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Top 7 credit cards for earning rewards on holiday shopping

The right rewards card makes it easy to get a little something for yourself -- points, or a cash bonus -- when you're buying gifts for others.

By Money Staff Nov 12, 2013 11:55AM

This post comes from Jennifer Calonia at partner site on MSN MoneyAs the winter season draws near and holiday giving expectations become more and more grandiose, shoppers are starting to scrutinize how much their holiday spirit will cost them at the end of the year. However, shopping for presents can actually provide boomerang benefits with the use of a rewards credit card.


Stack of Credit Cards © Fuse, Getty ImagesThose in the market for a new credit card stand to gain the most from rewards-based cards, especially during the holidays. With credit card companies offering more sign-up incentives to entice new customers, it’s prime time for free money.


In addition to incredible cash bonus offers -- some in the hundreds of dollars  -- charging gifts on a rewards credit card can also earn you points.


Here are a few of the best reward credit cards available today.


1. Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

Having a credit card that helps you earn points during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year can be crucial when it comes to saving money. The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard also provides new customers with an easy 5,000 bonus points (equivalent to $50) with the first purchase or balance transfer into the account.


But the benefits don’t stop upon opening a new line of credit -- they last all year long. The rewards credit card provides cardholders with an impressive two points on gas, groceries and utility expenses, so customers get cash back on daily living. All other charges earn one point for every dollar spent.


A few additional perks to the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard include:

  • No annual fees
  • No blackout dates, caps or expiration on points
  • 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months

Points can be used on anything from next year’s holiday flights and gift cards to getting a head start on 2014 wishlists.


2. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card

Pentagon Federal Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the nation, giving more than 1.2 million members the chance at exceptional cash-back returns through its PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Card.


In addition to earning one point for every dollar charged to the account, the PenFed credit card also has a limited-time offer through Dec. 31, 2013 that will give cardholders five points on gas purchases at the pump and three points for grocery store purchases. After that date, points are adjusted to three and two points on gas and groceries, respectively.


There is no annual fee dragging down rewards, and the low 9.99% APR introductory rate won’t cause shoppers to turn into Scrooge on account of excessive interest charges.


3. Chase Sapphire Card

Shoppers who are too busy make dinner between gift list excursions can still benefit from reward credit card savings. Users of the Chase Sapphire credit card earn a generous two points on restaurant dining, plus one point for all other purchases.


Cardholders also receive an extra point for every $1 spent on travel purchases (airfare and hotel bookings) when purchased through Chase‘s Ultimate Rewards website. The perks don’t end there, as the bank is currently offering 10,000 bonus points to new customers that spend at least $500 in the first three months of opening the account.


The Chase Sapphire credit card has no annual fee and no point caps that hinder how much cardholders can earn through the year.


4. Discover It Card

The It card is Discover‘s new way of giving back to its customers with quarterly reward categories that have the potential to earn users a lot of return.


Discover It cardholders earn as much as 5 percent cash back on online shopping during the months of October to December 2013. There are no annual fees associated with the account, and the reward cap is as high as $1,500 in purchases for the holiday shopping season. All other purchases brings in 1 percent cash back, which is unlimited.

Additional perks of the Discover It credit card include an introductory 0 percent APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Additionally, rewards can be instantly redeemed on


5. American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

Although a big part of the holidays is gift giving, spending time with loved ones over a family-style dinner is also a cherished part of the season. Shopping for family recipe ingredients can save customers even more with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card.


Grocery shoppers earn 6 percent cash back at supermarkets across the nation, up to $6,000 in purchases every year. After the cap is reached, customers still receive 1 percent cash back on grocery store expenses.


More incentives are available to cardholders, including 3 percent back at gas stations, 3 percent rewards at department stores and 1 percent cash back on everything else.


Additional information to be aware of:

  • An annual $75 fee applies.
  • New users receive 150 Rewards Dollars (equivalent to a $150 statement credit) upon making $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • There’s a 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 15 months.

6. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

For a well-rounded rewards credit card, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card provides customers with the satisfaction of a great point system and additional purchase protections for those on the go.


Citi cardholders earn two points per dollar on restaurant and entertainment expenses, and one point for all other purchases year-round. They also qualify for a huge sign-up bonus of $200 after a $1,500 purchase balance is added to the account within three months of activation.


Other card features include:

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited ThankYou points
  • Points don’t expire
  • APR is 0% on purchases and balance transfers in the first 12 months

Cardholders also receive early access to entertainment, via Citi Private Pass, and travel protection, such as travel accident insurance and lost luggage coverage for added peace of mind during the holiday travel season.


7. Farm Bureau Bank World MasterCard

Customers of Farm Bureau Bank can earn money-saving points with the bank’s World MasterCard. Double points are issued for every dollar spent on commonly shopped categories, such as dining and travel, as well as purchases on services and products from participating partners of the institution. All other transactions earn one point per dollar charged.


There are no annual fees associated with the account, nor any redemption fees that hack away at earnings. Plus, a 0 percent APR introductory rate helps keep holiday shopping costs low for avid credit card users.


New accounts also benefit from the Farm Bureau Bank’s current bonus point promotion, which gives customers an instant 2,500 bonus points after their first transactions, balance transfers or cash advances.


More from


Dec 1, 2013 11:17AM




Dec 1, 2013 11:42AM
Nothing but cash will do  !!!!!!!!!  Stay Debt Free
Dec 1, 2013 2:10PM
Push those credit cards MSN...don't have any...don't want any!
Dec 1, 2013 8:09PM
Dec 1, 2013 11:05AM
Don't have any credit cards and don't want one.It's a trap of your own making .
Dec 1, 2013 11:14PM
here you go a good story lets go into more debt and make the billionaire bankers even gotta love msn for there story lines ...give us a break 
Dec 4, 2013 5:58AM
Chase Sapphire charges 85 dollars per year membership please correct mistakes in reporting.
Dec 1, 2013 8:53PM
I have all kinds of credit, cards and otherwise? It is nice to have EMERGENCY backup! BUT you MUST control your own destiny or you are right? What is more, do you know these spend spend spend ad's are more of a problem than credit IF you give into them? They have created a need in your mind to buy for so many reasons from holidays to just because?  And who does it help that you give all those dollars away on gifts? THEM! Used to be just being with family was enough? IF you give a gift, I say give cash, that way who you give it to can REALLY use it for something? Or squander it away like out public servants do most of what don't go into their own pockets!
Dec 1, 2013 11:09PM

Our credit cards are a wonderful convenience. Groceries, gasoline, insurance payments, on line purchases, auto rentals, air fare, Cab rides, medical bills, dentist bills, prescriptions, restaurants, auto parts, auto services, auto detailing, retail shopping, cable TV, cell phone bill, hair dresser/barber, YMCA membership, Golf fees, theatre/movie tickets, day care and everywhere else that take credit cards. These bills have to be paid anyway, may as well get the points and fly free all the time.

Try Southwest Visa cards through Chase and you will see how fast your points add up. Of course the balance has to be paid off every month for charge cards with points to make any sense. Last item is we usually RUN to the bank about every 3 months for some ATM cash.

Dec 4, 2013 1:14PM
Well,well,well, I see the banks are at it again. The only people that can afford these kind of cards are those with at least a 6 figure income! I have worked for a BIG Bank for years and finally got out of there for sanity reasons...they are all money hungry pigs....and their credit cards make them a world of profit. As stated before in the many responses here, please pay cash...It will really piss off the banks, or if you have to to get points or some  other "catch". If ou can pay them off in full every month and occur no finance charges, then you got them. I worked in one of their many "centers" so I know what I speak...After 40+ years in the business....all they care about is the bottom line....and the word "customer service" has not been mentioned for a lot of years now....If they screwed you out of anything during the recession, then tell them to pay you back...I did! You should have seen the look on their faces! It was AWESOME. So no credit card product is good for the wonder why the bankruptcy courts are having a all time high in the cases!
Dec 2, 2013 8:56PM
Hey,Just heard the Steelers Head coach lost his credit  card at the ravens game LMAO
Dec 2, 2013 3:10AM

ALL BOGUS. The best card in the world is the Disney Rewards Card Chase Visa where you can earn 2% back in real cash for cruises, the parks or shopping on-line or for airline tickets. Forget points. I would rather have cash-back to enjoy an incredible Disney Cruise, rated #1 by Travel & Leisure Magazine as best cruiseline.

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