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Find the perfect credit card for Holiday shopping

Get rewards on spending, 0% APR and more when you shop for the holidays.

Holiday time is one of the best excuses to reach that signup bonus on your credit card, earn a pretty penny back on your gift purchases and take full advantage of all of the perks and niceties your credit card has to offer.

And despite a rough 2020, card providers introduced a slew of powerful cards or new bonuses to existing cards in 2021, meaning you have plenty of great choices for your holiday shopping. Here are Finder’s top picks for cards that can give you a financial edge on your holiday shopping.

Quick look: Best holiday credit cards

Best credit cards for holiday shopping

When choosing this year’s top holiday credit cards, we compared a number of factors potentially important to consumers, including balance transfer opportunities, introductory APRs, annual fees, welcome offers and any additional rewards or perks offered. We highlighted cards that stood out in one or more of these categories.

Best holiday card for 0% purchase APR

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Credit Card

The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Credit Card is a scrappy new cashback card from Wells Fargo that not only offers 2%cash back on all purchases, but a great 15 months 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, giving you great flexibility to save on interest for your holiday spending. Meanwhile, the card's biggest rival, the Citi Double Cash, only offers a 0% Intro APR on balance transfers.

Best holiday card for year-round value

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Finder rating 4.7 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a rotating category card that is offering an excellent 5% back on up to $1,500 spent on PayPal and Walmart purchases through the fourth quarter of 2021. However, the card also offers a few flat-rate categories, including 5% back on Chase travel and Lyft purchases, 3% back on restaurants and drugstores and 1% back on everything else. These are great earning rates and a valuable spread of categories, making this card one of the most effective rewards cards on the market.

Most flexible holiday cashback card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Finder rating 4.9 / 5 ★★★★★

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers the same level of earning you'd receive from a 5% rotating category card without the need to track and activate your earning categories each quarter. Notably, it also offers a few unusual earning categories, including home improvement and live entertainment, making it a great backup holiday card to fill in the gaps of another major earning card.

Best holiday credit card for poor credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Finder rating 3.5 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on Credit One Bank®'s secure site
Our pick for holiday credit card is the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit. This credit-building card earns 1% cash back on eligible purchases, pending Credit One's discretion. While these categories may not necessarily include the gifts you intend to buy for the holidays, they can include gas, groceries and other necessities you'll need throughout the holiday month.

Best holiday card for a big welcome offer

Citi Premier® Card

Finder rating 4.3 / 5 ★★★★★

The Citi Premier® Card has taken over the welcome offer throne for the holidays this year. While the Amex Platinum Card features a larger offer, it requires an enormous $10,000 of spending to hit that bonus, something many families likely won't hit during the holiday season alone. The Citi Premier® Card on the other hand offers 80,000 ThankYou points, which we value at $1,200, after a much more achievable $4,000 in spending.

Best holiday card for dining out

American Express® Gold Card

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
Amex transformed the Amex Gold Card over 2020 and 2021, solidifying it into the leading card on the market for earning rewards on dining and an excellent pick for groceries and travel. Considering the holidays includes all three of these things, the Amex Gold Card is a great investment for earning rewards on your holiday dining and beyond.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best holiday card for balance transfers

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

Our pick for a holiday balance transfer credit card is the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. If you're interested in purely saving on interest for existing debt or on new purchases, you won't find a more trusted card for doing so. And best of all the balance transfer period is one of the longest on the market at a sizable 21 months.

What’s changed in 2022

We had a near total shakeup of our best holiday card list this year, mostly thanks to a big year for new cards and escalating rewards and perks. In some cases, we also saw a return to form, such as the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card regaining its 21 months intro period.

When should I apply for a holiday credit card?

You should apply for your credit card just before when you intend to do the bulk of your shopping. Since it can take a few weeks to get approved for and receive your card, you want to apply a few weeks before you intend to start shopping. We recommend you apply about 20 days or so ahead of time. Here are a few other factors to consider:

  • Signup bonus periods. Most credit cards require you to meet the spending requirements for a signup bonus within a few months of opening your account. This means if you plan on shopping early in the year, you’ll want to apply appropriately.
  • Earning bonuses. Some rewards cards have a revolving selection of bonus categories throughout the year. The Chase Freedom Flex℠, for example, rotates to several stores common for holiday shopping during the last quarter of the year.

How do I compare holiday credit card offers?

Weigh key details of your credit card options, such as:

  • Intro APRs. Many cards offer an intro 0% APR on purchases, balance transfers or both. Note how long the intro offer lasts so you know how long you can wait to repay your debt without interest.
  • Interest rates. These rates apply as soon as any 0% APR periods end — and could add a lot to your credit card bill if you’re carrying a balance. This is important to know if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your holiday spending in full by the end of the intro period.
  • Annual fee. You can pay as low as $0 and as high as a few hundred dollars a year to use your card. Some cards reduce or waive your annual fee altogether for the first year.
  • Signup bonus. Many cards offer enticing bonuses just for signing up. These extra miles, points or cash back could mean hundreds of dollars for the holidays, if you qualify. Confirm the offer requirements, as you may need to spend a set amount in the first few months before you can get your bonus.
  • Earned rewards. When evaluating a rewards card, look at the cash back, points or miles you’ll earn for each dollar spent. Learn about any caps on rewards or spending, and browse the provider’s site to learn when and how you can redeem your rewards.
  • The extras. Complimentary travel insurance, extended warranties, airport lounge access and concierge services can help you get more value from your card. Think carefully about whether you’ll use them, and weigh them against any annual fee or other costs.
  • Is it worth using after the holidays? While you’ll be using this card during the holidays shopping season, is it a card you would consider using afterward? For example, are the rewards rates good year-round and do they align with your spending habits? Or will you use the reward points in the future?

Ideas for managing holiday credit card debt

Keep the warm, fuzzy spirit of the holidays alive well into the new year with tips to staying on top of your spending and budget.

  • Make large payments right away. Especially helpful if you have a 0% APR period, paying off as much as you can each month reduces the balance that accrues interest after your intro rate ends.
  • Set goals you can reach. It can take only a month or two to land into holiday debt, but it can take longer to get out. Create a budget to schedule consistent payments to get you back on your feet quickly.

Compare holiday shopping credit cards

The best holiday shopping credit cards are those that offer some combination of strong rewards, a valuable welcome offer, or a helpful intro APR on purchases. Compare some of our favorite picks for Black Friday to find an option that fits your needs.

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
10x miles on hotel and rental car purchases booked through Capital One Travel, 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 2x miles on every other purchase

16.99% to 23.99% variable
$395
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
26.99% variable
$39
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% on drugstore purchases
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and 1% on all other purchases.
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 24.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
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Should I apply for a new credit card for the holidays?

Before you apply for a new card, re-evaluate your existing credit cards. Do they provide the tools you need for your upcoming holiday shopping? If not, here’s what to consider:

  • Do you want to pay off your purchases over time? If your current credit card doesn’t have an intro APR period on purchases, consider applying for a card that does. As an alternative, you can use your current credit card to make large purchases and later apply for a balance transfer card. Once you move your balance to your new card, you can enjoy an interest-free period to pay off your debt.
  • Do you want to earn rewards? If your current cards don’t have a rewards program, now is the time to consider applying for such a card. If you intend to use your card for everyday purchases, a cashback card would be a good choice; if you travel often, a travel credit card should be at the top of your list.
  • Have you cleared the signup bonus? If you have already earned the signup bonus on your current credit card, now you have the chance to do it again with your new card. You’ll rarely find a time of the year where it’s easier to hit the spending limits required for signup bonuses and earn extra rewards than during the holidays.

Should I get a store card for Christmas shopping

Generally, most consumers are best served by a general rewards card during the holidays and beyond.
However, there are a few store cards out there that can earn big rewards at the stores you’re most likely to visit in the course of Christmas shopping, whether its for gifts, food or holiday decorations. Here are some of the more valuable cards available.

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. This card earns great rewards on Amazon purchases, which many consumers turn to for Black Friday and Christmas sales
  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. This card is a Gas and Costco powerhouse, perfect for bulk holiday shopping and holiday travel
  • Sam's Club® Mastercard®. This card is neck and neck with the Costco card and is an equally excellent option if you prefer Sam’s Club to Costco.
  • Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®. The card’s intro offer is a strong opportunity for rewards during Christmas and Black Friday, especially when you’re on the hunt for door-buster sales
  • Target REDcard™ Credit Card. On top of the card’s big earning potential, you get several handy perks that are useful for the holidays, including free two-day shipping and a greater window for returns and exchanges
  • Gap Visa® Credit Card. While the signup bonus isn’t the greatest, the Gap card is useful for the holidays as it earns additional points at all Gap brands, and grants Silver status after you earn 5,000 bonus points, which can boost your Christmas earning potential on clothing.

Bottom line

A new credit card can help you get through the holidays. But before you apply, consider what you’re looking for — whether that’s cash back, a low-interest intro period, no foreign transaction fees, no annual fee or other rewards.

Compare your credit card options to narrow down the right card to guide you through the yuletide season.

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