Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

Looking to get the most rewards and benefits from your holiday shopping? We’re here to help! There’s not one card that fits all.  The best card for you depends on how you shop, where you shop, and whether you need added benefits like an extended return period and warranties.

While the Reward Summit app is the only way to truly determine the best card for each purchase and the best card(s) for your wallet, we can recommend three reward credit cards to get you started.  Here are our recommendations for the best credit cards for holiday shopping.

Discover IT

Discover IT
Perfect for shopping online until the end of December, the Discover IT card offers cardholders 5% cash back during the fourth quarter for all online purchases.  Similar to the Chase Freedom, this card offers 5% cash back on select categories each quarter, with 1% cash back on all other purchases.  We recommend getting the most benefit out of this card by shopping online during Black Friday for specials that are available online and for Cyber Monday.

Benefit Highlights: 
Discover IT also offers an extended warranty of up to one year on all on all items purchased with the card, with a warranty of 36 months or less.  An even greater benefit to holiday gift recipients, Discover cardholders enjoy an extended return period within 90 days of purchase for up to a $500 refund.  Cardholders can also earn an extra $100 if they spend $500 within the first three months of using the card.

Redemption Options: 

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through direct deposit, check by mail, or statement credit.
  • Merchandise - Cardholders can cash in their reward points for merchandise at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio at the 200 retailers in the Shop Discover credit card mall.  Purchases at Shop Discover earn cardholders 5-20% cash back.
  • Pay with Cash back –  Cardholders can pay certain retailers directly with rewards points, including Amazon, Facebook, and iTunes.
  • Gift Cards - Cardholders can redeem reward points with cash back partner gift cards at a better than 1 cent to 1 point ratio.  For example, a $50 gift card may only cost you the value of a $40 gift card (4,000 points).
  • Travel - Discover IT cardholders can choose among travel & tour deals, resort merchant deal, and cruise deals and get 5% cash back on these exclusive deals only available to Discover customers.

 Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom was meant for holiday shopping offering 5% cash back on Amazon purchases as well as select department stores during the fourth quarter (October 2013 – December 2013).  The credit card offers 5% back throughout the year on select categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases.   The 5% cash back can be applied to the following top department stores: JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, NORDSTROM, and Sears.

Benefit Highlights: Right now, new cardholders can get a $200 bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months.  We recommend using this car for in-store Black Friday specials at the department stores listed above and Amazon, as well as for Cyber Monday specials at Amazon.

Redemption Options: 

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through direct deposit, check by mail, or statement credit.
  • Merchandise – Cardholders can cash in their reward points for merchandise at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio.  So if an item costs $100 in the store, it will cost 10,000 points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards credit card mall.
  • Gift Cards – Much like merchandise rewards, cardholders can cash in reward points toward gift cards at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio, so a $100 gift card will cost 10,000 points.  However, through seasonal sales and promotions, cardholders can save 10-20% on gift cards from select retailers. For example, cardholders can currently get a $25 gift card to Lands End for the point equivalent of $20 (2,000 points) for a savings of 500 points.
  • Experiences – Cardholders can redeem rewards toward one-of-a-kind experiences such as wine tastings, movie premiers, sporting events, and VIP access to concerts.
  • Travel – Travel is easy to book with Chase Freedom reward points because there are no blackout dates and no restrictions on travel. Chase offers a 1:1 point transfer ratio.  Cardholders can use their Chase Freedom credit card, their accumulated points, or a combination of both when booking.

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred

American Express AmEx Blue Cash Preferred
This card is geared toward credit card users who spend a lot at grocery stores with 6% cash back up to $6,000 in a year. But this card also gets cardholders 3% back on gasoline and select department stores and 1 % back on all other purchases.  But the real highlight for shoppers is American Express’ extended return policy which may prove very valuable when gifting during the holidays.  Additionally, shoppers can get $10 cash back when they use any American Express Card to shop at participating retailers on Small Business Saturday, when they spend $10 or more. And of course, you’ll benefit if you’re in charge of the family’s holiday dinner when you checkout at the grocery store.

Benefit Highlights: 
Cardholders can get up to $300 per eligible returned item, for a maximum of up to $1,000 annually per card account with the extended return period benefit. Purchase protection covers items purchased with the card from accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days. Cardholders can also take advantage of an extended warranty up to one year on all items purchased with the card. New cardholders can earn a free $100 credit toward their statement when they spend $1,000 in the first three months with their card.  Additionally, upon approval, cardholders get a free year of Amazon Prime.

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through a statement credit.
  • Merchandise - Cardholders can purchase merchandise directly from the Member Rewards catalogue. Nerd Wallet estimates that card holders get anywhere from .5 to .9 cents per reward point.
  • Gift Cards -Cardholders can purchase gift cards directly from the Member Rewards catalogue at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio.
  • Travel - Points can be transferred to purchases hotel or airline reward points typically at a ratio of 1 point to 1 point, but redemption options differ with each partner so it’s important to read the fine print before transferring points.


By : Kelly Davis /November 27, 2013 /Credit Card Review, Reward Points /Comments Off

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