Great Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

The branded card of a retailer you are loyal to may have strong rewards.

Customer paying for a purchase.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As you dive into holiday shopping, get some extra oomph from your spending by using a rewards credit card that provides additional cash back or points at the retailers—or retailer websites—you visit most.

The Discover It (opens in new tab) card, for example, provides 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at, and in the fourth quarter of 2020 (1% on all other spending). Quarterly categories for 2021 hadn’t been announced at press time, but bonus categories in 2020 included grocery stores, gas stations, wholesale clubs and restaurants. For rewards on a broader variety of online purchases, consider the Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa (opens in new tab). You choose one of six categories that earn 3% cash back, including online shopping, gas, dining, travel, drugstores, and home improvement and furnishings—and each calendar month you can change the category. The card also offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. After you spend $2,500 combined in the 2% and 3% categories each quarter, you get 1% back on purchases in both categories. All other spending earns 1% back.

The branded card of a retailer you are loyal to may have strong rewards. The Amazon Rewards Visa (opens in new tab) offers 3% cash back on Amazon purchases (5% if you’re a Prime member), and the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard (opens in new tab) provides 5% back at and 2% at Walmart stores (5% in-store the first 12 months if you use Walmart’s mobile-payment app). Both cards offer rewards in other spending categories, too. The Target RedCard (opens in new tab) offers a 5% discount on in-store and online Target purchases.

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Rake in a big bonus. The holiday season may be a good time to open a card that offers a bonus of cash back, points or miles if you charge a certain amount in the first few months. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa (opens in new tab) ($95 annual fee) card offers 80,000 points—worth $1,000 in travel bookings or $800 in cash—if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Or consider the Bank of America card mentioned above. It provides $200 for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Lisa Gerstner
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Lisa has spent more than15 years with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and heads up the magazine’s annual rankings of the best banks, best rewards credit cards, and financial-services firms with the best customer service. She reports on a variety of other topics, too, from retirement to health care to money concerns for millennials. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.