6 of our favorite cards to use for Black Friday shopping in 2021
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new information and card details. This page also includes information about the Discover it Cash Back that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.
It’s that time of year again.
When I was much younger, Black Friday shopping was somewhat of a tradition in my family. I’d get up early with my mom and aunt, and “just the girls” would go to Target, Walmart, Dillard’s, Sears and every other store that was open at the crack of dawn.
As I’ve gotten older, “Black Friday” has expanded beyond just Friday and beyond in-person shopping to online deals, too. In today’s digital era, a large portion of Black Friday shopping can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Wherever you shop, though, there are plenty of ways to maximize your purchases by using the right credit cards. Here’s a rundown of a few of the best cards to use for your Black Friday shopping this year.
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Chase Freedom Flex
Annual fee: $0.
- 5% back on up to $1,500 in quarterly rotating categories when you enroll (the fourth-quarter categories for 2021 are Walmart and PayPal).
- 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- 5% back on Lyft through March 2022.
- 3% back on drugstores.
- 3% back on dining.
- 1% back on other purchases.
When to use this card: The Chase Freedom Flex is a great all-around earner, particularly now. It is currently offering 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases at Walmart and with PayPal during the fourth quarter of 2021, making it perfect for any Black Friday shopping done at Walmart or online where PayPal is accepted. Walmart frequently has excellent Black Friday deals (both online and in-store), and PayPal is accepted at millions of retailers. Right now, new cardholders will also get $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
Plus, if you also have another Chase card with an annual fee that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the rewards earned with the Freedom Flex can be converted into full-fledged, transferable Ultimate Rewards points by combining your points.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $95.
Rewards rate: 2x miles on purchases.
When to use this card: The Venture earns at least 2x miles on every single purchase, no matter when or where, so it’s great to use on purchases that won’t earn you bonuses in specific categories on your other rewards credit cards. It also means you’ll be earning solid rewards both in-store and online. Better yet, TPG values Capital One miles at 1.85 cents each, so you’re really getting a 3.7% return on all expenses (valuation not provided by the issuer).
Capital One miles can be redeemed as a statement credit for eligible purchases or transferred to one of the issuer’s many airline and hotel transfer partners, most of which now convert at a 1:1 ratio.
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Annual fee: $0.
- 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.
- 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.
- 1% back on everything else.
- 10% back on select products from eligible gift guides, which can be found here, now through Dec. 20.
When to use this card: The Amazon Prime Rewards credit card is only open to those that have an Amazon Prime membership, so while the card has no annual fee, you do have to foot the $119 bill for an annual Prime account. But for those that find Prime worthwhile, the card excels with 5% back on a wide variety of items and groceries at Amazon and Whole Foods.
Even better, until the end of November, eligible Amazon Prime members who apply for the Amazon Prime Visa Signature card will receive a $200 Amazon gift card immediately upon approval. Prime cardholders can also earn a fantastic 10% back on select products from eligible gift guides, which can be found here, now through Dec. 20.
The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Annual fee: $0.
Rewards rate: 5% cash back on the first $500 of purchases each billing cycle in your top spending category from the following list (then 1%):
- Gas stations.
- Grocery stores.
- Select travel.
- Select transit.
- Select streaming services.
- Home improvement stores.
- Fitness clubs.
- Live entertainment.
When to use this card: This is a card that caters to your lifestyle, whether you’re traveling the globe one month or grocery shopping at home the next. If you max out the $500 spending limit each billing cycle, you’ll earn $25 in cash-back rewards per month — for a potential maximum of $300 in rewards annually. That versatility is key, since even if your Black Friday purchases aren’t in your normal high-spending categories, you can still earn 5% back on them if they make up the bulk of your bill this month, provided they’re in those eligible categories.
Plus, if you’re adding the Citi Custom Cash on top of your Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card, you can unlock the option to convert your points into fully transferable miles with Citi’s hotel and airline transfer partners to extract even greater value from them.
The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Official application link: Citi Custom Cash Card
Discover it Cash Back
Annual fee: $0.
Rewards rate: Enroll every quarter to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent on purchases in quarterly rotating categories. The fourth-quarter categories for 2021 are Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com.
When to use this card: If you’re planning on shopping online at Target, Walmart or Amazon, the Discover it Cash Back could be a great option for earning cash back this Black Friday. All of these retailers are famous for their holiday shopping deals, making them prime locations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers.
Better yet, Discover will match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. So if you’re a new cardholder this holiday season, you’re effectively earning 10% back on bonus category purchases and 2% on non-bonus spending.
Annual fee: $0.
Rewards rate: This card normally earns 3 points per dollar on dining, two per dollar on travel and one per dollar on other eligible purchases. However on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm Eastern Time, you can earn 5 points per dollar on all purchases, up to a total of 50,000 bonus points maximum. Certain transactions such as cash advances, tax payments and gambling purchases are excluded.
When to use this card: If you’re not taking advantage of a 5x earning rate with another card, then this is the one to use on Black Friday, specifically, thanks to its one-day 5x bonus rate. Just note that rent payments (which this card enables you to do fee-free) will still earn 1 point per dollar while those standing bonus categories will just be upped to 5 points per dollar, not an additional 5 points per dollar. Still, if you have a lot of holiday shopping to do, or even some future payments you can make on things like utilities and other expenses, earning 5 Bilt Rewards points per dollar can be a phenomenal strategy since points transfer to a variety of partners including American Airlines AAdvantage and World of Hyatt.
Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor. The information for the Bilt card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Tips to further maximize purchases
Utilize offers from your credit card
If you have an American Express or Chase card, leverage their fantastic programs for maximizing your earnings: Amex Offers and Chase Offers. The offers are targeted but can be quite lucrative, and many are applicable to both in-store (Black Friday) and online (Cyber Monday) purchases.
These programs can make a card that doesn’t typically offer bonus rewards at certain stores worth using while you shop non-travel Black Friday deals.
Don’t forget to use shopping portals
When shopping online for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, make sure you’re going through a shopping portal in addition to using a great credit card so that you’re double-dipping (or potentially even triple-dipping) on rewards.
All you have to do is go through their link to shop on the sites you love. I typically start at a shopping portal aggregator such as CashbackMonitor.com to compare earning rates across these sites and then select the one that works best for me.
Note that these bonuses will be in addition to the standard earning rates on the cards above; you should also be able to stack those discounts or bonuses.
Using Black Friday to hit sign-up bonus spending requirements
If you just applied for a new card with a sign-up bonus spending requirement, holiday shopping is also a good opportunity to help you hit those spending thresholds. While I definitely don’t suggest overspending just to hit a welcome bonus, if your holiday shopping can help you along the way, responsibly, you might as well leverage it to do so.
For instance, let’s say you applied for the recently launched Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. The Venture X earns 2x on almost all spending categories (notably, the Venture X also earns bonuses on the Capital One Travel portal). Currently, the Venture X card’s sign-up bonus is 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, so use your holiday shopping to help you get there.
Accruing 2x on everyday spending is a solid earnings rate, especially for shopping categories that typically may not receive a bonus of any kind. But if you’re also making a dent on the $4,000 initial spending requirement to earn the 75,000 miles, that’s an even better deal.
Black Friday represents an enormous shopping day here in the U.S., making it an excellent opportunity to rack up rewards going into the holiday season.
Whether you prefer to brave the stores or handle your shopping online while curled up with hot cocoa, or even do both, there are many ways to make the most of your purchases this holiday season.
Additional reporting by Nick Ewen and Chris Dong.
Featured photo by Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images.
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