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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.

The holidays is a time for giving. It’s also when many of us turn to credit cards to pay for gifts, food and everything needed for this special time of year with family and friends.

What if you took control of your holiday spending before it got out of hand? It’s simple to do — and it starts with knowing your options.

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 with 0% intro APR
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$100
Welcome offer
Our pick for a holiday 0% intro APR credit card is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Not only will you enjoy a 15 months 0% intro APR followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%, but you can earn above-average cashback rewards at US supermarkets, US gas stations and select US department stores.
  • Intro APR period. Get 0% intro APR period on purchases for 15 months after you open your account. After that, a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.
  • Welcome offer. Earn $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first 6 months of card membership. Also earn 20% back on Amazon purchases on up to $150 total during that same time frame.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%. Plus, earn 2% back at US gas stations and select US department stores. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 2.7% of the amount.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value $200 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Best holiday card for everyday purchases
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 6%
Cash back
$150
Welcome offer
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has one of the biggest cashback rates on groceries around. You'll earn 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year before reverting to 1% cashback. Plus you earn 6% cashback on select US streaming services, perfect for when your family gathers to stream the burning of the yule log.
  • Cash back. Earn 6% back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and 1% after that. Earn 6% back on select US streaming services, 3% back at US gas stations and transit purchases, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Welcome offer. Earn $150 cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of account opening. Also earn 20% back on Amazon purchases on up to $200 total during that same time frame.
  • Intro APR period. Get 0% intro APR on purchases during your first 12 months. After, your APR reverts to 13.99% to 23.99% variable
  • Annual fee. There's a $95 annual fee after the initial intro period.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Best holiday card with no foreign transaction fees
Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 7x
Points
100,000
Points welcome offer
Our pick for a holiday credit card with no foreign transaction fees is the Hilton Honors American Express Card. On top of no foreign transaction fees, you can earn 100,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months and a $100 on your first eligible Hilton purchase made within your first 12 months. This welcome offer package is available until August 25, 2021. You'll also earn additional points on eligible categories. This makes it a great value card if you're traveling abroad for the holidays and stay at Hilton hotels.
  • Reward points. Earn 7x points on Hilton hotels and resorts 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations. All other purchases earn 3x points.
  • Welcome offer. Until August 25, 2021, earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. You can also earn a $1100 statement credit when you make your first eligible Hilton purchase within your first 12 months.
  • No foreign transaction fee. Use this card abroad or online with foreign merchants and you won't pay any foreign transaction fees.
  • No intro APR period. You don't get to save money with a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers. But this is a rare feature with travel cards anyway.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer 100,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels in the first 12 months. Offers expire 8/25/2021
Estimated welcome offer value $600 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best holiday cashback card
Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Our pick for a holiday cashback card is the Citi® Double Cash Card. You'll get 1% cashback on all holiday purchases and another 1% cashback when you pay it off. This makes it a great option if you never know just what sort of gifts you'll be purchasing this year.
  • Cash back. Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% back when you make the purchase and 1% back when you pay it off.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers. Get 18 months of 0% intro APR period on balance transfers after you open your account. After that, your APR reverts to 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • No annual fee. You get to earn all the cash back and save money with a balance transfer without paying an annual fee for the card.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Every transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 3% off the amount.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)

Best holiday credit card for poor credit
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (-)
Apply now
on Credit One Bank®'s secure site

Min. credit score
$99 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 1%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
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.
  • Potential for $0 annual fee. Annual fees range from $0 to $99, depending on creditworthiness.
  • Decent credit line. If you're approved for this card, you'll receive at least a $300 credit line.
  • Cash back. You'll earn 1% cash back in eligible categories based on Credit One's discretion. Categories may include gas, groceries, cable and satellite TV service, dining, mobile phone service, Internet service and more.
  • Foreign transaction fee. You'll pay a 3% fee of the amount on every transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants.
Annual Fee $75 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Purchase APR 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, groceries, mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services

Best holiday card for welcome offer
The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$695
Annual fee
Up to 10x
Points
100,000
Points welcome offer
This card offers a lucrative welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $6,000 in purchases in the first 6 months of account opening and earn 10x points at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the US, on up to $25,000 combined within your first 6 months. Under most circumstances, the welcome offer is a relatively large figure to reach. But your holiday travel and gifts are a perfect opportunity to knock out most or all of this requirement.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account opening. Plus 10x points at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases for your first 6 months.
  • Reward points. Earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked at American Express Travel. All other purchases earn 1x points.
  • Credits. Get $200 annual airline fee credit after you enroll, and redeem points for Uber gift cards at a value of 0.7 cents a point. There's also a $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, which you can use after you enroll. You'll also get a fee credit for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application once every four years and access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. You'll get a fee credit for your CLEAR membership every year and access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide.
  • Annual fee. The card will cost you $695 annually.
Annual Fee $695
Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer 100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
Estimated welcome offer value $7,000 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best holiday card for dining out
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 8%
Cash back
$300
Welcome offer
Our pick for holiday dining card is the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card credit card. This card earns an excellent unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. This card also comes with a few travel perks, such as no foreign transaction fees and travel insurance, making it a great choice if you also plan on traveling to meet your loved ones for the holidays.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Cash back. Earn unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment purchases, 8% back on Vivid seats until January 31, 2023, 5% cash back on Uber Eats until January 31, 2021, 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else you buy.
  • 8% back on Vivid Seats tickets. Earn 8% cash back on sporting event tickets from Vivid Seats purchase with this card. Use Vivid Seats to find MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL among other events. This offer expires January 2022.
  • Annual fee. For the first year, you'll pay $0 annual fee. But starting from the second year, there's a $95 annual fee.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Welcome offer $300 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 8% cash back on Vivid Seats until 1/31/2023 5% on Uber Eats, 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

Best holiday card for balance transfers
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card logo
Credit recommended (700-850)
Read review
700
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to x
N/A
n/a
Welcome offer
Our pick for a holiday balance transfer credit card is the HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card. This card sports one of the longest 0% intro APRs on purchases and balance transfers available at a hearty 18 months. After the intro period, you'll have a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Intro APR period. Get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months following your account opening. After that, a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee for the card.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants won't cost you a foreign transaction fee, which typically costs 3%.
  • No rewards. You won't earn any rewards on your purchases.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers

What’s changed in 2021

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card joined the list this year thanks to a serving as a great way to earn rewards during your holiday festivities and travel, including a more than solid 4% back on dining. It’s joined by the HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card, which offers a terrific 0% APR introductory period for those who need to carry a holiday balance.

Should I apply for a new credit card for the holidays?

First, 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.

When should I apply for a holiday credit card?

Generally, you should apply for your credit card when you intend to do the bulk of your shopping. Here are a few 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.
  • Application time. Depending on the issuer, it can take up to 10 days to find out if you’ve been approved for your card. Generally, you can expect to receive your credit card 7 to 10 business days after approval.

How to use a credit card for holiday shopping

Get the most out of your credit card this holiday season by taking advantage of your interest-free intro APR period. Cards that offer this feature can act as an interest-free loan for up to 18 months, which is enough to pay off large purchases.

If the same card offers rewards, that’s a huge plus. Also, make sure the card’s rewards align with your holiday spending patterns.

And finally, try to pay off your balance on time to avoid accruing interest if you don’t have an active 0% intro APR period offer. Follow these tips and enjoy your holiday shopping!

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.

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. Confirm each card’s typical interest rates for purchases and balance transfers. 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?

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
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle on up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back thereafter and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
A new cashback card that automatically awards 5% to your highest eligible spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 (then 1%).
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% cash back on up to $1,500 combined in quarterly categories you activate, 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% 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 get a store card for Christmas shopping

While many store cards are lacking compared to standard rewards cards, there are a few strong store cards out there that are useful for the Christmas holidays. These cards earn big rewards at stores you’re most likely to visit in the course of Christmas shopping, whether its for gifts, food or holiday decorations. If you’re interested in a store credit card, compare it carefully against other top-performing rewards cards on the market. With proper research, you may find a store card that fits your needs. But most consumers will be better served by a general rewards card during the holidays and beyond.

  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

  • Will my credit score drop when I apply for a new credit card?Yes, your credit score will likely decrease by a few points. This temporary drop is often quickly corrected with responsible spending and payments.
  • Do I need to make payments during my 0% APR period?Yes. With most cards, you must repay at least the minimum payment each month to avoid penalties — even during your interest-free period.
  • How does a balance transfer work?Generally, your current card provider asks for personal information and the details of your existing debt either with your application or soon after approval. Once approved, your new provider effectively pays off your old ones, transferring the balances to your new card.You’ll likely pay a fee of 3% to 5% of each balance you transfer. And transfers can take up to 10 days to process.
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