We're into the holiday shopping, cooking, spending season, and credit card issuers are ready for it, with special offers on cards, new price comparison apps, and more.

Best cards for holiday shopping

Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com, names his picks for the best credit card for holiday shopping. Discover, Chase, Wells Fargo and Capital One are all offering incentives for shopping at their merchant centers. On ShopDiscover.com, for example, cardholders can get bonus rebates of up to 15 percent. Capital One has increased its offerings on the Perks Central shopping portal. They've also launched a "purchase eraser" tool, with which cardholders can pay off an item on your statement with accrued rebate credit.

Citi Price Rewind: buy now, save later

Citi credit cardholders can now let Citi do price comparisons for them. Citi introduced its Price Rewind program yesterday, which allows customers to get the price difference if a registered purchase is found at a lower price - at least $25 - within 30 days of the original purchase. It's not quite as easy as it sounds: Cardholders must register purchases, and there are some limitations on what are covered (e.g., a watch is, a diamond ring is not).When they receive an email that a lower price has been found, they'll need to upload the original receipt. Then a check will be sent to the cardholder. Cardholders can get savings up to $250 per item with a cap of $1,000 annually.

MasterCard's 'Click and Be Generous' aids Stand Up to Cancer

MasterCard announced a charitable giving program that began on Nov. 12 and runs through the end of the year. The program, "Click and Be Generous," will donate money to Stand Up to Cancer every time a cardholders charges $10 or more shopping online. In a press release, MasterCard said it will donate up to $2 million to the cause.

FTC crackdown on Cardholder Services

You've probably gotten that call telling you Cardholder Services can reduce your credit card interest rates. Last week the Federal Trade Commission halted the operations of five of these firms. According to a Bucks blog post by Ann Carrns in the New York Times, "The agency asserted that they tricked consumers into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars by making phony claims that they could reduce credit card interest rates in return for a fee -- sometimes as high as $3,000 -- paid up front." Of course, more of these companies will probably spring up in the future.

Discover survey: Consumers will spend more this holiday season

Discover released its 2012 Discover Annual Holiday Shopping Survey on Monday, predicting that consumers will spend about $100 more this year than last. The average spend will be $838, up from $748 in 2011. Also noted in the survey is that gift cards are the No. 1 item on the wish lists of both men and women. Last month the National Retail Federation forecast the average consumer would spend nearly $750 on holiday stuff - gifts, food, greeting cards, etc.

Alternative data for creating credit scores

Rachel Schneider and Rob Levy from the Center for Financial Services Innovation wrote a guest post on American Banker's BankThink section last week that discussed ways to use alternative data - such as telecom and utility payments - to help those with little or no credit build a credit profile. In particular, they looked at how H.R. 6363 may help increase consumers' access to credit.

Current Credit Card Rates from CardRatings.com as of Nov. 12, 2012

Type of card

This week

Last week

Low Intro. Rate

0.20%

0.19%

Limited/No Credit

19.59%

19.53%

Low Ongoing Rate

14.50%

13.95%

Air Miles/Travel

16.32%

14.97%

Rewards Points

16.69%

16.69%

Cash Back

16.10%

16.10%

Student

16.15%

16.15%

Business

15.41%

15.41%