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The last few months of the calendar year are a hectic time for most households. If you’re like most people, you need to book your winter trip and buy Christmas gifts. This season is also a perfect time to apply for one of the best credit cards for holiday shopping.

best credit cards for holiday shopping
Using one of the best credit cards for holiday shopping can help make it easier to earn those hard-to-reach signup bonuses. Credit: Pexels

The Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

The average person will spend $1,048 in the 2019 holiday shopping season. Your above-average spending makes it easy to qualify for the best limited-time credit card offers.

This holiday season, consider getting one these cards to maximize your cash rewards or travel rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best all-around cards for travel rewards. You earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel and dining plus 1x point per $1 on non-bonus purchases. The signup bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 in award travel) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

You won’t earn bonus points on merchandise purchases (unless you buy from the Shop through Chase online shopping partners). But, your points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be worth at least 25% more than other credit cards. Each point is worth 1.25 cents each when booking award travel through Chase. Plus, you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to airline and hotel partners like United, Southwest Airlines, Emirates, and World of Hyatt.

Note that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is also one of the best travel credit cards you can have in your wallet.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Earn unlimited 2x miles on purchases with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Through January 2020, you also earn 10x miles on Hotels.com/venture purchases. Spending $3,000 in the first 3 months gives you 50,000 bonus miles worth $500 in award travel.

You can redeem your Capital One miles for travel statement credits, booking upcoming travel, and transferring to the Capital One airline transfer partners.

In regards to shopping benefits, this card has two built-in price monitoring tools. Wikibuy scans various online websites to help you find the lowest price. After you make a purchase, Paribus continues to see if the merchant drops the retail price in the near future.

If so, you might be able to claim a partial refund for the price difference.

One additional travel benefit you may like is Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, good for up to $100. The annual fee is $0 for the first year then $95. There is no foreign transaction fee.

Note that the Venture is also considered to be one of the best travel cards. Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture Rewards cards for more details.

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom® offers rotating 5% quarterly bonus categories. From October through December 2019, you get 5% on the first $1,500 in department stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay purchases. All non-bonus spending earns 1% back.

The limited-time signup bonus is $150 bonus cash after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening.

All purchase rewards deposit into your account as Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Your points are worth 1 cent each and redeemable for cash, travel, or gift cards. If you own a Chase Sapphire credit card, your points qualify for the travel redemption bonus and 1:1 airline and hotel point transfer.

Learn more: Cash Back Credit Cards

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most luxurious credit cards. Its many air travel benefits are perfect for frequent flyers. This card also has one of the largest welcome bonus spend requirements.

With the CardMatch tool, you can learn if you are eligible to earn 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. This targeted-offer is worth $1,000 in award travel. Most credit card bonus offers are $3,000 or less, so your various holiday purchases may be enough to qualify for this massive bonus.

Here are a few of the Platinum Card’s most valuable benefits:

  • Earn 5x Membership Rewards on flights booked on AmexTravel or directly from the airline
  • Earn 5x points on hotel nights booked on AmexTravel (1x points for all remaining purchases)
  • Transfer points airline and hotel partners (usually at a 1:1 ratio)
  • Annual $200 airline fee credit
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber credits
  • Complimentary airport lounge access (including Priority Pass, Centurion, and Delta Sky Club)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits

The annual fee for the Amex Platinum is $550 (See Rates & Fees). You will need a 740 credit score or higher to qualify.

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Amazon Rewards Credit Cards

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature and the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you’re going to be doing all of your online shopping at Amazon, adding an Amazon Rewards credit card to your wallet can be a smart move. There are two different versions of the Amazon credit card but neither one has an annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Amazon Prime members qualify for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature. You get 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases (plus a $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval). The basic Amazon Rewards Visa Signature only earns 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods (plus a $50 Amazon.com gift card upon approval).

Both card versions earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. All remaining spend earns 1% back. Your points are most valuable when redeemed for Amazon.com shopping credit.

But if you aren’t looking for more flexibility but still plan to shop online, consider one of the best credit cards for online shopping.

Amex EveryDay Credit Card

By using your Amex EveryDay® Credit Card at least 20 times in a billing cycle, you get 20% more points that month. This card earns American Express Membership Rewards points. If you own another Membership Rewards credit card (like the Amex Platinum), you can use this card to get 1.2 points per $1 on your non-bonus holiday shopping.

You will earn 2x points on the first $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets. All non-bonus spending earns 1x point per $1. Twenty or more card purchases means you earn 2.4x points at supermarkets and 1.2 points on everything else for that month.

Spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening also lets you qualify for the 10,000-point welcome offer worth $100 in award travel.

The Amex EveryDay has no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).

Summary of the Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

The best credit cards for holiday shopping may let you earn some of the largest bonus offers. It’s also possible to get bonus points on your travel and retail purchases. Plus, these cards can continue to reap rewards once the holiday season ends.


What is the best cash back credit card?

The best cash back credit card depends on your spending habits and what card makes it the easiest to redeem your rewards points. For holiday shopping, the Chase Freedom can be best as you get up to 5% back on department stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay purchases.

For flat-rate rewards, the Citi® Double Cash Card earns 2% back on all purchases. You get the first 1% back when you make the purchase. The second 1% is awarded once you pay your balance. Learn more: Cash Back Credit Cards

What gift cards can I buy with a gift card?

Your rewards credit card can buy any gift cards you buy in-store or at an online store. Your selection may be limited if you want to redeem your credit card points for a gift card. However, most credit card rewards programs let you redeem your points for most “chain” retail, restaurant, and travel brands.

If you plan on redeeming points for gift cards, make sure your points are worth at least one cent each. Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each for gift cards. Participating Chase credit cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom, and Chase Freedom Unlimited.

American Express Membership Rewards points are worth 1 cent each for most gift cards. Some of the participating cards include:

  • Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • American Express® Green Card
  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Are Target and Walmart a department store for the Chase Freedom 5% cash bonus?

No. Target, Walmart, and Amazon.com purchases do not qualify as a department store. Chase classifies these stores as “discount stores.” Also, warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s don’t qualify as a department store. Electronics stores like Best Buy don’t qualify either.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, please click here.

Josh Patoka

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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