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Cash Back Cards Perfect for Early Holiday Gift Shopping

A woman sitting on the floor holding a coffee with her laptop open and surrounded by wrapped gifts.

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Early holiday gift shopping is a decision no one regrets. You don’t need to deal with packed malls, rush shipping charges, or stress over popular items being out of stock. And if you’re smart about when you shop for holiday gifts, it also makes sense to think ahead about the credit cards you’ll use to pay for them.

This is where knowing which cards to pick can pay off big time. The best cash back cards for holiday gift shopping are ones that get you bonuses at major retailers. It’s also a plus to find cards with 0% intro APRs on purchases. We strongly recommend you stick to a holiday budget and don’t overspend on gifts, but zero-interest offers are obviously useful if you need some extra time to pay off your holiday spending.

All the cards on this list have bonus categories that line up well with holiday shopping, and none of them charge an annual fee.

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back earns 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories you activate each quarter. Discover even matches your cash back after the first year, so you’re essentially getting 10% back overall in bonus categories from that sign-up bonus.

For this holiday season, Discover’s popular cash back card will offer 5% back at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Target.com from October to December. If you plan to do your gift shopping online, you’ll be able to earn a lot back with three of the biggest retailers in the world.

This card also has a 0% intro APR on purchases (and balance transfers) for 14 months.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card also has rotating bonus categories, but it does things a bit differently. It lets you choose two categories every quarter where you’ll earn 5% back on up to $2,000 in combined purchases.

Several of this card’s bonus category options could include stores where you’d buy holiday gifts. For example, you could choose to earn 5% back at:

  • Department stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Select clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores

Those bonus categories alone are valuable, plus you’ll get a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on eligible purchases within 90 days of opening this card.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

If you’re an Amazon Prime member and that’s where you plan to pick up gifts, then the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must-have. It earns an unlimited 5% back on all your purchases at Amazon and Whole Foods.

To put that into perspective, if you spend $1,000 on Amazon purchases this holiday season, you’d get $50 back. This Amazon credit card also includes an instant $100 gift card as soon as your application is approved, which is an easy way to save some extra money.

Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®

The Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® provides plenty of value for frequent Walmart shoppers. It earns 5% back at Walmart.com, including both pickup and delivery orders. At Walmart stores, it normally earns 2% back, but the introductory offer provides one important exception. During the first 12 months, you’ll earn 5% back when you use this card in Walmart stores with Walmart Pay.

That means you can get 5% back whether you use your Walmart credit card online or in-store (for the first 12 months). You just need to download Walmart Pay and make sure you use it when you’re shopping at Walmart. As an added bonus, the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® also earns 2% back at restaurants and on travel.

Target RedCard

The Target RedCard comes in three variations: a debit card, a credit card that works only at Target, and a Mastercard that works anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Regardless of which version you get, it’s super simple to use. You’ll get 5% off all eligible Target purchases, in-store and online.

This card can also eliminate your shipping costs when you buy gifts online because you’ll get free shipping on most items. It provides an additional 30 days for returns and exchanges, just in case a recipient decides a gift isn’t for them. And through Oct. 10, 2020, it offers a $40 discount on a future qualifying purchase of over $40.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Rounding out the list is one more cash back card with rotating bonus categories. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly purchases in bonus categories that you must activate. It also offers several other bonus categories on top of that, a $200 bonus when you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months, and a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases.

For the fourth quarter of 2020, October through December, this card’s rotating bonus categories cover spending at Walmart and purchases made using PayPal. Walmart may stand out more for holiday gifts, but don’t discount the value that PayPal offers. Many retailers offer it as an online and in-store payment option, so it’s a great way to maximize your rewards using your Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Bringing home bonus cash back this holiday season

Holiday gifts may be an area where you spend a lot, but it’s also an area where you can get a lot back. If you pay with a quality cash back card, you could earn bonus rewards on all your holiday spending and potentially save even more courtesy of some valuable sign-up bonuses.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)

As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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