Are you gearing up for the holiday shopping season but don’t know which credit card to use? Depending on where you shop and what you’re buying, there may be a perfect card to maximize your cash back or travel rewards. The holidays also mark a perfect occasion for applying for a new card, if you plan to use it responsibly, as Black Friday and holiday shopping purchases can help you qualify for sometimes sizeable credit card signup bonus rewards. Here are some of our favorite credit cards for shopping that may be good enough earn a spot in your wallet all year long.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
If you want free travel with an annual fee of $100 or less, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is an excellent choice. For $95 per year, this card offers a wide range of benefits, including 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and a valuable 60,000-point signup bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening a new account. When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, that is worth $625 toward travel to get you started.
The card currently offers 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12-months after opening a new account. The card also includes valuable purchase protections. When you pay with this card, new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim. The card also gives you an automatic extended manufacturer’s warranty for up to one additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less. Between shopping protections, valuable rewards points and a big signup bonus, this is our favorite card for shopping right now.
Another Chase card, Freedom offers 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that change every calendar quarter. For Q4 2018, the bonus categories include department stores and warehouse clubs. If you plan to shop for holiday gifts at Costco, Sam’s, or any major department store, you’ll want to use Chase Freedom. This card has no annual fee and pairs well with the above mentioned Chase Sapphire Preferred. When you have both cards, you can convert cash back into Chase Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1 cent = 1 point. You can often get more than 1 cent per point in value from Ultimate Rewards, which makes this a compelling duo.
There’s a bonus here, too. Spend $500 on purchases in the first three months for $150 in bonus cash back. That’s on top of the 5% bonus categories (limited to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) and an unlimited 1% everywhere else. This card offers 15-months at 0% APR for new cardholders on purchases and balance transfers. Like Chase Sapphire Preferred, this card offers purchase protection and extended warranty protection, perfect for those holiday purchases.
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus credit card is a great travel rewards card that makes using your miles really easy. Just book travel as you would regularly through any major airline, hotel, travel website, or other service providers. Then, you can log into your Barclaycard account to reimburse yourself with points. Cardholders earn 2x miles on every purchase plus a 70,000-point bonus after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days you have the card. Miles don’t expire, provided the account is open, active and in good standing. When you redeem points for travel, you get 5% back toward your next redemption.
While the card does charge an $89 annual fee, which is waived in the first year, you earn that back more than six times over with the bonus alone. The card also starts with a 12-month 0% introductory period for balance transfers. While it doesn’t offer the same purchase benefits as the Chase cards above, it makes earning and using travel rewards simple, easy, and straightforward. If you use it for your holiday shopping and earn that big bonus, you’ll have plenty of free travel ready to go. Your biggest problem will be deciding where to head next!
Citi® Double Cash
Most cards that offer a flat rate of cash back top out around 1.5%. But this card isn’t just any card. With Citi’s Double Cash, you get 1% cash back when you buy and another 1% when you pay your bill. That gives you an effective 2% cash back on every purchase. If you want cash back and don’t want to worry about the rotating bonus categories you see with Chase Freedom, this is arguably the best cash back card available today.
This card offers an impressive 18-month 0% APR introductory period, but don’t get tempted to build up balances you can’t afford to pay off in full. With the long 0% period, which includes balance transfers completed within four months of opening a new account, this is a good card for consolidating and paying off balances from other credit cards. It has no annual fee, but is light on benefits. This card is missing the valuable purchase protections from the two cards above. But outside of that, this is a great overall card and top option for cash back rewards.
Costco Anywhere Visa® by Citi
Any longtime Clark reader or listener knows that he’s a big fan of Costco. If you want to maximize what you get back when shopping at this warehouse club, the Costco Anywhere Visa® is an excellent companion. There is no annual fee with your paid Costco membership, and you can get up to 4% cash back on bonus categories. Earn 4% on gas purchases including Costco up to $7,000 per year, 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% at Costco and Costco.com, and 1% everywhere else. Depending on your shopping habits, that adds up to some big cash back.
This card includes 120-day purchase protection and extended warranties, which is great for a card with no annual fee. If you plan to do much of your holiday shopping at Costco, you’ll do well with this card’s 2% cash back and even more at some other popular categories. As a reminder, we only suggest using a credit card if you can pay it off in full each month. If that is a habit you can get into (or already have), the Costco Visa should serve you well.
More Clark.com Credit Card stories you might enjoy:
- Clark Howard: Here’s my philosophy on credit cards
- How to improve your credit score by 100 points in 30 days
- How to lower your credit card interest rate