Recently Card Hub today announced its picks for the Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping in order to give consumers enough time to maximize their savings during one of the most expensive times of the year.
$749.51. That is the amount, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), that the average consumer will spend on gifts this holiday season. However, the savviest consumers can lower their tab by up to $500 simply by taking advantage of the right credit card offer. More specifically, people can save by applying for a new credit card and/or leveraging an existing one.
The best cards to apply for this holiday season, selected from more than 1,000 total offers, are listed below, along with the consumer need for which they are most apt and insight from Card Hub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, a former senior director in Capital One’s credit card division:
• Earning an Initial Rewards Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Provides 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 during the first three months. That’s equal to $500 in travel or a $400 statement credit. It does not charge an annual fee during the first year ($95 thereafter).
Odysseas Papadimitriou (OP): “Ever since the Great Recession, credit card issuers have been aggressively offering rewards bonuses in order to garner the business of cardholders who maintained excellent credit throughout the financial downturn. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers the best initial bonus on the market, and by using it for holiday spending, you’ll be able to either replenish your bank account soon thereafter or subsidize travel over spring break or summer vacation.”
• Best for Earning Rewards During the Holidays & Beyond: Blue Cash Preferred from American Express – Offers 6% cash back at supermarkets (up to a $6,000 annual limit), 3% at gas stations, 3% at department stores, and 1% on everything else. The $150 initial bonus it provides cardholders who spend at least $1,000 during the first three months also serves to cancel out two years’ worth of the $75 annual fee this card charges.
(OP): “In my opinion, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is the best everyday rewards card for people who aren’t frequent travelers. It offers extremely attractive rewards in most people’s biggest spending categories, which means you can save on all of your shopping and automobile gas not only during the holidays when these costs might be inflated, but throughout the rest of the year as well.”
• Best for Avoiding Interest on Holiday Purchases: Citi Diamond Preferred Card – Offers 0% on new purchases for 18 months and has a regular rate between 11.99% and 21.99%, based on creditworthiness. It doesn’t charge an annual fee.
(OP): “We all want to make sure that our loved ones have the happiest possible holidays, and for a lot of us that means shelling out a few hundred dollars for gifts. If you don’t foresee being able to foot the entire bill within the month, you might want to apply for a card that won’t start charging you interest for a while because the last thing you want is for your gift-giving tab to be inflated by a high interest rate that prevents you from swiftly getting out of your holiday debt.”
• Best for Lowering the Cost of Debt: Slate Card from Chase – Offers 0% on balance transfers for 15 months and doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee or an annual fee. The savings you can derive from this card could even be enough to cover all of your holiday shopping expenses.
(OP): “The average household has roughly $6,700 in credit card debt, and that figure is sure to rise during the expensive holiday shopping season. It’s therefore obvious that a 0% balance transfer offer can save a lot of folk time and money paying down what they owe. The Slate Card is the best balance transfer credit card on the market in light of its long 0% intro period and lack of fees, which combined may provide savings of more than $1,000. An interesting strategy that some consumers might want to try this holiday season is to use one of the best rewards cards for holiday spending and then transfer their debt to the Slate Card. This would enable you to effectively garner the best possible rewards on the market as well as the best possible 0% balance transfer deal.”
• Best for Short-Term Discounts: JCPenney Card – Gives new cardholders 20% off apparel, shoes, handbags, and fashion jewelry and 10% off fine jewelry, watches, and home merchandise purchased the day of approval.
(OP): “Store cards are interesting in the sense that while they can only be used at the stores to which they are affiliated and are easier to get approved for than normal credit cards, they often provide very attractive initial discounts. When you can get up to 20% off purchases at a store like JCPenney, you’re therefore able to save on pretty much your entire holiday shopping list. The key to maximizing your savings is to plan all of your holiday purchases and make as many of them as possible on the same day you apply for the card.”
In addition, the following major credit card issuers are offering special holiday promotions for existing cardholders:
• American Express: Not only can Amex cardholders redeem points for select merchandise at a 20% discount through Nov. 30, but they can also receive a $25 statement credit for spending at least $25 at qualified small businesses on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24).
• Bank of America: Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on purchases made at department stores, electronic stores, toy stores, sporting stores, and book stores through December 31 as well as take advantage of gift card deals and travel discounts throughout the holiday season.
• Capital One: Capital One offers cardholders deals through its mobile banking application and its online shopping portal, Perk Central.
• Chase: Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink cardholders can book rewards airfare or hotel accommodations without restrictions, earn bonus points for holiday gift shopping at the Ultimate Rewards Mall, or use existing points to redeem for unique experiences, such as a meet and greet with the Radio City Rockettes. Chase Freedom cardholders with Ultimate Rewards will also receive 10 or 20% off select gift cards purchased with points through Ultimate Rewards. Finally, Chase cardholders can now use their Ultimate Rewards points to pay for millions of items on Amazon.com in the same way they would use any other payment method.
• Discover: October 1 – December 31, Discover cardmembers can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in department store and online purchases by signing up either online or over the phone. November 1 – January 10, 2013, ShopDiscover will highlight 70-plus merchants through which consumers can earn increased cash back on purchases. Discover cardmembers planning to shop on Amazon.com will receive a 5% cash back bonus on all items purchased up to $1,500, Free one-day shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S., and the ability to pay with cash back directly at the point-of-sale.
• USAA: Between Nov. 18 and Dec. 28, using a USAA credit card will automatically enter you for a chance to win a $1,500 weekly prize and a $50,000 grand prize.
For more information on all of the above promotions, please visit: Cardhub.com