Some credit cards offer cash back, low interest rates, or big rewards during the holiday shopping season. Ahead, our picks for the best credit cards to use for holiday shopping (and one credit card to skip).
37% of consumers say they use credit cards to finance holiday spending. If you're going to use plastic for holiday shopping, pick a card that offers real benefits you can use, like one of our picks, below:
Best Credit Card for Cash Back: Got a long Christmas list? That's OK! The Citi Double Cash card gives 2 percent cash back (1 percent when you buy something, 1 percent when you pay) on each purchase. Unlike some cash-back cards, there's no limit on how much money you can earn in a year, plus you don't need to register online to receive your rewards.
Best Credit Card for Lower Credit Ratings: Don't let a less-than-stellar credit rating dampen your holiday fun. The CapitalOne Secured MasterCard can help you repair your numbers. Put down a minimum security deposit of $49 and receive a card that regularly reports your usage to all three major credit bureaus and gives you free access to your credit score. Need a larger limit? Add to your deposit and you could get a line of credit as high as $3,000.
Best Credit Card for Bonus Points: Hey, why should family and friends be the only ones getting something? The Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you 40,000 bonus points–the equivalent of $400 ($500 if you use the card to book travel) when you charge $4,000 in the first three months. (Tip: To reach the requirement, use the card to pay monthly bills.) You also can transfer your points to participating travel programs and earn double points on travel and dining purchases.
Best Credit Card for Easy Refunds:If you have a lot of finicky family members on your Christmas list, you might want to check out the Discover Card Return Guarantee program. It's one of the best around, offering refunds of up to $500 per item (a maximum of $2,500 per account annually) if a store doesn't accept your return within 90 days of purchase. Keep in mind: You'd need to submit a signed claim form, your Discover card statement and the sales receipt, plus pay for the postage to return the item.
Best Credit Card for Low Interest: If buying gifts for your nearest and dearest costs more than the discretionary portion of your monthly budget, consider the Chase Freedom card. It gives you 15 months to pay off your balance before you start accruing interest. What's more, there's a cash-back component: Earn 1 percent on every purchase and 5 percent in rotating bonus categories.
Best Credit Card for Price-Matching: Don't you hate it when you nab something at a great price–only to discover it's being sold for less somewhere else? Good news: Cardholders of all Citi credit cards are protected by Price Rewind, a service that scours retail offers online and refunds the difference if it finds a better deal within 60 days.
Best Credit Card for People Who Hate Extra Fees: Unlike most credit cards, the Citi Simplicity MasterCard won't hit you with a lot of nasty fees, so you don't get dinged for paying by phone or making a late payment. Also pretty nice: You get a 0 percent introductory annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months.
Best Credit Card for Purchase Protection: Stolen laptop? Busted blender? No worries. Use an American Express card to buy the latest products and you'll get up to one year of coverage added to the manufacturer's warranty, gratis. Purchase Protection also helps guard against theft and accidental damage for up to 90 days from the date of purchase–so your kid's new smartphone is covered even if he drops it in the snow.
And the Credit Card to Skip: It's practically inevitable: Sometime during the next several weeks a salesperson probably will try to lure you into signing up for a store credit card. Resist, even if you're being offered something sweet in exchange (say, a 15 percent discount on your current purchase). Apply only after you've researched the terms and conditions. And keep in mind: Getting a store's card makes sense only if you're a frequent shopper there. Most such cards have hefty interest rates, so if you get one, don't carry a balance.