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The Target RedCard is my favorite card for holiday shopping—here’s why

The Target RedCard is the rare credit card that gives you an instant 5% discount at checkout, making it my favorite card to maximize holiday savings.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 22 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Wiig as Target cashier, Justin Timberlake as Peg during the "Target" skit on May 9, 2009

As I’ve grown older and retailers have come and go, one shopping destination continues to remain constant for all of my needs: Target. Whether it’s grabbing a block of cheese for nachos or a new workout shirt, I always find a reason to go on a Target run.

With the upcoming holiday season upon us, I’ve been frequently turning to the retailer for everything from cookie-making ingredients and paper towels to clothing and electronics.

The Target RedCard™ makes my Target purchases more affordable and easier, thanks to a robust 5% discount at checkout on most purchases and easy integration with other Target perks like Target Circle.

And while the RedCard is great for shopping year-round, it also pairs perfectly with the various promotions that Target runs during the holiday season. Here’s how I maximize the use of my Target RedCard during the holidays, and how you can too.

Why I prefer to do my holiday shopping at Target with the RedCard

When it comes to holiday shopping, there are several major retailers that are known for door-busters and Cyber Monday deals, including Target, Walmart and Amazon. Here’s why Target stands out:

Target RedCard™

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

    5% discount at checkout on most purchases in-store and at Target.com

  • Welcome bonus

    Receive $40 off a future qualifying purchase of $40 or more when approved from 11/1/20 to 12/26/20

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR


  • Regular APR

    22.90% variable

  • Balance transfer fee


  • Foreign transaction fee


  • Credit needed


Terms apply.

Instant RedCard 5% discount

The biggest perk of the Target RedCard is the automatic 5% discount you receive at checkout on most purchases in store and at Target.com. The savings from simply using your card can add up if you’re buying a lot of gifts, groceries and household essentials this holiday season. Plus it’s nice that you instantly receive the 5% discount without the need to jump through hoops to redeem rewards.

Pair the RedCard with Target Circle

I count myself as one of Target’s enthusiastic shoppers who looks forward to checking out the weekly catalog preview every Friday. I love scouring discounts on Target Circle (formerly Cartwheel) and finding a deal.

Target Circle is Target's loyalty program that is free to join and allows users to access hundreds of discounts. The program just celebrated its one-year anniversary and during that time, users have saved nearly $2 billion through Target Circle offers.

Target Circle discounts can save you up to 50% on eligible items or give you a certain dollar amount off a purchase (like $20 off a $50 bedding purchase). These offers pair great with your everyday RedCard discount. You'll need to save the offers to you account prior to using them.

In fact, I recently saved $90 on two bikes simply by activating a Target Circle 10% discount and paying with my RedCard for another 5% off.

Scan items to look for discounts

One of my favorite things to do at Target is scan items while I shop by using the Target app on my phone. I can conveniently check the list price, possible sale price and see if there are any additional Target Circle offers I can save to my account. Adding coupons to your account allows them to automatically deduct at checkout when you scan your Wallet app or enter your phone number.

Take advantage of free shipping

RedCard holders receive free two-day shipping on thousands of items from Target.com without the $35 minimum purchase amount required for non-cardholders. This can help you get items faster and cheaper compared to using a different card at checkout.

Keep in mind, some items may have extended delivery dates during high-demand periods, like the holidays. Your safest bet is to order things a week before you need them, or consider same day delivery services, which we dive into next.

Same-day delivery options

Target has plenty of options for you to get the items you need on the same day that you need them. You can get groceries and other essentials delivered to your door same day with Shipt. Currently, you can get a 4-week free trial to Shipt and then save 50% off an annual membership ($49, normally $99). You can also forgo membership and opt to pay a delivery fee per Shipt order.

Beyond Shipt, there are two fee-free alternatives: order pickup and order drive-up. Like the names hint, you can either opt to go in-store and pick up your Target order or have a Target rep bring it out to your car. Many orders are ready within four hours, depending on the time you place them, and you’ll receive an alert once it’s ready.

Price match guarantee

Like many retailers, Target has a price match guarantee policy. If you find a current lower price within 14 days after purchase, simply bring in the proof and Target will adjust your payment to the lower price.

This policy gets even better during the holiday season since Target wants you to “Shop early, shop with confidence this holiday season.”

Black Friday deal purchases made between November 1 to 28 qualify for a price adjustment if the Target store or Target.com price decreases any time on or before December 24, 2020. This is nearly four times longer than the normal guarantee.

New cardmember bonus

Right now, new RedCard holders can receive $40 off a future qualifying purchase of $40 or more when approved from November 1 to December 26, 2020. This is a great welcome bonus that doesn’t require you to meet any spending requirement to earn the bonus.

You’ll automatically receive the coupon in the mail after account approval, then can apply it to an upcoming purchase of $40 or more — which should be easy to do during the holidays. The coupon is valid through January 31, 2021.

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Information about the Target RedCard™ has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

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.