[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Discussions of the winter holidays in July may cause you to react with groans or eye-rolls. But if you find yourself struggling to afford gifts for your loved ones every year when the holidays roll around, you could benefit from starting a holiday savings plan early.
Cash back credit cards put money back in your pocket so you can save for the holiday season. Here are five credit cards that may be able to help you afford this year’s holiday gifts.
Rewards: 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual spending at supermarkets, 2% cash back at gas stations and certain department stores and 1% cash back everywhere else
Welcome Offer: $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first three months (offer may vary)
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% for 15 months on purchases, then 15.24%-26.24% Variable
Why We Picked It: Everyday purchases can earn you cash back, and there’s a nice little signup bonus to boot.
For the Holiday Season: Commonplace purchases such as groceries and gas earn special cash back rates, with everything else earning 1% cash back. Plus, you’ll get a bonus cash back just in time for the holidays.
Drawbacks: If you don’t spend much at supermarkets, gas stations or participating department stores, this card won’t hold as much value.
2. Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
Rewards: 3% back at Amazon.com (5% if you also have Amazon Prime), 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $50 Amazon gift card (upon approval)
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 15.24% to 23.24%
Why We Picked It: This card earns extra rewards when you shop at Amazon.com and more, and rewards can be redeemed for future gifts.
For the Holiday Season: The card earns a percentage back on all purchases, with special rewards rates at Amazon.com, restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. Your rewards come in the form of points, which can be redeemed for future Amazon.com purchases and gift cards. You’ll also get a bonus $50 Amazon gift card right out of the gate that you can use to order those gifts.
Drawbacks: If you don’t do much shopping at Amazon.com, or don’t plan on doing so, this card probably isn’t ideal for you.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
Card Details +
Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter for rotating spending categories, unlimited1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases then 17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Why We Picked It: Spending categories that earn 5% cash back and a signup bonus can help you save fast.
For the Holiday Season: You’ll earn 5% cash back on spending categories that rotate each quarter; past categories include gas stations and grocery stores. You can also earn a $150 signup bonus for spending $500 in three months, which is a fairly low spending threshold.
Drawbacks: You have to do the work of tracking and activating bonus spending categories with this card.
4. Citi Double Cash
Rewards: Earn 2% cash back: 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% on payments
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% for 18 months, then 15.24% – 25.24% (Variable) ongoing APR.
Why We Picked It: By the time you pay off your purchases, you’ll have earned a flat 2% cash back on everything you buy. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
For the Holiday Season: All purchases earn 2% cash back by the time they’re paid off, so you’ll be earning a great cash back rate on everything on this card.
Drawbacks: You won’t get your full cash back until you pay your balance.
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $39
APR: 26.96% (Variable)
Why We Picked It: Consumers with average credit can still get in on cash back savings.
For the Holiday Season: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back, which can help you save up a decent holiday fund.
Drawbacks: There’s an annual fee and an above-average APR with this card.
Choosing a Credit Card to Save for the Holiday Season
Shoppers can use cash back rewards to start saving for holiday gifts. When choosing a card to help you save, you’ll want to pick one that rewards the types of purchases you make. If you mostly spend at a few specific types of merchants, you may want a card that offers special cash back rates at those merchant types. However, if you tend to spend at a wide variety of merchants, you may want a card with rotating purchase categories or a solid flat cash back rate on everything.
Cash back rewards can usually be redeemed for statement credits, but some cards also offer redemption options for gift cards, bank account transfers and merchandise. Make sure to pick a card with redemption options that will most benefit your holiday savings plan.
Remember, a cash back card earns the most value when you pay your balance in full each month.
What Credit Is Required for a Card That Helps Save for Gifts?
Cards with cash back rewards usually require good to excellent credit (although there’s at least one card on this list available to consumers with average credit). Before you apply, you’ll want to check your credit score to be reasonably confident in your chances of approval. You can check two of your credit scores free on Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, Chase Freedom, Citi Double Cash,\ and QuicksilverOne From Capital One credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(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.