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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Ink Plus Business Card
As we move headlong into the holiday season, I’m sure that many of you are thinking about the array of gifts you need to purchase for friends, family members, bosses and others in your lives. Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen shares some of the best cards to use for all that shopping.
Two of the most popular days for shopping during the year are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but in addition to taking advantage of various limited-time deals on these dates, you want to make sure that you’re maximizing your points and mileage earnings on these purchases — while also doing your best to cover yourself in the case of price drops, theft or damage. Today I’ll go through my list of the best credit cards to use for Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases.
1. Chase Freedom
My first pick is specific to Cyber Monday purchases and earns the top spot because of a single retailer: Amazon.com. For the last couple of years, the Chase Freedom has included Amazon as one of its bonus merchants in the fourth quarter, meaning that you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at Amazon, along with Zappos.com, Audible and Diapers.com this year. Recently, Chase sweetened the deal even more, announcing a “reset” to this bonus category as of November 23rd.
However, this gets even better. Experienced points and miles hobbyists know that the Chase Freedom is not simply a cash-back card. When it’s paired with a premium Chase card that earns full Ultimate Rewards points (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card), the cash-back points can be converted to much more valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to partners like United and Hyatt. When you combine the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus Business Card, you have a formidable points-earning machine.
The card is currently offering an increased sign-up bonus of $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening, so if this card isn’t currently in your wallet, now’s a great time to apply!
2. Just about any Citi-issued card
Another great option for these purchases doesn’t apply to a single card but rather the vast majority of cards issued by Citi. This is due to the issuer’s Price Rewind benefit. If you purchase an item with just about any personal card from Citi (including the Citi ThankYou Premier Card and the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card) and register that purchase on the Price Rewind website, the program will track prices online with over 500 retailers and will refund you the difference if a lower price is found within 60 days. You can also submit a claim manually if you find a lower price on your own.
Unfortunately, the prices you’ll pay on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday will likely be rock-bottom as it is, but if the price on your purchased item does drop as the holiday approaches, you can get a refund of up to $300 (subject to an annual maximum of $1,200). The program has awarded $2 million worth of refunds through August of this year, though keep in mind that there are some exclusions, including (but not limited to):
- Consumable items
While it may not be the most rewarding card for most Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases (unless you’re buying airfare), the biggest pro to using the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card is its purchase protection. There are many cards that carry this benefit, but the Premier Rewards Gold Card just upped the ante by raising its coverage tenfold — from $1,000 to $10,000 per occurrence. If you purchase an eligible item that is damaged, lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase, you can file a claim by visiting www.AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim or by calling 1-800-297-8019.
Of course, this isn’t the only American Express card to offer this coverage; you’ll get identical protection on The Platinum Card from American Express, and others (like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express) still offer the lower $1,000 worth of protection. However, the Premier Rewards Gold is significantly less costly than the Platinum Card and offers an array of other perks, many of which were just added earlier this year.
The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. However, be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you have a targeted offer of 50,000 points or more.
The final card on my list earns a spot for its simplicity; the Citi Double Cash Card offers a flat 1% back on every purchase plus another 1% back when you pay your bill. While that return on everyday purchases doesn’t compare to the potential returns highlighted above, this is automatic and results in cold, hard cash in your pocket. With seemingly constant devaluations in the world of loyalty programs (American Airlines being the most recent culprit) and the complexity of booking award tickets, many shoppers may simply want some money back on purchases. The card also doesn’t impose an annual fee, though it also doesn’t come with any type of a sign-up bonus (unlike many other top travel rewards credit cards out there).
Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent enormous shopping days here in the US, but some surveys show that less than a quarter of Black Friday shoppers will be swiping a credit card for their sought-after purchases. Don’t miss out! Even if you don’t want to brave the stores or the midnight-to-5am shopping rush, there are still many ways to make the most of your purchases this holiday season, and I hope this has given you some guidance into which credit cards offer the best bang for your buck.
What credit card(s) will you be using this Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday?
It's a stellar Cash Back card on its own, but when paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom's 5x Category Bonuses let you rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, transferrable to partners or redeemable via the portal.