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If you’re almost in the mood to start checking off your holiday shopping list, you’re definitely not alone. A recent Bankrate survey found that around half of holiday shoppers plan on starting their holiday shopping by October 31 this year.
With that in mind, you still have time to apply for a rewards card and take advantage of some of the best credit card welcome bonuses available. Some cards 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.
But, what should you look for in a credit card welcome bonus? First, you should know that most of the top cash back credit cards offer bonuses of around $200 when you meet a minimum spending requirement. Travel credit cards and business credit cards tend to offer higher bonuses worth up to $600 or more, but they come with much higher minimum spending requirements that make them less attractive as a holiday shopping tool.
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 and 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
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express currently has one of the highest-value welcome offers on the cash back market. While most cash back cards are currently offering welcome bonuses of around $200.
Say you spend $50 on each gift recipient this holiday season — that $250 statement credit could cover the cost of 5 gifts! The one caveat is the $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 families, 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 18.24 percent to 29.24 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℠ is 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, travel and more.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for online shoppers
- Welcome offer: $200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
- Annual fee: $0
If you plan to do most of your holiday shopping online, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card could be your best bet. That’s because, in addition to offering a generous welcome bonus, this card lets you pick your top earning category among the following options: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. Specifically, cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on category purchases of choice, 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 of combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on all other purchases.
So when the holidays are over and you aren’t doing as much online shopping, you have the option to change your 3 percent category to something more useful. This card’s flexibility is a huge advantage for the holidays and beyond.
There’s no annual fee for this card, and you also get a 0 percent intro APR for purchases that lasts 18 billing cycles. The same rate also applies to balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After the introductory period ends, the rate resets to a variable APR of 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card updated on January 9, 2023.
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. Those 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 $1,000 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 and no categories to keep track of. This card charges no annual fee, and you can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 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 bonus categories or 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 19.24 percent, 24.24 percent or 29.24 percent). That makes this card a great option for charging new holiday purchases, earning rewards then paying your balance down slowly if you need.