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- Recent data from Bankrate shows that around half of holiday shoppers plan to start searching for the perfect gifts before Halloween this year.
- While shopping early can help consumers lock in excellent deals, earning a credit card welcome bonus and rewards for spending can sweeten the pot.
- Many rewards credit cards also come with 0 percent APR on purchases (and potentially balance transfers) for a limited time, which can help consumers pay down their holiday bills for up to 12 months or even longer without interest.
If you’re already in the mood to start shopping for the holidays, you’re definitely not alone and actually in great company. In fact, a recent Bankrate survey found that around half of holiday shoppers plan on starting on their holiday gift list by October 31 this year, meaning they can enjoy both the festive and spooky seasons at once.
Yet, you still have time to make some moves in terms of rewards before you start playing Santa, and that includes applying for a rewards card and taking advantage of some of the best credit card welcome bonuses available. Some cards with rewards also offer 0 percent APR on purchases for a limited time, which makes it possible to pay down your holiday shopping bill interest-free for up to a year or more.
If the holiday season makes you feel like it’s time to upgrade your credit card, and you want to get something back for your spending this year, here are some of the best credit card welcome bonuses you can earn right now. Read on to learn which cards we recommend, their current offers and how you can sign up to start earning right away.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Highest cash back welcome offer
- Welcome offer: $250 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on purchases within six months of account opening
- Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express currently has one of the highest-value welcome offers among all credit cards with a bonus offer. Cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases within six months of account opening.
Say you spend $50 on each gift recipient this holiday season, and you’re able to earn this welcome offer — that $250 statement credit could cover the cost of 5 gifts! The one caveat is the card’s $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year), but we think it’s still well worth it because the Blue Cash Preferred is also a lucrative cash back card to keep for the long haul.
The card’s ongoing rewards categories are geared to the everyday spending habits of many consumers, including 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3 percent cash back on transit, 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
This card also comes with an intro 0 percent APR offer for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, followed by a variable APR of 19.24 percent to 29.99 percent. This makes it ideal for paying down your holiday shopping bill interest-free for the first year.
Chase Freedom Flex: Best for modest spenders
- Welcome offer: $200 bonus cash after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of account opening
- Annual fee: $0
The Chase Freedom Flex℠* can be a good choice for modest spenders since you only have to charge $500 in purchases within three months to earn $200 in bonus cash. If you’re nervous about achieving the welcome offers that require thousands of dollars of spending, this card is a great compromise.
There’s no annual fee, and you’ll also earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in activated quarterly bonus categories (then 1 percent back), 5 percent back on travel booked through Chase, 3 percent back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1 percent back on everything else.
You can redeem your cash back rewards for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, a check in the mail and travel. This card also comes with 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 20.49 percent to 29.24 percent.
Amazon Prime Visa: Best for online shoppers
- Welcome offer: $100 (or more) Amazon gift card after account approval
- Annual fee: $0 with Amazon Prime membership
If you plan to do most of your holiday shopping online, and you love shopping at Amazon.com, the Prime Visa can be an excellent fit for your wallet. This card doesn’t have an annual fee as long as you have an Amazon Prime membership, yet you can earn unlimited 5 percent back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases with an eligible Prime membership; unlimited 5 percent back on travel purchases booked through Chase; unlimited 2 percent back at gas stations, restaurants and on local transit and commuting; and unlimited 1 percent back on other purchases.
This card also gives you a $100 (or more) Amazon gift card after your account is approved, and it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. Rewards can be redeemed for Amazon purchases, cash back, travel and more, so the cash back you earn is more flexible than you might think.
Finally, the Prime Visa comes with a range of included protections and travel benefits like purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance and secondary auto rental coverage.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for frequent travelers
- Welcome offer: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Annual fee: $95
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is ideal for holiday shoppers who may want to travel next year, as well as those who don’t mind spending more to earn a higher cash bonus.
The points you can earn from the sign-up bonus are worth $600 in gift cards or statement credits, or $750 in travel. In terms of rewards on regular spending, this card offers 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and Lyft Rides (Lyft offer through March 31st, 2025); 2X points on other travel; and 1X points on other purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points also transfer to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio, which means you can turn them into rewards with programs like Southwest, Marriott Bonvoy or World of Hyatt. This card has a $95 annual fee and no 0 percent introductory APR offer, so it’s best for heavy shoppers who can earn a lot of rewards but plan to pay their balance in full each month.
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best for simplicity
- Welcome offer: $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases within the first three months
- Annual fee: $0
Finally, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card if you want to earn a generous bonus and simple ongoing rewards without having to keep track of spending categories. This card charges no annual fee, and you can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases within the first three months. The rewards rate is a flat 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, so you don’t have to worry about earning caps.
As an added bonus, cardholders get an intro APR of 0 percent on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening (followed by a variable APR of 20.24 percent, 25.24 percent or 29.99 percent). That makes this card a great option for charging new holiday purchases, earning rewards and then paying your balance down slowly if you need to.
This card also comes with cell phone protection worth up to $600 when you pay your phone bill with your credit card. A $25 deductible per claim, up to two claims per year and other terms apply.
How to choose a credit card for holiday shopping
Whether you want a credit card for holiday shopping only, or you prefer a rewards credit card you’ll want to keep for the long haul, here are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind.
- Check for annual fees. While most cash back credit cards don’t charge an annual fee, some rewards cards with the most generous welcome offers do. There’s nothing wrong with paying an annual fee, but you should confirm the rewards and cardholder perks you get in return are worth it to you before signing up.
- Consider which categories you spend the most in. Look for cards that offer bonus rewards in categories you spend a lot in, which may include online shopping, dining, travel or groceries.
- Confirm welcome bonus requirements. Make sure you understand the card’s welcome offer fine print and confirm you can meet the required minimum spending with regular expenses and bills. If you have to overspend to earn a credit card welcome bonus, it won’t be worth it.
- Know the interest rate. Also know your card’s interest rate range and when it will apply if your card has an introductory APR offer. If you plan to carry a balance while you have access to a 0 percent APR, have a plan to pay your balance off completely before the introductory period ends.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Some of the best credit cards for holiday shopping include the Prime Visa, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Most credit cards require you to spend a minimum amount within a specified timeline to earn their bonus offers. For example, you may have to spend $500 or $3,000 on the card within a few months of account opening depending on the offer.
Avoid credit card interest by paying your credit card statement balance in full each billing cycle by your credit card’s due date. If your card offers 0 percent APR for a limited time, you can also avoid interest that way until the offer period ends.
The bottom line
If getting a credit card with the best bonus is on your agenda this holiday season, there are an endless number of credit card holiday offers to consider. Not only can you earn a generous welcome offer when you meet a minimum spending threshold in the first few months, but you can earn cash back or travel rewards for each dollar you spend on gifts.
When you add in the 0 percent APR offers some of these cards have, you can see where a rewards card could leave you ahead this holiday season. Just remember that credit card interest rates are on the high end when compared to other loans, so using one for holiday shopping and carrying the debt beyond a card’s 0 percent intro period can make every gift you purchase cost more in the long run.
*The information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.