The holiday season is right around the corner, and it never hurts to get prepared early. Making your shopping and travel plans well in advance could save you big bucks.
Case in point: Applying for the right credit card now could result in serious rewards earning that you can leverage into purchasing gifts, trips to visit family and more. Looking for a few suggestions? Here are some of the Nerds’ top picks:
If you’re a big department store shopper: Chase Freedom®
|Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2017|
|Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)||Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)|
|Q2 (April 1 - June 30)||Grocery stores and drugstores|
|Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)||Restaurants and movie theaters|
|Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)||"Holiday" (details TBA)|
Remember, the Chase Freedom® charges an annual fee of $0 and will get you started with a small signup bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. That’s a nice little cash boost you can use to buy more gifts for loved ones if you’d like, or maybe even a little treat for yourself.
If you’re a big online shopper: Discover it® - Cashback Match™
|DISCOVER BONUS CATEGORIES FOR 2017|
|Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)||Gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs|
|Q2 (April 1 – June 30)||Home improvement stores and wholesale clubs|
|Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)||Restaurants|
|Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)||Amazon.com and Target|
If you shop through Discover Deals, you’ll have the opportunity to earn even more cash back at select retailers.
Also, if you plan on taking longer than a month to pay off your holiday gifts, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ will give you 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. That’s a long time at 0%, so you don’t have to worry about racking up interest on your holiday spending.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ provides all these great features with an annual fee of $0.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling for the holidays: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
With this card, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. Since each mile is worth $.01, you’re getting a rewards rate of 2%. However, you get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem, which effectively drives the rewards rate up to 2.1%. That’s pretty generous, given that the industry standard is only 1%.
When it comes time to redeem rewards, you have the flexibility to go online and book your travel as you normally would, then pay yourself back with your miles in the form of a statement credit. Whether you’ll be flying cross-country to see relatives for Thanksgiving or going on a cruise to celebrate the New Year, the miles earned with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® can help foot the bill.
Plus, you’ll start off with a killer signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit. This could go a long way toward helping pay for your holiday travel if you complete the spending requirement quickly. Remember, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® does charge an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $89. But since this card will go far in helping you visit loved ones far and wide this holiday season, we think that’s a small price to pay!
Holiday shopper image via Shutterstock