stay, car rentals, cruises, among other travel-related purchases, with no blackout dates to worry about. For those who have used airline specific cards, you know how hard it can be to sometimes book the flight you really want. And because points never expire, there is no limit to the amount you can earn. So as you’re chipping away on your holiday list, each purchase can earn points toward that much needed vacation once your in-laws leave town after the holidays.

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Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offerAbout Our Ratings
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Our editor's take:
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a great option for cardholders that like a simple rewards program: 1% cash back for all purchases made and 1% cash back after you pay for your purchases. The new Citi® PriceRewind feature ensures cardholders receive the best deals on all purchases, making holiday shopping even easier and potentially less expensive.

Card Details
Purchase APR13.24% - 23.24%* (Variable)
Annual fee$0*

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Citi® is a CardRatings.com advertiser) is a great option if you would prefer to put your cash back program on autopilot, and do away with rotating categories, specific store requirements, and annual fees. Perfect if you aren’t quite sure where this holiday season will direct your purchasing. Unlike some reward cards that operate on a system that offers rotating categories that give a little more back on spending with specific department stores or websites during the holiday season (but exclude other practical expenditures) Citi® keeps it easy – no rotating categories, simply 1% cash back for all purchases made, and 1% cash back as you pay for your purchases. Another option is to double up cards with one of the ones that offer rotating categories below and use your Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer as your card for purchases that don’t fall into one of the 5% cash back categories, and have your cake and eat it too!

Citi® cardholders also receive the benefits of Citi® Price Rewind. Every time you use your Citi® card to make an online purchase – such as holiday gifts – Citi® Price Rewind will perform a 60-day search for a lower price on the item you purchased. If you didn’t get the lowest price available, then you can request a refund of the price difference. If you’re in a holiday hurry, don’t waste time comparing store prices, just use your Citi® card to do the grunt work.

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Each of the credit cards that CardRatings.com has featured can be a helpful tool for holiday shoppers to cost-effectively check items off their holiday list. In order to take full-advantage of the perks these credit cards offer, cardholders will need to pay off their balances in a timely manner, and spend within their limits. Overspending and under-paying the balance will quickly off-set the rewards earned.

Other top offers to consider in this category: Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card and the M&T Visa Signature.

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