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Published on November 22, 2013 | Updated on August 27, 2015
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Man your battle stations! The holiday shopping season is upon us, and we’re running out of time! Down in the trenches, a good credit card will be your most reliable weapon. Cash is clumsy and cumbersome, and debit cards offer few of the same perks and protections. A wallet equipped with the right plastic will prove an indispensable tool for consumers this holiday season. If you act quick, it’s not too late to pick up a new card before diving into the melee. Here are a few of the best cards for holiday purchases in 2013.
For online shopping
As we sail ever onward into the 21st century, more and more of our shopping is done in a virtual setting. That’s why this year we’re placing the Discover it®-New! Double Cash Back your first year at the top of our holiday credit card list. It offers 5% cashback in bonus categories that rotate quarterly throughout the year. Earlier in 2013, you could have earned 5% rewards on restaurant purchases, movies, gas and more. From now until the end of the year, cardholders can earn 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases made online–that’s a potential $75 in bonus rewards. All purchases that fall outside of the bonus categories earn an unlimited 1%. Additionally, new cardholders are treated to 0% on purchases for 12 months and 0% on balance transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of
10.99% - 22.99% Variable. The best part? The $0 annual fee.
For holiday travel
Have travel plans this holiday season? A good travel credit card will be your best friend. Our current favorite is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. It starts you off with a solid bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. That’s worth 5% more when you redeem as a statement credit against travel expenses. Ongoing rewards accumulate at 2 points per dollar spent, which is an exceptionally high base rate by any standards. Points can be redeemed for statement credits to offset any travel expense, including flights with any airline, stays at any hotel and car rentals with any service. The annual fee is $89 - Waived first year .
For big purchases
If you’re throwing down some serious dough this year and need a little time to pay of the purchases, you’ll want the best APR deal you can find. The Citi Simplicity® Card offers the longest introductory APR out there: 0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 22.99% Variable . That’s a full year and a half of interest-free financing on this year’s holiday purchases. To sweeten the deal, the Citi Simplicity® Card doesn’t charge late fees or penalty rates, meaning you’ll be shown mercy if you can’t make a payment. Of course, this isn’t a free pass to go nuts and buy everything you’ve ever dreamed of owning. You will have to pay back what you borrow eventually. Be careful.
For consumer protections
Many credit cards can provide shoppers with an additional layer of protection. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a prime example. When you pay for an item with your card, you can extend its manufacturer warranty by up to a year. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express’s purchase protection perk provides insurance against damages and theft when the incident occurs within 90 days of the purchase. Similarly, the return protection policy guarantees refunds for items if the seller refuses to take them back. There is a 90-day and $300 limit for each return. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express also has an awesome rewards system that earns 6% at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations and department stores and 1% everywhere else. Finally, it comes with a signup bonus: Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
Santa image courtesy of Shutterstock