Best credit cards for holiday shopping

For the 45% of Americans with excellent credit, card companies are offering some of their best-ever deals.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 12, 2012 12:31PM

This guest post comes from Odysseas Papadimitriou at Card Hub.


Card Hub logoAnyone who's ever shopped during the holidays knows it can be a battle. High prices, aggressive crowds and the need to do so much in so little time make things tough on both you and your wallet. But having the right credit card will help. You can save hundreds of dollars simply by using one of the best credit cards for holiday shopping.


CreditCard © Tara Moore/Getty ImagesThe credit card market's upper tier boasts unprecedented value, as issuers compete for the business of the roughly 45% of consumers who have excellent credit. They're offering sign-up bonuses, 0% introductory interest rates and great ongoing rewards. You just have to figure out what you're looking for in a credit card.


If you want a quick payoff

The Chase Sapphire Credit Card offers the most valuable initial bonus on the market, giving cardholders who charge at least $3,000 during the first three months 40,000 bonus points. They can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit or $500 in travel accommodations booked through Chase, and the card doesn't charge an annual fee during the first year. 


Using it to handle holiday shopping on top of your everyday needs should help you meet the initial spending requirement, and you'll therefore either give your bank account some reinforcements a few months down the road or be able to save on a much-needed vacation.


If you want ongoing benefit

Many folks are likely hesitant to open a credit card for the sole purpose of saving on holiday shopping, and that's perfectly understandable. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express will help you save all year. It offers 6% cash back on supermarket purchases (up to a $6,000 limit), 3% on gas station and department store purchases, and 1% on everything else. It does charge a $75 annual fee, but if you spend at least $1,000 during the first three months, the $150 bonus you get will cover that for two years.


If you want to avoid interest on upcoming purchases

The average holiday shopper is expected to spend $749.51 this year, according to the National Retail Federation -- a lot of money no matter who you are. We're also expected to end the year with $43.5 billion more in credit card debt, so a lot of us will need a few extra months to pay off our holiday expenses. A card like the Citi Diamond Preferred can help you save a lot of money, as it offers 0% on new purchases for 18 months and doesn't charge an annual fee.

If you want to lower the cost of existing debt

The average household has roughly $6,700 in credit card debt, and if you foresee adding to your tab this holiday season, a card like the Slate Card from Chase would definitely come in handy. It offers 0% on balance transfers for 15 months and doesn't charge a balance-transfer fee or an annual fee. You can use a credit card calculator to see exactly how much you'd save with such a card -- don't be surprised if it's about $1,000 in interest and fees.


If you want to do most of your shopping at a particular store

Store credit cards can be used only at the retailers with which they are affiliated, but they can provide a lot of value nonetheless.


One of the best credit cards in this category is the J.C. Penney Card, which offers 20% off apparel, shoes, handbags and fashion jewelry as well as 10% off fine jewelry, watches and home merchandise the day you're approved for your account. If you can cross off a good amount of your to-do list at J.C. Penney, you'll be saving efficiently with this card.


Finally, it's important to note that you aren't necessarily limited to just one of these cards. You can mix and match a rewards card with a 0% credit card, for example, to subsidize your holiday purchases and then avoid interest later.


What's more, if you don't have the credit standing required to get one of the cards mentioned above, the best present you can give yourself is credit improvement. By opening a secured card and making on-time monthly payments, you should be able to take advantage of deals like the ones above soon.


So, with that being said, happy holidays and merry savings!


More on Card Hub and MSN Money:


Dec 12, 2012 2:20PM
no credit card is best credit card. if you cant afford it you shouldn't buy it. I am debt free, something that well not many can say. and no, Im not rich.

Nov 12, 2012 2:15PM
Any credit card is good it's the user who has the problems with credit - I pay off my cards every month- if i buy something big i do it in two months -  where can you barrow $2,000 for $1.75 in fees and interest you cant............ cant pay for in in  a month? wait till you can to buy it! I use all five cards cause of points and then I fly free as I did this past summer to Honolulu for five nights covered all my flights first class and my hotel...... I only had to pay for food..........
Dec 12, 2012 2:41PM
If you have to pay an annual fee, DON'T do it! If you are NOT able to pay off your balance every month, DON'T do it! The author must be a contribute writer for the credit companies.
Nov 13, 2012 2:11AM
Northwest Community Credit Union has an amazing rewards card with no annual fee, 10,000 bonus points for the first purchase, rates as low as 8.25%, double points for the first 90 days, no rate increase for balance transfers OR cash advances, and ongoing anniversary bonus points. You can't beat it!
Nov 13, 2012 3:00PM
The only wise way to use a credit card is to cut it up and throw it in the trash. Nothing is free, nothing. The credit card companies would not offer "points' etc if they didn't make money on it along the way, that's how they stay in business and one way or another they make it off the consumer. In this how-much-a-month pay-me-later put-it-on-plastic world we have all seen what happens when people charge and borrow what they cannot afford or do not understand owe vs own, in the end we all pay for it.  Oh sure places like Sears or Penneys may give you a discount with the store card, but read the fine print, lots of exclusions, if you wait until end of the season clearance you will often do better.  My Grandmother taught me that the only thing worse than being broke is to owe....... I learned my lessons well, and like my Grandmother I retired with zero debt, it's a great feeling.
Dec 12, 2012 2:32PM
The best credit card is NO credit card. Use your debit card. I use mine for EVERYTHING, hotels, car rentals, etc and travel the world. I will never own another credit card. EVER. I save more money that way than playing with snakes. I'm completely debt free, house and all.
Nov 28, 2012 2:43PM

I do have to say, Discover has some fantastic perks for new accounts. Right now they are giving you $100 if you charge $500 within three months. That’s just crazy. Even if you only charge $1, you will still get $50 cash back.

The catch is you need a referral from an existing customer, but I found a bunch here:

Nov 13, 2012 4:06PM
I love using credit cards. I use it every time everyplace that accepts credit card. It really depends on how you use it. If u use it wisely, you will have a lot of benefits. I will tell you the TRUTH that I have earned a lot a lot and A LOT of hotels points. In addition, I dont have any credit card debt. I haven't paid any interest since I entered the credit card world. My Fico score Transunion is 770 for this month. If you dont know how to manage your credit cards, you need to find a book to teach you how to mange credit cards. Otherwise, you must use cash only but you will lose a lot of BENEFITS. My final word is that I love love and LOVE using credit card ^_^
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