Top Holiday Credit Cards of 2014
In the United States, the holiday season is synonymous with shopping, and credit cards have become an indispensable part of the experience. Unfortunately, many shoppers end up applying for store credit cards during checkout, which offer less competitive terms and benefits than other cards.
So which credit cards should holiday shoppers apply for if they want to use the best cards? It all depends on what they value in a credit card. Here are some of the top credit cards this season, one of which is right for you:
Travel reward credit cards
Travel can be one of the most valuable credit card rewards as there are few things as alluring as an award trip.
Chase Sapphire Preferred. This rewards card is offering new applicants 40,000 bonus points when they make just $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. While these Ultimate Rewards points could be worth $400 towards cash back, merchandise, or gift cards, or $500 worth of travel reservations booked through Chase, savvy cardholders can do even better by transferring these rewards to airline miles or hotel points. For example, 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Southwest Airlines points, which are worth $560 in airfare.
And just 9,000 points transferred to British Airways is enough for a round trip award on partner airlines American and US Airways for flights between cities within 650 miles of each other, since British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Since American and US Airways are partners of British Airways, round-trip flights can be booked between places like Birmingham AL and Chicago, or Charlotte and New York, for just 9,000 points round-trip, a great deal for those who know about it!
This card offers double miles on all travel and dining expenses, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Capital One Venture Rewards. New applicants receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending just $3,000 in three months, which are worth $400 in statement credits towards any travel expense. Cardholders simply book airfare, hotels, rental cars, or cruises the way they normally do, and then they can use their miles to pay for their travel. Cardholders also earn double miles on all purchases, with no limits or expiration dates. There is a $59 annual fee that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. Like the Capital One Venture Rewards, Barclaycard’s Arrival plus also offers 50,000 bonus miles after new applicants spend just $3,000 within three months of account opening. These miles are also worth $500 as travel statement credits, except cardholders will receive a 5% rebate on their miles redeemed, so ultimately this bonus is worth $525. In addition, cardholders earn double miles on all purchases with no limit or expiration. This card also has no foreign transaction fees and is one of the only cards offered in the United States that is compatible with the latest Chip and Pin system in use in many countries, not just Chip and Signature. There is a $89 annual fee that is waived the first year.
Cash back rewards and promotional financing
For those who value cash back over travel rewards, and those looking for interest free financing on their new purchases, here are two cards that offer impressive terms:
Chase Freedom. Freedom is a popular card as it offers not just 1% cash back on all purchases, but 5% cash back at select categories of merchants, on up to $1,500 of eligible spending each quarter. For the fourth quarter of 2014, bonus categories include all purchases from Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and select department stores. New applicants receive an additional $100 cash back when they use their card to make just $500 in purchases within three months of account opening. Freedom also offers 15 months of interest free financing on both balance transfers and new purchases, with a 3% balance transfer fee. There is no annual fee for this card.
Discover it. This offer for the Discover it card features 14 months of interest free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Cardholders also receive 1% cash back on all purchases, and 5% cash back at eligible merchants, on up to $1,500 of qualifying spending each quarter. In November and December of 2014, all online shopping and department store purchases are eligible for the bonus cash back. Furthermore, the Discover card is renowned for its customer service that features 100% US based telephone representatives and a policy of automatically waiving customer’s first late fee. There is no annual fee for this card.
For cardholders who are looking for interest free financing of their holiday purchases, and a 0% balance transfer, this is the most attractive option:
Chase Slate. This is the only major credit card currently offered with 0% APR on balance transfers and no balance transfer fee. New applicants receive 15 months of interest free financing on both balance transfers and new purchases, so this is the perfect offer for those who need a break from interest charges while they work on paying off their balance. There is no annual fee for this card.