These Credit Cards Can Help You Save for Holiday Gifts

Holiday gifts can be expensive,let these credit cards help you get the best possible deals.

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Discussions of the winter holidays in July may cause you to react with groans or eye-rolls. But if you find yourself struggling to afford gifts for your loved ones every year when the holidays roll around, you could benefit from starting a holiday savings plan early.

Cash back credit cards put money back in your pocket so you can save for the holiday season. Here are five credit cards that may be able to help you afford this year’s holiday gifts.

1. Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Rewards: 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual spending at supermarkets, 2% cash back at gas stations and certain department stores and 1% cash back everywhere else
Signup Bonus: $100 bonus cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first three months (offer may vary)
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 24.99%
Why We Picked It: Everyday purchases can earn you cash back, and there’s a nice little signup bonus to boot.
For the Holiday Season: Commonplace purchases such as groceries and gas earn special cash back rates, with everything else earning 1% cash back. Plus, you’ll get a bonus cash back just in time for the holidays.
Drawbacks: If you don’t spend much at supermarkets, gas stations or participating department stores, this card won’t hold as much value.

2. Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 3% back at Amazon.com (5% if you also have Amazon Prime), 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $50 Amazon gift card (upon approval)
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 15.24% to 23.24%
Why We Picked It: This card earns extra rewards when you shop at Amazon.com and more, and rewards can be redeemed for future gifts.
For the Holiday Season: The card earns a percentage back on all purchases, with special rewards rates at Amazon.com, restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. Your rewards come in the form of points, which can be redeemed for future Amazon.com purchases and gift cards. You’ll also get a bonus $50 Amazon gift card right out of the gate that you can use to order those gifts.
Drawbacks: If you don’t do much shopping at Amazon.com, or don’t plan on doing so, this card probably isn’t ideal for you.

3. Chase Freedom

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter for rotating spending categories, unlimited1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% APR for 15 months, then variable 15.99% to 24.74%
Why We Picked It: Spending categories that earn 5% cash back and a signup bonus can help you save fast.
For the Holiday Season: You’ll earn 5% cash back on spending categories that rotate each quarter; past categories include gas stations and grocery stores. You can also earn a $150 signup bonus for spending $500 in three months, which is a fairly low spending threshold.
Drawbacks: You have to do the work of tracking and activating bonus spending categories with this card.

4. Citi Double Cash

Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% on payments
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% for 15 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: By the time you pay off your purchases, you’ll have earned a flat 2% cash back on everything you buy. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
For the Holiday Season: All purchases earn 2% cash back by the time they’re paid off, so you’ll be earning a great cash back rate on everything on this card.
Drawbacks: You won’t get your full cash back until you pay your balance.

5. QuicksilverOne From Capital One

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $39
APR: Variable 24.99%
Why We Picked It: Consumers with average credit can still get in on cash back savings.
For the Holiday Season: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back, which can help you save up a decent holiday fund.
Drawbacks: There’s an annual fee and an above-average APR with this card.

Choosing a Credit Card to Save for the Holiday Season

Shoppers can use cash back rewards to start saving for holiday gifts. When choosing a card to help you save, you’ll want to pick one that rewards the types of purchases you make. If you mostly spend at a few specific types of merchants, you may want a card that offers special cash back rates at those merchant types. However, if you tend to spend at a wide variety of merchants, you may want a card with rotating purchase categories or a solid flat cash back rate on everything.

Cash back rewards can usually be redeemed for statement credits, but some cards also offer redemption options for gift cards, bank account transfers and merchandise. Make sure to pick a card with redemption options that will most benefit your holiday savings plan.

Remember, a cash back card earns the most value when you pay your balance in full each month.

What Credit Is Required for a Card That Helps Save for Gifts?

Cards with cash back rewards usually require good to excellent credit (although there’s at least one card on this list available to consumers with average credit). Before you apply, you’ll want to check your credit score to be reasonably confident in your chances of approval. You can check two of your credit scores free on Credit.com.

Image: andresr

At publishing time, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, Chase Freedom, Citi Double Cash, and QuicksilverOne From Capital One credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post These Credit Cards Can Help You Save for Holiday Gifts appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

Father and daughter donating toys at Christmas charity drive

Why is it ‘better to give than to receive?’ Simply put, because it’s good for you. Studies have shown over and over that gift giving can have major psychological and sociological benefits.

An act of altruism, or acting in someone else’s interest, actually releases endorphins in your brain and helps prolong your life.

Another benefit of giving — for those of us trying to avoid racking up credit card debt this holiday season — is that it doesn’t have to cost a thing. This holiday season, you can give your time, resources, or talents to benefit others. 

We’ve put together 5 easy, convenient, and wallet-friendly ways to give the gift of service this holiday season.

Get the Whole Family Involved

The best part about giving is that it’s easy to get the whole family involved.

Start a giving game with your family members. For example, for each gift a child receives, the family must agree to donate a gift or toy to a special cause.

Another option: have every member write a note saying what they are grateful for about each family member. Then, get together and have each person read the notes about themselves. Add a discussion afterward to drive the lesson home.

Crowd gifting platform, iSow, is one way to teach your kids about finance and philanthropy this season. You can create accounts for your kid and teach them to set savings goals. When the holidays come around, family and friends can ‘gift’ money to these accounts and help your kid reach their goal.

iSow has partnered with KidsShoes.com this season for a #KidsHelpingKids Campaign. To participate, all your child would have to do is assign one of their goals to a kids-related cause. For each kid that signs up, KidsShoes.com gives the first donation up to $10,000.

Cook or Deliver a Meal

Enjoy your holiday feast with the knowledge that you’ve done something to help others go to sleep with a full stomach, too.

Consider donating your culinary talents or time to an organization that delivers or serves meals during the holidays. Call your local Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, veterans or hospice organizations to sign up to help deliver meals or ask if they need help with other services.

Make sure to call at least a few weeks in advance as you might need to receive special training and these organizations may have a spike in volunteer requests during the holidays.

Make Holiday Cards for Those Away From Home

If you are lucky to spend the holiday with your family, consider sending a card, letter, or gift to those who aren’t as fortunate. Every year, thousands of well-wishers send holiday greetings to deployed military personnel, hospitalized patients, and those who work to keep our communities running while we celebrate, such as firemen and the police.

To write to military personnel, try contacting a letter-writing organization like Operation Gratitude, Soldier’s Angels, or Operation We Are Here to get the information you’d need.

Call your local hospital and ask to ask for permission to make get well cards, or send gifts for patients who are hospitalized over the holiday season. Get an idea of how many cards or gifts you’d need to make or collect to make sure everyone gets one. Round up some friends and family to help you get everything together.

Donate Money or Items to a Drive

Another easy and fun way to get friends and family in the giving spirit is to join or set up a donation drive that could benefit your community. The options are endless. A few ideas:

Arrange to collect canned food for an organization supporting the homeless or a local food pantry.

Have a yard sale to raise funds for a non-profit organization you care about.

Host a party where guests can bring a toy drive to donate to an organization that gives them to chronically ill children such as Andrew’s Toy Box. 

Set a goal on crowdfunding sites such as Crowdrise, Razoo, Causes, or Indiegogo and raise money from friends and family to donate to a charity or cause you are passionate about.

Collect new or lightly used children’s’ books from your coworkers to donate to a local elementary school’s library (they can be added to the library or sold for money to benefit the library).

Always make sure to call ahead and ask (1) if the organization, school, etc. accepts donations, and (2) what kinds of items the organization needs most. Calling beforehand helps ensure your donation will be helpful to them.

You can also participate in national gift drives such as Toys for Tots, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, or Christmas Toy Drive. These organizations have deadlines and rules to donate so be sure to visit their websites or contact them for that information. 

Give Songs & Smiles

Bring back to life an old-school tradition and go caroling. Practice a few songs with family or friends and share your talents with those in a local homeless shelter or elderly home. Again, call them first to make sure it’s okay. You could also consider making a few baked goods and stop by a police station or firehouse, or hospital to give them to holiday workers to enjoy as you sing.

The post 5 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season appeared first on MagnifyMoney.