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Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Holiday Spending

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The holidays are just around the corner, which means Americans are getting ready for some big spending. Whether you're buying gifts, commissioning greeting cards or preparing for family gatherings, the holiday season can be an expensive time of the year.

Even if you're cutting back spending this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's always a good idea to look for ways to get more value on your purchases. If you're shopping for others, or even yourself, here are some of the best cash back cards for holiday spending.

Discover it® Cash Back

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on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

Apply

on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Intro APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Unlimited Cashback Match. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

If you're planning on doing a lot of your holiday shopping online, the Discover it® Cash Back card is tough to beat. The card offers rotating quarterly bonus categories that'll earn you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending when you activate (you'll earn 1% on everything else). From October through December 2020, the bonus category includes spending at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com when you activate.

What's more, Discover will match all cash back earnings for new cardholders at the end of your first year with the card. Discover's introductory 0% APR on purchases for 14 months means you will have plenty of time to pay down your holiday spending without accruing interest before the standard APR of 11.99% - 22.99% variable applies. There's no annual fee for this card.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One's website

Apply

on Capital One's website

APR

26.99% (Variable)

Intro APR: N/A

Rewards

1.5% cash back on All Purchases

Annual Fee

$39

One of the challenges with cash back credit cards is that most of the best ones are reserved for people with good credit or better—that's a FICO® Score of 670 or higher. If you're not there yet, though, don't fret. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is designed for people with fair credit, which includes FICO® Scores between 580 and 669.

The card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, which is rare for a fair-credit card. That said, there's no intro cash bonus or 0% APR promotion. There's also a $39 annual fee, but you'll make up for that in rewards if you spend at least $2,600 every year.

Another perk that can come in handy if you plan to do a lot of online shopping is Capital One's virtual card number feature. This lets you create unique card numbers to use with each online retailer. That way, your actual card information won't be compromised if the merchant suffers a data breach. Also, the virtual card numbers can't be used anywhere else, so if someone gets hold of one, they'll be out of luck.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

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on Chase's website

Apply

on Chase's website

APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Intro APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

5% cash back on Travel

3% cash back on Dining

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee

$0

The new Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the best cash back credit cards overall, so it should be on your radar for holiday spending. The card offers an impressive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent on rotating categories each quarter when you activate. For the fourth quarter of 2020, those categories are Walmart and PayPal.

The card also offers 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase (in case you're thinking of flying somewhere to visit loved ones); 3% back on drugstore purchases and dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services; and 1% back on everything else.

As a new cardholder, you'll earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months you have the card, which you can use to cover some holiday expenses if you choose. You'll also earn a whopping 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on the first $12,000 spent your first year.

If that isn't enough, the card also offers new customers an intro 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, which could give you some time to pay off gifts or other holiday-related purchases interest-free. After that period, your APR will be 14.99% to 23.74% variable. The card has no annual fee.

Finally, the card provides purchase protection and extended warranty protection. With purchase protection, eligible purchases will be covered (up to $500 per claim) against damage and theft for 120 days after you buy them. The card's extended warranty protection will add another year to the manufacturer's warranty of three years or less on eligible items.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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on Chase's website

Apply

on Chase's website

APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Intro APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Travel

3% cash back on Dining

1.5% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee

$0

If you like a lot about the Chase Freedom Flex℠, but keeping track of the rotating bonus categories seems like a lot of work, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® may be the right alternative.

For the most part, the two cards are identical, which mean 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and 3% back on drugstore and dining purchases. They also offer the same intro offers, including $200 back when you spend $500 in the first 3 months, 5% back on grocery stores on your first $12,000 spent the first year, and an intro 0% APR on purchases for 15 months (after which you'll pay a 14.99% to 23.74% variable APR). It also means you'll get purchase protection and extended warranty protection, which can come in handy after the holiday season is over. And you'll pay no annual fee.

The main way the two cards differ, though, is that instead of giving you extra cash back on just a few categories that change every three months, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus spending.

If you like the idea of a high flat rewards rate without giving up some bonus categories, this card may be a good fit.

Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®

Apply

on Capital One's website

Apply

on Capital One's website

APR

17.99% - 26.99% (Variable)

Intro APR: N/A

Rewards

5% cash back on Walmart.com

2% cash back on Dining & Travel

2% cash back on Walmart In-store Purchases

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Annual Fee

$0

If you plan to do a lot of your shopping at Walmart and don't want to deal with a cap on your bonus rewards, the Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® could be a good fit.

Another card accessible for fair-credit borrowers, it offers unlimited 5% cash back on Walmart.com purchases, which includes both pickup and delivery. You'll also get 2% back on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% back on purchases made at Walmart stores (including fuel), and 1% back on everything else.

As a new cardholder, you'll earn 5% cash back at Walmart stores instead of the standard 2% back for the first 12 months when you add your card to Walmart Pay and use that to make your purchases. This will help you boost cash back over the holidays and beyond.

Many store credit cards limit how and where you can use your rewards. But with this one, you'll get straight cash back that you can use however you want. The card doesn't charge an annual fee.

Which Cash Back Credit Card Should You Use for Holiday Spending?

There's no single best credit card for everyone, so it's important to consider your spending habits and what you want to get out of your new card.

For example, if you're tight on cash but don't want to skimp on the holidays, a card with an intro 0% APR promotion could save you a lot on interest charges (as long as you pay them off before the standard APR kicks in). Or, if you're hoping to maximize your cash back rewards, a card with an intro cash bonus and high rewards rates may be the best fit.

It's also important to consider your credit score before you apply. Again, most of the top cash back credit cards are targeted to people with good credit. Check your credit score and get an idea of the credit requirements for the card you want to make sure you have a good chance of getting approved.

Find out if you're matched with any of these cards with Experian CreditMatch™. You can view and compare multiple cards based on your credit profile.