Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

You can stretch your holiday dollars by shopping with the right credit card.
Kimberly PalmerNov 27, 2021

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The holidays tend to be a busy time for credit cards, with many Americans using them to purchase gifts. While some shoppers are looking to leverage cards to earn rewards and cash back for their purchases, others are focused on financing their holiday spending with a 0% intro APR offer.

Whether you fall into the first or second category, here are some of our picks for the best credit cards for holiday shopping:

Top credit cards for holiday shopping

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Our pick for: Maximum flexibility

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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Card details

Rewards: Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Sign-up bonus: New! Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99%-24.99% Variable APR.

Why we like it

The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card offers a very appealing 2% cash back on all purchases, which is a helpful way to stretch your budget while doing all of your holiday shopping. You don’t need to worry about opting into rotating categories or earning different rewards rates depending on where you shop — you can just focus on your gift selections. The fact that it also comes with a bonus offer and no interest on top makes the card even sweeter.

Drawbacks

The card’s simplicity also comes with a downside: You won’t earn higher rewards in certain categories as you do on other cards. It’s also possible to find a longer no-interest promo period elsewhere (see below).

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

Our pick for: Shoppers looking for financing help

Wells Fargo Reflect Card
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Card details

Rewards: None.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then an ongoing APR of 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods.

Why we like it

If you’re looking for help financing your holiday purchases over the next year and a half, then this offer is hard to beat. The fact that the intro APR can get extended for an additional three months makes it even more appealing.

Drawbacks

The lack of rewards or sign-up bonus means that after the introductory period is over, this card has little to offer.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Our pick for: Shoppers willing to spend time maximizing their rewards

Chase Freedom Flex
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Card details

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter. Activation of bonus categories is required. (See the quarterly 5% bonus calendar below.)

  • 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3% cash back on dining, including takeout and delivery services.

  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.

  • For all cardholders, through March 31, 2022, 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2021

Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)

• Wholesale clubs. • Select streaming services. • Internet, cable and phone services.

Q2 (April 1-June 30)

• Gas stations. • Home improvement stores.

Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)

• Grocery stores. • Select streaming services.

Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)

• Walmart. • PayPal.

Sign-up bonus:  Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99%-24.74% Variable APR.

Why we like it

This card comes with so many bonus categories that it’s easy to feel like you're maximizing your cash-back opportunities: In addition to the fixed bonus categories of travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, dining and drugstore purchases, you can also activate rotating bonus categories, such as Walmart and PayPal. During the holiday season, those Q4 picks are especially valuable. The sign-up bonus is also solid and relatively easy to earn, especially during the holiday season.

Drawbacks

The elaborate nature of this card’s 5% categories also requires some work: You have to activate the rotating categories each quarter. And if the options don’t match up with what you’re spending on, then it’s probably not a good fit.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Our pick for: Shoppers who plan to spend big at home improvement stores

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
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Card details

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your highest spend category per billing cycle (from a list of eligible options).

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR.

Why we like it

If you’re buying gifts in one of the card’s 10 bonus categories, which spans home improvement stores and restaurants (see the review for a full list), then the card could be a good fit for you this season. Many of the bonus categories also align with everyday spending, including grocery stores, gas stations and drugstores, so it’s also a useful card for everyday spending year-round. It also comes with a generous sign-up bonus.

Drawbacks

The 5% cash-back rate comes with a $500 cap each billing cycle, so you are limited on what you will earn with this card, and that rate applies to only one of the 10 categories.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Our pick for: Shoppers who value convenience

Citi® Double Cash Card
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Card details

Rewards: 2% cash back on purchases, including:

  • 1% cash back for every dollar spent.

  • 1% cash back for every dollar paid off.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR.

Why we like it

The ease of earning 2% cash back (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for the purchase) on everything is appealing, especially during the holidays. You don’t have to opt into different bonus categories or even think about when to use the card, since it always earns the same rate. Another plus of this card is the intro APR balance transfer offer, but it’s worth noting that for new purchases, the ongoing APR applies.

Drawbacks

With this card, you’ll miss out on the higher rewards rate that other cards earn in bonus categories. It also lacks a sign-up bonus.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Our pick for: Shoppers who order most of their gifts from Amazon

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
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Card details

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.

  • 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Amazon occasionally offers gift cards of varying amounts upon approval.

Annual fee: $0, but you must be an Amazon Prime member. Membership costs $119 annually ($59 a year for students).

APR: The ongoing APR is 14.24%-22.24%, Variable.

Why we like it

If you’re already an Amazon Prime member and frequent Amazon shopper, then it’s hard to beat the rewards offered through this card. Around the holidays, you might be planning to spend even more than usual at Amazon if the mega-retailer will be your primary source for gifts, making the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card even more valuable. Another benefit is that you’ll also earn 5% back at Whole Foods, which can be useful if you’re hosting family and friends around the holidays.

Drawbacks

If you aren’t a heavy Amazon shopper, then you’ll find better rewards with other cards that aren’t as Amazon-centric.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Our pick for: Shoppers loyal to Target

Target REDcard™ Credit Card
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Card details

Rewards: 5% discount on all eligible Target purchases.

Other benefits:

  • Exclusive offers, gifts and early access to promotions.

  • Free standard shipping (and free two-day shipping on qualifying items).

  • 30 days of extra time to return purchases.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 22.90% Variable.

Why we like it

If you shop a lot at Target and plan to buy a lot of your gifts there, then the Target REDcard™ Credit Card is for you: Not only can you enjoy the ongoing 5% discount, but you also get other perks like extra time to make returns, which is especially useful around the holidays. You may also receive a 10% discount awarded every cardholder anniversary when you sign up for Target marketing emails.

Drawbacks

This card is useful only at Target, so if you plan to spread out your holiday purchases to a wider array of stores, you’ll need a different card. Also, the card lacks any true intro APR promotions, so if you’re looking for financing help, you’ll want to turn elsewhere.

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