Guide to Rewards Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

“Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.”

With Halloween in the rearview, it’s now full steam ahead to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and (eventually) New Years. Of course, there’s still plenty to do before then — including the annual holiday shopping season. As a result, while you may not realize it, this may make for a good time to get a new credit card. That’s because you may be able to find an option that will reward you for your purchases, gift you with a significant bonus, or provide you with other ways to save while completing your gift list.

For each card, we’ll highlight what makes it a potential holiday shopping pick. This includes the reward categories it offers, the sign-up bonus it currently boasts, whether or not there’s an intro APR, and more. With that, here are some credit cards that just might come in handy this shopping season.

Chase Freedom Flex

  • Rewards: 5% back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (up to $1,500 in spend per quarter), 5% back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining, 3% back on drugstore purchases, and 1% back on everything else
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $200 back when you spend $500 in your first three months
  • 0% Intro APR Length: 15 months from the date of account opening

This card only debuted a couple of years ago but makes a strong case for itself as a well-rounded option for holiday shopping. Starting with the sign-up bonus, the $200 you’ll earn after spending $500 in your first three months can definitely help stretch your holiday budget. Beyond that, the Freedom Flex offers an introductory 0% APR for 15 months (from the date of your account opening).

As for rewards, the key is the 5% quarterly cashback category — and, for October to December 2022, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on Walmart and PayPal purchases. Customers can also earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining, 3% back on drugstore purchases, and 1% back on everything else. Plus, you’ll also earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 in grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) made in your first year. All in all, these elements add up to one appealing option for holiday shoppers.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday 

  • Rewards: 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in annual spend), 3% back at U.S. gas stations (up to $6,000 in annual spend), 3% back on U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 in annual spend), 1% back on everything else
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $100 cash back when you spend $2,000 in your first six months + Earn 20% back (up to $150) as statement credits on purchases when you use your new card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months
  • 0% Intro APR Length: 15 months from the date of account opening

Another no-annual-fee option for the shopping season is the American Express Blue Cash Everyday. Not only does the card currently offer new customers a unique bonus that can earn them up to $150 back on PayPal purchases (20% back on PayPal purchases you make using your card in your first six months) but they’ll also earn $100 back when they spend $2,000 on the card during their first six months. Plus. the card features 0% APY on purchases for 15 months from the date of your account opening.

As far as holiday shopping rewards go, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday recently got a facelift that makes it even better. While it previously offered 2% back at U.S. Department Stores, this category has been replaced with 3% back on U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 in purchases per year). 

Meanwhile, cardholders will also earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in annual spend), 3% back at gas stations (up to $6,000 in annual spend), and 1% back on everything else. Finally, the card now features a streaming perk, allowing cardholders to earn $7 in statement credits per month when they spend at least $13.99 for the Disney Bundle — which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. With all that considered, this could be a good choice for the holidays and, well, Everyday.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Card

  • Rewards: 5% cashback on purchases in two eligible spending categories each quarter (up to $2,000 in combined eligible purchases), 2% back on purchases at one of these options: Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, or Restaurants, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $200 back after spending $1,000 in purchases during your first 120 days.
  • 0% Intro APR Length: First 15 billing cycles for purchases and balances

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card is an interesting option for a few reasons. First, it allows customers to earn up to 5% cashback but requires you to select two spending categories from a list of 12 eligible options and caps that at $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter. 

On top of that, you’ll also earn 2% back on either gas station/EV charging, grocery store, or restaurant purchases — but you’ll have to choose one. Heck, even the current welcome bonus is a bit different from most, offering $200 back after you spend $1,000 in your first four months as opposed to the more typical three (or six) months.

Quirks aside, what lands the U.S. Bank Cash+ card on this list are some of the options available for that 5% category. For example, the line-up for October to December 2022 includes such eligible categories as “select clothing stores,” electronics stores, sporting goods stores, and department stores — all of which could prove helpful to those doing holiday shopping. 

Of course, since you can only pick two, you may want to take a closer look at your shopping list before determining which two options are the best for you. If you do, this could prove to be a powerful cashback weapon in your wallet.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

  • Rewards: 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 3x points on eligible travel purchases, 3x points on mobile wallet spending, 1x point on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $400
  • Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $4,500 in your first 90 days
  • 0% Intro APR Length: N/A

On the surface, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve may not seem like the most obvious holiday shopping option. However, it does have some benefits and other perks that I think allow it to qualify. 

First of all, the card’s unique 3% back on mobile wallet spending category could make it a powerful tool in your (digital) wallet. With acceptance of such payments growing, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to make use of this category this holiday season — although it may be hard to know in advance if the retailer you’re eying does accept mobile wallet payments. There are also some notable holdouts, such as Walmart to consider. Still, it’s a pretty good deal IMHO. 

Another reason I believe that the Altitide Reserve is a good pick for the purpose of holiday shopping is the welcome bonus. Currently, new cardholders can earn 50,000 points when they spend $4,500 on the card within their first 90 days. 

Since that’s a bit steep and there’s not much time to hit it, the holidays could very well be the best time to try and hit this goal. By the way, when you redeem your points for select travel purchases, they’ll be worth 50%  more. In turn, your bonus could be worth up to $750 and you could be earning an effective 4.5% back on mobile wallet purchases. 

Those factors plus the $325 in annual statement credits for travel or dining purchases definitely help offset that $400 annual fee. Honestly, every time I talk about this card, I wonder why I don’t have it yet — so perhaps you can learn from my mistakes and try this one out this holiday season.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

  • Rewards: 5% back at Whole Foods and on Amazon for Prime Members, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, 1% back on everything else
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $150 Amazon gift card upon approval
  • 0% Intro APR Length: N/A

This year, there’s a good chance that you’ll be doing a lot of your shopping online — which likely means shopping on Amazon. In that case, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you may want to consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card. In addition to offering 5% back on Amazon and at Whole Foods, you’ll also earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. Plus, upon getting approved for the card, you’ll get a $150 Amazon gift card.

By the way, if you’re not a Prime member, there’s also the Amazon Rewards Visa card. It offers much of what the Prime card does but lowers the earning rate at Amazon and Whole Foods to 3%. Additionally, those approved for this card will get a $60 Amazon gift card. Either way, you’ll pay no annual fee for the Amazon Prime Rewards or Amazon Rewards Visa Card.

Citi Double Cash Card

  • Rewards: 1% cash back when you buy plus 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 0% Intro APR Length: N/A

If you’re looking for a simple shopping solution, then the Citi Double Cash Card may be the pick for you. Instead of featuring multiplier categories, this card instead offers 2% cashback on everything — 1% back when you buy and 1% back when you pay off your purchases. That makes it one of the most attractive flat-rate cards on the market.

Even better, despite typically not featuring any welcome bonus, the Citi Double Cash Card is currently offering $200 back after spending $1,500 in purchases on the card within your first six months. 

As for downsides, while it does offer 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in your first four months, that intro APR doesn’t apply to purchases. Other than that, this card is a gold-standard and is perfect for those shoppers who want simple cashback.

Wells Fargo Active Cash

  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $200 cash back after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 0% Intro APR Length: 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Finally, although the Citi Double Cash card may be the most popular 2% flat cashback card, it’s no longer the only one. Among the newer options is the Wells Fargo Active Cash. The reason why this one lands on the list as well is that it offers a 0% Intro APR for 15 months, which some consumers may find useful. 

Also, while the current welcome bonus offers the same $200 reward as the Double Cash card, the minimum spending is lower at $1,000 — although the timeline is shorter at 3 months instead of 6. So, between the two 2% back options, it really just comes down to preference.


There are many elements that could make for the perfect holiday shopping credit card. However, it’s important to consider what your needs are and let that determine your pick. Happy shopping!

DyerNews has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. DyerNews.com and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.” (Note: advertising relationships do not have any influence on editorial content. Advertising compensation allows DyerNews.com to provide quality content for free. All editorial opinions are those of the individual author and/or Dyer News.)


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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Credit cards are very useful tools if used responsibly. This holiday season use your cards wisely and enjoys its benefits.

Nice list of credit cards and its and its corresponding rewards, this list helps you to make most out of your rewards.

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