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Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
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Chase Sapphire Preferred®
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60,000 bonus points – worth up to $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Credit Cards

Best credit cards for holiday shopping

The cost of gift buying can add up, but these credit cards can save you money on everything from electronics to clothing.

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Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the earlier you shop this year the better. Before you starting crossing gifts off of your list, consider how you plan to pay for them. A rewards credit card is a simple and effective way to earn cash back or points on all of your gift purchases.

With the best credit cards, you can earn between 2% to 6% cash back (or 2X to 6X points) on popular gifts, as well as food to fuel your holiday festivities.

To make your holiday shopping experience a bit more affordable, check out these 10 cards that reward everything from electronics and clothing to groceries and takeout.

Best credit cards for holiday shopping

Best cards for holiday shopping FAQs

Best for general shopping

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn't require activation or spending caps
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Minimum cash-back redemption of $25
  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $443
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,213

Best for Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com and Best Buy

Discover it® Cash Back

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

  • Welcome bonus

    Dollar-for-dollar match of all cash back earned the first year

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for 14 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    11.99% - 22.99% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good / Excellent

Pros

  • Cash-back program
  • Generous welcome bonus

Cons

  • Cash-back categories must be activated each quarter
  • Cash-back program limits earnings: Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back in various categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $707
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,120

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Best for Apple products

Apple Card

Information about the Apple Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3% cash back on goods or services purchased directly from Apple (including Apple retail stores, the Apple online store, the App Store, iTunes, Apple Music and other Apple-owned properties) on Uber and UberEats, at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores, on the Walgreens app and on Walgreens.com, in T-Mobile stores, at Nike, at Exxon and Mobil stations and at Panera Bread, 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    10.99% to 21.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 3% cash back on goods or services purchased directly from Apple, on Uber and UberEats, at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores, on the Walgreens app and on Walgreens.com and in T-Mobile stores and at Nike
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • No late payment fee

Cons

  • Apple Pay isn’t accepted everywhere
  • Purchases with the physical card only earn 1% cash back
  • No special financing offers or welcome bonus
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $231
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,156

To calculate the rewards you could earn using your Apple Pay card, we assumed that cardholders will use Apple Pay for 70% of their purchases at a rate of 2% cash back, since 70% of all merchants accept Apple Pay, according to an Apple spokesperson. We also assumed the cardholder would use the physical Apple Card for the other 30% of their purchases at a rate of 1% cash back. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Best for department stores

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on two categories you choose quarterly (on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter, then 1%); 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on everything else

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable*

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

*See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 5% cash back on select entertainment purchases, when you activate bonus categories
  • Low spending required to earn a good welcome bonus

Cons

  • 5% cash back is limited to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Activation is required to earn 5% cash back
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $478
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,790

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Best for wholesale clubs

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0, Costco membership required

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Generous gas rewards
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Reasonable 15.24% variable APR

Cons

  • Costco membership is required
  • Rewards are distributed once a year and can only be redeemed at U.S. Costco Warehouses
  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $406
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,031

Best for entertainment

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases; N/A on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 24.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases
  • 8% cash back on all Vivid Seats ticket purchases through January 2022
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Cable, digital streaming and membership services are excluded from the 4% cash-back rate
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $588
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,741

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Best for restaurants, takeout and delivery

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    See rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong rewards program with 4X points earned on dining worldwide and 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • Up to $120 in dining credits at participating partners and up to $100 hotel credit
  • Baggage insurance plan covers up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage that is damaged, lost or stolen
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No introductory APR period
  • $250 annual fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,074
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,969

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Best for groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
  • A year of no interest on new purchases

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $774
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2492

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Best welcome bonus

Chase Freedom Flex℠

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in select categories upon activation
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $814
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,647

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Best for intro 0% APR period

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 20 months of no interest on balance transfers and purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Cell phone protection plan

Cons

  • No rewards program
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening

Best cards for holiday shopping FAQs

What credit score do you need to get a rewards card?

Rewards credit cards often require good or excellent credit. Make sure you check your credit score before applying for one of these cards.

How to choose a rewards credit card

There are hundreds of rewards credit cards available, making it tricky to settle on the right one. It's important to take some time to choose the best card for your holiday shopping needs and long-term purchases.

All of the cards on this list are great to use throughout the entire year, so make sure you look at your past purchase history as a whole before settling on one card. You may even want to consider applying for multiple cards to maximize rewards.

First, decide if you're willing to pay an annual fee for a card, since this can help narrow down choices. Rewards cards have annual fees ranging from $0 to $550, which gives you the flexibility to choose the card that makes sense for your budget. Do the math to see if an annual fee is within your budget and if it can be outweighed by the card's benefits.

Next you should figure out what type of rewards you want to earn, and if you want a simple rewards program or one that may require some work. If you want a straightforward option, consider a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers a flat cash back rate on all purchases.

If you want to maximize rewards in common spending categories, such as dining and groceries, consider bonus rewards cards that offer over 2%/2X back on certain eligible purchases and may require activation. (Learn how credit card issuers classify purchases for bonus rewards.)

Beyond rewards, review the added card perks, such as annual statement credits and 0% APR periods, that can provide extra value.

Learn more: How to choose the best credit card in 3 easy steps

How to make the most of your rewards card during the holidays

Make sure you understand all the benefits your card offers, including the rewards rates, statement credit offers, shopping discount tools and intro 0% APR periods.

Once you're familiar with the terms of your card, you can start to take full advantage of them. If you have a premium card like the American Express® Gold Card, set reminders to use the monthly $10 dining credit. Amex, Bank of America and Chase cardholders can activate various shopping discounts at apparel and dining retailers so you can earn extra rewards or statement credits.

And many of the cards mentioned above like the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card include intro 0% APRs that allow you to pay for purchases over time, without expensive interest charges.

Best credit cards for holiday shopping

Category General shopping Amazon.com; Target.com and Walmart.com Apple products Department stores Wholesale clubs Entertainment Restaurants; takeout and delivery Groceries Welcome bonus Intro 0% APR period
Credit Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Discover it® Cash Back
Apple Card
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
American Express® Gold Card
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Chase Freedom Flex℠
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
See below for our methodologyLearn MoreOn Citi's secure siteLearn MoreOn Discover's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the Apple Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.Learn MoreInformation about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.Learn MoreOn Citi's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.Learn MoreOn the American Express secure siteLearn MoreOn the American Express secure siteLearn MoreOn Chase's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Cash Back, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.