THE BLOG

Top Credit Cards to Use for Holiday Shopping

11/17/2010 02:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Start your engines, shoppers! It's that time of year when we all dig into our pockets to spread a little cheer. If you can't afford to dig too deep -- and who can? -- consider using one of these cards to save a little money.

From now through December 31, 2010, Chase Freedom offers 5 percent cash back on purchases up to $1,500 at department stores, grocery stores and movie theaters. This is in addition to the full 1 percent cash back you'll earn on all other purchases from the first dollar spent.

You know how confusing it can be to redeem rewards? Well, Chase Freedom makes it easy to redeem rewards for gifts. That nephew who's addicted to high-tech gadgets? You can get discounted gift cards redeemable for electronics. You can also get discounted gift cards for fashion, books, home décor, dining and more. For as little as $20, you can redeem points for a gift card that's worth $25 -- a 25 percent bonus. Do you love to go to the movies? Each month, the first 25,000 Chase Freedom cardholders who buy two movie tickets get a third one free.

And if all that isn't enough for you, check this out: This card also has a $100 sign-up bonus if you spend $799 within the first three months of opening your account.

We all love Amazon.com, don't we? It's just so convenient to hop online and browse for deals. No looking for parking spaces or dealing with rude shoppers.

Now, your Amazon loyalty has been rewarded. Amazon rewards points are redeemable at 1.0 cent per dollar. Compare this to other reward programs that feature per dollar redemption at only 0.5 to 0.7 cents for purchases on the site. Plus, card members earn 3 points per $1 spent on Amazon and 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries and drug stores. The good news isn't over, either. In addition to no annual fee, there is no cap on the points you can earn and points never expire. You can also get $50 cash back with 5,000 points. Ka-ching!

For the holidays, PenFed has sweetened the pot on their American Express card. Previously in 2010, they offered 5 points for every dollar spent on airfare, 3 points on hotel and dining, and 1 point on everything else. Your holiday bonus? You still get 5 points on airfare and 3 points on hotel and dining in 2010, but now you get 2 points on everything else.

And if you're traveling during the holidays, you get access to over 600 luxury VIP global airport lounges. That's a nice perk to have if you find yourself and your family snowbound in an airport.

If you need help paying for all those Christmas gifts, this card can be a boost to your bank account. You get 5 percent cash back in rotating categories. Check this out: The current category is department, clothing and electronic stores. This offer continues through 12/31/10. Great timing for the holidays! Take note, though, that you have to enroll in these programs each quarter. You snooze, you lose.

And here's a bonus for new accounts: You get 2 percent cash back on purchases for the first six months. After six months, you get 1 percent.

This card has some good deals for the holidays. Discover card members can earn a "Double Cashback Bonus" of 2 percent on purchases from November 15th through December 31, 2010 on all online purchases for the first $1,000 in purchases and 1 percent thereafter.

Discover also has a 5 percent Cashback Bonus in rotating categories throughout the year. Guess what category is in force between now and December 31, 2010? You get 5 percent cash back on purchases at restaurants, department stores and clothing stores. This offer is only available up to $300 in purchases, but it's a pretty good way to cut some holiday expenses. There are also extra savings -- 5 to 20 percent cash back bonus -- to be had on their online shopping portal, ShopDiscover. Additionally, Discover lets cardmembers increase the value of their rewards when they redeem for partner gift cards, which is a great value when you're buying gift cards as presents.