It seems as though every Christmas I come up short of cash. I always say that I’m going to start saving earlier, but let’s face it, who wants to save money for something that seems so far away? However, this year I plan to start saving without even noticing. How, you might ask? By using my credit card! By using credit cards that offer rewards such as gift cards and cash back, you can start saving for the next holiday season without even thinking about it. If you’re ready to get a jump start on the holidays, check out the top credit cards for 2014 to help you set aside some extra Christmas cash:
1. Blue Cash Preferred
If the majority of your credit card purchases tend to be at gas stations and grocery stores, then check out Blue Cash Preferred from American Express. This card, which offers one of the highest cash-back rates out there, is geared specifically towards people like you. Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on all groceries—up to $6,000 a year! If you spent the full $6,000 a year at grocery stores, you would earn $360 cash back by the end of the year just by doing your regular grocery shopping. Even if you don’t typically spend that much on groceries, cash back can accumulate quickly by purchasing all of your gift cards at your local supermarket. In other areas, Blue Cash Preferred offers 3% rewards at gas stations and department stores. Although the Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee of $75, they often have sign-up bonuses, such as their current offer of a free Amazon Prime membership and $100 in rewards points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
2. Discover It
If you like the idea of earning more rewards on categories that rotate, check out Discover It from Discover. Using this card, you’ll earn 5% back (up to $1,500) in categories that change every quarter (for example, restaurants and movie theaters). In addition to the rotating categories, Discover It rewards users with 1% cash back on all other purchases with no limit! How much does this add up to? If you spent the full $1,500 in bonus categories each quarter plus another $5,000 throughout the year on other categories, you would end up with about $350 in rewards! In addition to cash back, Discover It also offers the added perks of no annual fees, $0 fraud liability, no foreign transaction fees, and a free FICO credit score on your monthly statement.
3. Chase Freedom
Like the Discover It card, Chase Freedom also offers cardholders 5% cash back (up to $1,500) on categories that rotate every quarter. If you’re worried that those rotating categories consisting of things that you would never buy, you may be surprised to learn that they include movie theaters, gas stations, and even Amazon and Starbucks! Cardholders also receive 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases as well as a $100 bonus as long as you make $500 in purchases within the first three months of opening the card. Chase Freedom has no annual fee, and cardholders can redeem rewards for gift cards or cash back in the form of a statement credit, direct deposit, or check.
4. True Earning from Costco and American Express
If you have a Costco membership or have considered getting one, True Earning may be the card for you. This American Express card, which carries no annual fee with a paid Costco membership, offers a solid cash back program. With True Earning, cardholders earn 3% cash back at gas stations (up to $4,000 a year), 2% back at restaurants and for travel purchases, and 1% back on everything else. That means that if you typically spend $50 a week on gas, $50 a week at restaurants, and $150 a week on other random goods, you would manage to save a tidy sum of $208 by the year’s end! Other perks to the True Earning card include purchase protection, extended warranties, and car rental coverage.
5. Citi Thank You Preferred
I love cards that reward you with bonus points when you open a new account, and Citi Thank You Preferred is one that tops the list. After you spend $1,500 in purchases within three months of opening, this card rewards you with $20,000 bonus points. That’s enough for $200 worth of gift cards! You’ll also earn two points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment and one point on everything else. That means that if you typically spend about $2,500 a year on dining and another $2,500 on random merchandise, you would garner a total of $275 (including the sign-up bonus) by year’s end! The Citi Thank You Preferred also boasts no annual fee and the ability to earn unlimited points.