If you intend to spend on your friends' and family's happiness this season, you might as well do it in a way that makes you happy, too. And that keeps your wallet in good shape while you're at it.
Experts on credit cards and holiday shopping have some ideas about how to make that happen. Let’s look at the best options when it comes to credit cards that make it easier to say "Yes," and less likely to say "Oh no" when the bills arrive.
5 Cards for the Holidays
When we talk about credit cards for holiday shopping, we’re looking at three key criteria: bonuses for signing up, cash back and rewards, and low interest rates. You want to get the most back for what you spend.
Our experts include Bryan Marsden, personal-finance writer at FatWallet, and Matthew Goldman, founder and CEO of Wallaby Financial. Here’s what they recommend — both tapped the first three, and then we supply one additional pick from each.
Citi Dividend Platinum: This card offers a $100 bonus when you spend $500 in three months (for new members). You get 1% cash back on all purchases, with an additional 4% on a rotating list of product categories. For this holiday season, that bonus 4% applies to Best Buy, department stores, and toy stores. It also features 0% interest for 12 months for new sign ups.
Chase Freedom: This card also offers a $100 bonus for $500 spent in three months for new members. Add to that unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases, and an additional 4% on rotating categories (limited to $1500 spent for the quarter). For the holidays, that bonus applies to Amazon and select department stores. It sets 0% interest for 15 months for new sign ups.
Discover IT: This card doesn't have any fancy sign up bonuses, but it does offer 5% rewards on all online shopping, and 1% for all other purchases, which makes it a solid card for holiday shopping if you plan on doing a lot of it from your screen(s). It also starts at 0% interest for 12 months for new cardholders.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Marsden suggests this one for the sign-up bonus. New cardholders get a 40,000-point bonus for spending $3,000 in three months. It gives two points for every dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and then one point per dollar spent on everything else. Perks include 20% off hotels, airfare, car rentals, and cruises, if you book through the Chase Sapphire portal. Note the $95 annual fee after the first year.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard: Goldman suggests this one as a way to rack up points for future travel (after knocking off your holiday buying). Two miles per dollar on all purchases, and then a 10% bonus when you use those points for travel. That’s like 2.2% cash back, he says. Travel insurance comes with, and you get a free subscription to TripIt Pro (a mobile travel assistant app), Note the second-year annual fee: $89.With these kinds of perks and benefits, you should be able to go down your list and feel a lot better about the end results.
Whatever you do, make certain that you have a plan in place to make those monthly payments on time, so that the boost you feel from these cards aren’t overshadowed by buyer’s regret come April.