Best Credit Cards For The Holidays
Before we go through the roster, a cautionary note. A good credit card can significantly ease the burden of your holiday expenses, but it shouldn't replace proper planning and budgeting. All the introductory purchase rates, cash back offers, and travel rewards won't outweigh the interest rate you will incur if you maintain an outgoing balance. It can be tempting to go on a spending spree when you're using plastic and not dealing with cash. However, you should never spend more than you can afford. You may find yourself buried in high-interest debt, and that “gift” is even worse than coal in your stocking.
Here are some of the deals offered by our holiday options:
Introductory Interest OffersSome providers offer up to 21 months of 0% APR. That means you won't pay any interest on your purchases within the 21-month period, effectively an interest-free loan. You still have to pay off your balance within the interest-free period to avoid incurring charges further down the line.
Cash Back RewardsThe basic premise here is that when you spend money, you get a certain percentage back, usually in the form of a deposit to your account or a check/bank deposit at the end of the year. Providers that offer cash back usually cover rotating categories throughout the year. For example, cash back rewards might cover purchases at gas stations during the first quarter of the year, while the second quarter could be restaurants or even online shopping merchants such as Amazon.
Travel RewardsYour holiday purchases can help you rack up bonus miles with a travel reward plan. The best options don't just offer generous rewards, but also flexibility in how you can use them. If you want to accumulate travel miles quickly, it's best to use options that offer high rewards for the types of goods and services upon which you spend the most money.
Signup Cash BonusesProviders know that a little extra cash never hurts. That's why many offer cash back bonuses as a reward for signing up and trying their products. There's usually a minimum spending requirement within a specified time frame to trigger the cash back bonus, but that's about the only limitation.
For example, a provider may offer a $150 cash back bonus if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
Balance Transfer OffersSome providers allow you to transfer an existing balance to them from one of your other cards and enjoy a period of no interest. If you want to reduce the amount you are spending on interest for a pre-existing debt, this option might be for you! Just be careful not to accumulate additional debt once you have transferred the balance. Your payments will end up paying off the 0% balance and not your purchases, which will inevitably accrue interest of their own.
The Best Holiday PicksThese cards offer holiday-ready cash back rewards, introductory interest rate options, and signup bonuses. You'll find links to their web pages at the end of this article!
Chase FreedomThe Chase Freedom is a great choice for holiday shoppers! It offers a $150 cash signup bonus and 5% cash back on purchases in selected categories each quarter (with unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases). There's also no annual fee and 0% APR on your purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
$150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first three months
No annual fee
0% APR for 15 months on purchases (a variable APR of 15.99% - 24.74% afterwards) 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers (5% balance transfer fee and a variable APR of 15.99% - 24.74% afterward)
5% cash back on selected categories each quarter – like gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases
Cashback rewards never expire
Automatic purchase protection that covers against damage or theft for up to 120 days (maximum of $500 per claim)
Extended warranty protection that offers one year extra on qualifying warranties of three years or less