The best credit cards for holiday shopping

The holidays can be a very stressful time of the year, especially when it comes to shopping for family and friends. The malls are packed, stores are slashing deals and the only thing missing is a spending strategy to make the most out of your money. Fortunately for you, credit cards can provide the right spending limits, convenience and protection to help you smoothly complete those last holiday woes.

However, this is only if the most suitable credit card is used. The hard, cold fact is that credit cards are different and no two are alike. Each credit card has its own features, safety protections, spending limits, and, most importantly, reward systems. In order to make the most out of your credit card, it is crucial to find the perfect one for you. Before actually going into the actual credit card comparison, it is best to take a look at the features consumers generally overlook. Why? This is mainly because credit card companies do not usually advertise these features as heavily as, perhaps, interest rates or annual fees. Yet, these features do play a large role in making the most out of your credit card or cards this holiday season.

While many do insist on paying cash, credit cards do have a few neat features of their own. Despite many of the criticisms surrounding credit cards including fraud, spending limits, identity theft and more, credit cards still present major opportunities of their own. A little known feature offered by most major credit card companies is price matching. Traditionally speaking, price matching involves bringing in the flyer to a competitor’s retail store in order to receive the same price on the item you wish to buy. Guess what! Credit card companies are offering the exact same service to make sure you get the best deal on your item.

Let’s illustrate in a scenario. You stand in line outside at 4 a.m. in the morning waiting for the doors to open so you can grab all the Black Friday goodies. After satisfying your cravings, you go home and enjoy those goodies. Later in the year, let’s say Boxing Day, you realize that the same items you’ve purchased just became cheaper. What do you do? You could live with the fact that you paid more for the same item, return it and re-buy it at a discount or simply just let your credit card company handle the price difference. You credit card company can actually let you recoup the difference so you get the best deal possible.

In addition to price matching or price protection, credit cards also offer instant rewards. Many credit cards now come with a cash rebate system. Certain items or categories of items have cash back rewards. Some credit cards offer a one percent cash back reward on all purchases. However, not all credit cards share these same features. Some credit cards have restrictions such as rebates only apply to groceries or just gasoline so it is essential to identify just which consumer goods these rebate features are eligible for.

As mentioned earlier, the credit cards do face criticisms of their own. The biggest issue surrounding credit cards is fraudulent spending. Luckily, the Federal statute Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) limits consumer liability to $50. However, chances are, the credit card will be deactivated. Due to the frequent swiping and need to pull it out, it will be noticeable once the card is gone.

Finally, credit cards offer something cash just can’t compare. If you’ve ever purchased anything expensive, then you’ve probably paid for extended warranty in case it breaks down. If you did, then chances are you spent more money than you should have. The same extended warranty policy is actually free. It’s just one way credit companies show their appreciation for using their service. Now that these hidden credit card features are revealed, it’s time to compare the credit cards that offer these features to make the most out of your holiday shopping experience.

Chase Sapphire credit card

The Chase Sapphire credit card will reward credit card holders with 10,000 points once they spend $500. According to their point conversation rate, 10,000 points is equivalent to $100 in rewards. You can pretty much consider this as paying $400 for the $500 worth of goods. What about after a long day of shopping? The Chase Sapphire credit card doesn’t just stop here.

It also rewards you double the points for dining at restaurants helping you reach the rewards conversion much faster. Best of all, this card is great for those that don’t wish to pay an annual fee. This is by far one of the freedom cards with no earnings cap or points expiration so you can spend whenever you want and how much you want.

Citi ThankYou Preferred credit card

Just like the first, there are no annual fees and 0 percent Intro-APR. This card is for the more intensive shoppers. Citi will reward 20,000 points after a spending of $1,500 has been reached in the first three months. 20,000 points translates to $200 in rewards. Finally, to really use this card, it is important to live it up. The Citi ThankYou rewards double the points on restaurants and entertainment. Once again, points do not expire and can be redeemed for almost anything from a wide selection of electronics, books, media, travel, prepaid cards, and more.

Barclaycard Arrival

The Barclaycard Arrival offers some serious rewards for the serious traveler. The card offers 40,000 points once $1,000 has been spent in the first three months. 40,000 points is equivalent to $400 in travel rewards. Furthermore, the card offers twice the bonus points on all purchases helping shoppers reach their destination in half the time compared to competitors. Don’t stop there because redeemers will be rewarded with a 10 percent rebate on their next trip.

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday is the ultimate cash back rewards card. This is for the everyday shopper just trying to pay for necessities. Whether be it groceries or gasoline, shoppers are eligible for a cash back. The cash back rewards works in three tiers. A 3 percent cash back applies for all grocery purchases, 2 percent cash back for gas station and department store purchases, and finally 1% cash back on everything else. What’s more, this card carries no annual fee and rewards can be redeemed in the form of statement credits.

Discover It

Not to fear, there’s also a card for the seasonal shopper. The Discover It offers 5 percent cash back on anything that falls in its monthly category calender. For example, October to December is the online shopping time. 5 percent cash back applies to everything ordered online. What’s more, there are no foreign transaction fees, 0 percent APR, and rewards can be used at Amazon checkout. For all other purchases, a 1 percent cash back is rewarded.

These are five credit cards that offer a little for everyone. Hopefully, this will help make holiday shopping more rewarding. Make sure to keep track of your spending limits and it is always a good idea to set up SMS alerts to track those unauthorized purchases immediately. Deactivate any stolen cards immediately helps to prevent against credit card fraud and storing your credit cards in a safe place will also prevent theft.