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4 Credit Cards That Offer Rewards in Time for the Holidays

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Rewards credit card users are accustomed to playing the long game. It can take some time to find the best card, receive it, and earn the points or miles needed. And in many cases, award travel must be planned many months in advance in order to find scarce award seats or free hotel nights during peak periods.

So where does this leave credit card users who hope to earn rewards quickly, and in time for the holidays? Thankfully, there are still some offers available that can pay off well before the end of the year.

Before you apply for a credit card, there are two important things to consider: your credit score and how you’ll use the card. Your credit scores will impact the interest rate a credit card issuer is willing to extend to you, so you may want to check them (you can see your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com) to see which rate you’ll qualify for. Also, keep in mind that applying for a credit card just to go into debt is probably not smart — your credit cards can take a while to pay off, just check out this calculator to crunch the numbers.

Here are four great credit cards with rewards that you can use before (or for) the holidays.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

This card offers new applicants 40,000 bonus miles when they use it to spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. Since these miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel expenses, and cardholders receive a rebate of 10% of their miles used, this sign-up bonus is worth a total of $444.

Cardholders also earn double miles on all purchases, and miles can be redeemed for any airfare, hotel, car rental, cruise, or tour, with no blackout dates or capacity controls. In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card, and it comes equipped with an EMV smart chip to ensure compatibility with the next generation of secure card terminals already being deployed around the world.

Best of all, cardholders can redeem their miles for any travel purchases made within the previous 120 days, so they can receive a statement credit up to four months after purchasing holiday travel. There is an $89 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This offer grants new applicants 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months after account opening. Points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program can be redeemed for $400 in cash, merchandise, and gift cards, or $500 in travel reservations.

In addition, Ultimate Rewards points can also be transferred to several different airline or hotel programs, as well as Amtrak Guest Rewards. Bonus points are typically credited to new accounts when the first statement closes after meeting the minimum spending requirement, so new cardholders can earn these points within two months.

With this card, customers earn two points per dollar spent at restaurants and on travel, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and there are no foreign transaction fees added to charges processed outside of the U.S.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card From Chase

New cardholders receive 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within three months, which is often enough for an award for a round-trip flight. Double points are earned on all Southwest purchases, and one point per dollar is earned on all other purchases.

Best of all, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program offers every unsold seat as an award, with the points needed based on the price of the ticket. This way, travelers don’t have to search for the rare award seats made available at the lowest mileage levels by traditional frequent flier programs.

As always, Southwest offers all customers two free checked bags and no change fees. There is a $99 annual fee for this card, but there are no foreign transaction fees.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card From American Express

This card has been a favorite of travel rewards enthusiasts for some time. It currently offers 10,000 points in the Starwood Preferred Guest program after new cardholders make their first purchase, and an additional15,000 points after spending $5,000 within six months. Yet even just the initial 10,000 bonus points can be very valuable, as Starwood hotels offer free nights starting at just 2,000 points a night, with the fifth award night in a row for free.

Better yet, Starwood offers award nights in any standard unsold room, with no blackout dates or capacity controls. So if they have a standard room available, you can book it even at the last minute. There is a $65 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and a 2.7% foreign transaction fee imposed on all charges processed outside of the U.S.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

At publishing time, the Barclay Arrival Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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