I generally try on keep on top of the points and miles news. If there’s anything breaking, like a big credit card launch or revamp, I’ll jump on that. Other times, like what spawned today’s topic, I just kind of jot ideas down and then get to them. I keep this list, and on it, I wrote, best credit card for Christmas Shopping. Sounds simple enough. But it isn’t. One thing became really obvious, there’s not exactly a Christmas store. There’s not one place everyone is going to do their holiday shopping. This is not going to be as easy as I thought. But, hey let’s give it a try anyway.
I think we need to segment our market a little bit. On the most macro level, we’ve got our traditional retail shoppers, who deserve a medal for bravery, and we’ve got the practical online’ists.
Let’s start with that first group, the traditional retail shoppers. First off, what are you guys doing? Even if you really enjoy the tactile sensation of going to a physical store and picking something up, you’re likely missing out on points. I’m talking about shopping portals. The one I’m most familiar with is Chase’s.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, or think it sounds scammy, let me explain how it works. When I click-through, to say Home Depot from Chase’s site, a little cookie keeps track of this. When I subsequently make a purchase from Home Depot, Chase gets a little advertising fee for the referral. In turn, they pass a piece of that back to me. It’s a win-win. Technically, you’re supposed to use the card associated with the account you’re logged in to. But I’ve found in practice, it works no matter how you pay. Your mileage may vary, but that’s the way it should be. In the example just used, Chase gets a commission regardless of how I pay, so why should it matter what card is used?
So right away, we see the opportunity to double-dip. That is, the chance to earn points from multiple sources on the same transaction. A quick little way to turbo-charge your Christmas shopping earnings.
Now let’s talk about the retail establishment I love to hate, Best Buy. Chase will provide an additional point per dollar, worth 2.19¢, if the purchase is made when referred by the card issuer. It’s also worth pointing out, that there are a lot of vendors in Chase’s portal. Not just traditional retail ones with eCommerce sites.
Here’s another look at it, but sorted by earn rate. We’ve got a bunch of garbage ones, really just places where one vastly overpays for things. They’ve got the margins to dish out fat rebates. The only thing worthwhile I see here is eBags, I’ve had good luck with them before.
Cards by Retailer
Getting back to the Beast Buy, and we start with a dishonorable mention for those who have a weird affinity for the retailer. Their co-branded Visa from Citi. It earns 5% back on purchases made in-store or online. I use 5% very loosely, as points earned can only result in Best Buy vouchers. Every 250 points gets one 5 Best Buy dollars. I personally hate an award currency that is tied to a certain vendor, unless that vendor is Amazon. For that reason alone, I’d avoid this card. That, and because I’d sooner take life advice from Charles Manson than enter that God-forsaken blue and yellow Hell hole.
Our number 4 option for Christmas shopping at Best Buy is the Citi DoubleCash. Offering a simple 2% cashback, one when you buy, and one when you pay.
Moving up we’ve got number 3, the American Express EveryDay Preferred. I value Membership rewards at 2.26¢ a piece, and you earn 1 of them per dollar, plus a 50% bonus if the card is used 30 times or more during a billing cycle
Number 2 is the Chase Freedom Unlimited if paired with an Ultimate Rewards earning card – 3.285%. That’s calculated by taking 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar and multiplying by the Points Reckoning value of 2.19¢ a piece.
Finally, our best option for purchases at Best Buy is the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa – 3.46%. 2 Venture Rewards per dollar @ 1.73¢ per point.
Earn Points at Costco
Sticking with our traditional retail theme, let’s talk Costco, the only place besides Amazon I buy anything not edible. We’ve got some great options here, not the least of which is Costco’s outstanding return policy, which means any unwanted Christmas gifts can easily be swapped out. On the negative side, we’re a little limited as Costco only accepts Visa’s. Amex, Mastercard and Discover are out.
On the bottom we’ve got number 4, the Costco Anywhere Visa – a simple 2% cash back on all Costco purchases.
Number 3, the Chase Freedom Unlimited if paired with an Ultimate Rewards earning card – 3.285%.
Number 2, the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa – 3.46%, 2 Venture Rewards per dollar @ 1.73¢ per point.
Finally, we’ve got something real girthy at number one, the standard Chase Freedom if paired with an Ultimate Rewards earning card – 10.95%. It just so happens that this quarter’s bonus category on that card is warehouse clubs, so Costco shoppers are really in for it. 2.19¢ per point times 5 get’s us to that earn rate.
Earn Points on Discount Shopping
Rounding out our traditional retail shopping experience is Walmart. At the number 4 position is the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card – 2.26-3.39% – One Membership Reward per dollar spent plus a 50% bonus if the card is used 30 or more times in a billing period.
At the number 3 spot is Walmart’s own in-house credit card. It provides a straightforward 3% cashback on all purchases made at the retailer.
Our number one and two options are the ones that just keep popping up, the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa.
Earn Points on the Interwebs
I’ve saved what is likely everyone’s most important Holiday Nexus for last, Amazon. It’s actually gotten kind of ridiculous what percentage of my Christmas shopping is done here. Starting us off at number 5 is the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card, again at 2.26-3.39%.
The 4-spot belongs to Amazon’s own co-branded Chase Visa. It will provide shoppers 3% cashback, to be used at Amazon, on all purchases made at Mr. Bezos’ store as well as Whole Foods.
Spots 2 and 3 belong to the duo that just keeps popping up, the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
My number one pick for purchases made at Amazon this Christmas season goes to a card issuer that just doesn’t get much attention in the points and miles world. I’m talking about Discover and their It cash back card. Much like the standard Freedom, the Discover It uses a quarterly calendar to switch up their bonus categories. It just so happens, this quarter that bonus goes to Amazon. 5% to be exact.
There are a lot of retailers, both online and off that I could have covered, but didn’t, because of a lack of familiarity or time constraints. Depending on how this article does, I might do a follow up. I’m thinking eBay, Home Depot, Lowes, Etsy or something else entirely. I don’t know, but would like some input. If anyone has a suggestion, go ahead and drop that in the comments below.