The holiday season is a source of financial stress for many households. As gifts for kids and adults become increasingly tech oriented, the price tags on the season’s hottest and most popular gifts only continue to rise, putting greater strain on already tight budgets.
While turning to credit cards to make holiday purchases isn’t the best idea for all shoppers, it can actually be quite beneficial for those who know how to spend within their budget. Most who use credit cards this holiday season will turn to 0% interest credit cards to save a few bucks on interest as they carry balances into 2012. However, if you have a detailed budget planned to make sure you never pay any interest charges on credit card purchases, there are actually several holiday cards that offer more benefits than the typical 0% interest promotion.
Some of the best cards to use for holiday shopping include:
Citi Dividend Platinum
The Citi Dividend Platinum Visa seems to have been created with holiday shoppers in mind. This card offers up to 5 percent cash back on many common purchases, and even a bonus cash back offer until March 2012.
If you know that you will be spending quite a bit in retail shops, dining establishments, and movie theaters, then you may want to consider the Chase Freedom credit card. Cardholders can receive 5 percent cash back at all the aforementioned locations as long as they don’t exceed $1,500. New cardholders are even able to receive $200 cash back if they spend $500 or more within the first three months of acquiring the card.Check out the Chase Freedom® Visa – $100 Bonus Cash Back offer.
Do you like to use one card to do all of your spending? Then the Chase Sapphire® Card is probably for you. The Ultimate Rewards program puts you in an elite group that grants you special VIP access to some amazing experiences. Not only that, but the rewards program is one of the most generous in the industry. Here’s what you get:
- Earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – that`s $250 toward a flight or any other reward!
- 2 points per dollar spent on dining & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Points never expire and there are no limits on how many points you can earn
- Redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, cash back and more
- 24/7 direct access to expert service advisors (No voice recording)
- No annual fee! Apply Now!
The Discover® It is a good option to use during the holiday season as it offers rewards at places visited most during shopping: restaurants, department stores, clothing stores, and Amazon.com. For shoppers swiping their card while dining out or at clothing or department stores, they can earn 5 percent cash back through December on $300 in purchases a month. Shoppers can also earn 2 percent cash back on purchases up to $250 a month when shopping at Amazon.com. In addition, there is no annual fee associated with this card, which makes it a great long-term addition to your wallet. Other features include:
- 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then the variable standard purchase APR of 10.99% – 20.99%*
- 5% Cashback Bonus® in categories that change like gas, restaurants, department stores and more. Limitations apply*
- Up to 20% Cashback Bonus at popular retailers when you shop online through Discover.com
- Discover is ranked #1 in customer loyalty–15 years in a row! (2011 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index report)
- 24/7 access to a U.S.-based Account Manager within 60 seconds
- $0 Fraud Liability plus automatic mobile and email fraud alert options
- Great rewards with no annual fee, no rewards redemption fee, and no additional card fee
- *Click apply to view rates, fees, rewards, limitations and other important information Apply Now!
Blue Cash Everyday American Express Card
If you know that you will be doing a lot of driving or cooking this holiday season, the Blue Cash Everyday(SM) Card from American Express may be the best card for you to use. In addition to offering 1 percent cash back on all purchases, the card offers double points when used at gas stations and triple points when used at grocery stores. In addition, there is no cash-back limit and no annual fee associated with the card, and cardholders receive the first 6 months interest free. Check out my American Express Blue Cash review for more detailed information.
Holiday shopping is often one of the most stressful and financially straining tasks of the holiday season, but if done responsibly, can actually be quite rewarding. Consumers who plan to use their rewards credit cards frequently during holiday shopping will enjoy some amazing benefits like signup bonuses, cash back, and miles worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And even if you don’t have good enough credit to get approved for one of the best rewards credit card this year, you can always plan on making your holiday purchases with credit cards for bad credit in order to start rebuilding your personal credit as you enter into the new year.
Regardless of which type of credit card you choose to use this holiday season, always remember to practice responsibility first. Create a budget before you begin spending, and also be sure to create an adequate repayment plan so that you can avoid high interest rates and strapping your monthly budget well into next year. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not become a financial crisis, and good financial practices can ensure that your holidays stay bright.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.