Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

By Curtis ArnoldCardRatings.com

If you think you'll need some help from your credit cards this holiday season, you're not alone. FedEx predicts a 10% increase in year-over-year shipments this holiday season, signaling a boom in online bargain hunting.

But you probably won't give up shopping at your favorite retail stores, either. American retailers will hire nearly half a million seasonal workers to help with this year's gift-giving crush, according to the National Retail Federation. In all, the NRF estimates that we'll spend 2.8% more on our holiday gifts, travel, and meals this year compared to last year.

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This article features six credit card offers that can stretch your holiday budget in different ways depending on your financial needs:

Best credit card for Thanksgiving & Black Friday

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express offers some of the industry's best cash back rewards all year long. A hefty 6% cash back on groceries will come in extra handy when covering the costs of lavish holiday dinners. If you manage to shake off your food coma in time for Black Friday shopping deals, you'll enjoy a 3% cash back rebate at department stores.

AmEx saves its best rewards credit cards for consumers with excellent credit, but if you don't make the cut, you may qualify for something nearly as good: the Blue Cash Everyday Card that offers 3% at grocery stores and 2% at department stores, with no annual fee.

Need to spread holiday purchases through the New Year?

Citi Dividend World MasterCard wants to lighten your holiday debt with a $200 signup bonus after you spend $500 in your first three months with the card. Between Oct. 1, 2011 and when the 2012 ball drops in Times Square, you'll also be eligible for a 5% cash back rebate on purchases at department stores, clothing boutiques, electronics stores and toy stores. The cash back reward caps at $300 per calendar year, except there is no limit on cash back on purchases made through the Citi Bonus Cash Center. In addition, Citi's balance transfer credit card offer can save you even more money by offering 0% interest for 15 months.

Best credit card for holiday dining and giving

Chase Freedom Visa has extended its own $200 signup bonus, offering its own quarterly 5% cash back reward promotion through the end-of-2011 holidays. Chase Freedom's rebate special lets you earn extra rewards on up to $1,500 in purchases at department stores, movie theaters, and dining. If you're planning on an evening of entertainment after you wrap up your holiday shopping, Chase has you covered. At the same time, Chase makes it easy to think about others this holiday season, with a 5% cash back rebate on charitable donations.

Best credit card for holiday travel

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card has already become one of the most sought-after credit cards for frequent overseas travelers. Originally developed for military personnel and their families, this privately issued American Express card can help you achieve your dream of a memorable vacation abroad. Unlike many of the best airline credit cards, this PenFed credit card doesn't charge currency conversion or foreign transaction fees.

Even if your travel plans keep you inside the 50 states, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express card offers 5 times the usual bonus points for all travel related purchases. You don't even have to be in the military to join PenFed. A one-time donation to an affiliated nonprofit organization will make you eligible to become a member in this fast-growing credit union. American Express researchers report that three in 10 Americans will travel this year, making a rewards credit card essential to combat rising airfares and gas prices.

Best credit card for buying business gifts

Capital One Spark Cash for Business has started showing up in mailboxes, just in time for corporate gifting. Capital One's new small business credit card offers a simple 2% cash back rebate on all purchases, plus a signup bonus of up to $150. If you've been looking for a way to keep your personal expenses separate from your business reimbursements, Spark can keep your purchase history straight while offering you an unlimited stream of automatic statement credits. Issue extra Capital One credit cards for your employees, and you'll earn rebates on all of their purchases, as well.

Best credit card to turn holiday cheer into campus credit

Bank of America's Upromise MasterCard links your holiday spending to a special 529 college savings program that turns your usual cash back rewards into a child's future tuition payments. 1% of all your everyday purchases automatically show up in your savings account, where your contributions will grow, tax free, until your designated child reaches college age.

Upromise has assembled a network of brands that offer bonus deposit rewards, ranging from 2% rebates at participating gas stations to 10% on selected grocery and drugstore purchases. Upromise also operates an online shopping portal where purchases will earn an additional 2% rebate. It's an effortless way to save for a child's education.

Compare credit cards

Remember to compare credit cards carefully before applying. This time of year, retail stores want to encourage new account signups at checkout. If you make too many new applications, you can put a temporary ding in your credit report that can disqualify you from the best credit card deals…not to mention potentially leaving you with a debt hangover after the celebrations are over.

The original article can be found at CardRatings.com:Best credit cards for holiday shopping

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