Maximize your seasonal spending with these 5 credit cards
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
December is one of my favorite months of the year. I love the cooler temperatures and the holiday season. When I was growing up, Dec. 1 was a mini-holiday at my house because it was the day we put up Christmas decorations. Festivities involved multiple trips to the attic to bring down the boxes of evergreen decorations and a trip to Target for a few new items.
Now that I’m older, I realize that decorating my own apartment for the holidays can be expensive. Throw pillows, blankets, Christmas lights and seasonal trinkets can cost a pretty penny. And don’t get me started on the cost of buying and decorating a Christmas tree.
Luckily, there are credit cards out there to help me earn rewards while I feed my holiday decor obsession. Here are my top picks.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Annual fee: None.
Sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
How to maximize your seasonal spending: With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you’ll earn 3% back on the category of your choice, 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on everything else. There is a $2,500 quarterly cap on combined 3% and 2% spending each quarter; then earn 1%. One of the spending categories is home improvement and furnishings, a category that includes florists, antique stores, hardware shops — the list goes on.
You can earn 3% back when you buy those seasonal throw pillows and blankets, add festive wreaths and flower arrangements from your local florist, grab new lawn ornaments from Lowe’s, or all of the above. You can also boost your earnings if you’re eligible for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, earning as much as 5.25% back on your holiday decor purchases.
Once the season is over and your decorations go back into storage, you can get continued value from your card by changing your category every month to fit your spending habits throughout the rest of the year — making this one of the most flexible cash-back cards on the market.
Official application link: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Related: Best credit cards with customizable rewards
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Annual fee: None.
Sign-up bonus: $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
How to maximize your seasonal spending: The Chase Freedom Flex earns 5% on rotating categories each quarter (with a $1,500 cap on 5% spending each quarter). The fourth-quarter categories for 2022 are Walmart and PayPal purchases, which are some of the easiest quarterly categories to max out since you can buy many seasonal purchases either through Walmart or using PayPal as a payment method.
You can also pair your Chase Freedom Flex with a Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to convert your cash-back earnings into transferable points. Those points can then be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transferred to a Chase travel partner for even more value.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex
Related: 5 ways to maximize the Chase Freedom Flex promotion to earn up to 19,500 bonus points this holiday season
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual fee: None.
Sign-up bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases up to $20,000 spent in the first year.
How to maximize your seasonal spending: The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 3% on dining and drugstore purchases as well as 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The additional 1.5% in the first year allows you to earn an impressive 3% on every odd purchase you find yourself making this season.
Like the Chase Freedom Flex, you can also pair your Chase Freedom Unlimited with Chase Ultimate Rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to convert your cash-back earnings into transferable points. Those points can then be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transferred to a Chase travel partner for outsized value.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Related: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $95.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
How to maximize your seasonal spending: With the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you’ll get unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, including any seasonal decor your heart desires. Some other cards have restricted categories, but you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent with the Venture no matter what you buy or where you shop.
You may not get the best return with the Venture (compared to cards that offer 5% or 3% on specific categories), but you don’t have to worry about activating quarterly or monthly categories. If you buy your seasonal decorations from a number of shops that may not fall under a specific category, the Venture is a good choice.
Your Venture miles can be used as a statement credit to pay off eligible travel purchases, or you can transfer miles to one of Capital One’s 15-plus airline and hotel transfer partners.
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Related: 7 reasons to get the Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual fee: None.
Sign-up bonus: None.
How to maximize your seasonal spending: If you know you'll be spending in a lot of different places and want to make sure you get some good cash back rewards, the Citi® Double Cash Card (see rates and fees) is an excellent choice. With it, you'll earn an unlimited 2% back on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay), so you can feel great about your earning potential no matter what you're buying this season.
Official application link: Citi® Double Cash Card
Related: How to get maximum value from your Citi Double Cash Card
Don’t forget to use shopping portals
When shopping online, you can stack rewards earnings by using shopping portals. Many popular airlines have shopping portals, and there are multiple third-party portals that offer cash back.
Aside from the extra two seconds it takes to click through the link, using a shopping portal doesn’t cost anything. It’s another easy way to maximize your purchases, on top of using the right card.
Related: Earn even more rewards by adding this 1 small step to your online shopping routine
Whether you go all-out with seasonal decor (like my family) or only plan to add a few holiday touches around the house, it’s important to maximize your purchases with the right card or cards. Luckily, there are plenty of credit cards that help you rack up rewards on decor purchases.
But it’s always best to choose a card that provides you value year-round. If you take advantage of the right shopping portal and credit card matchup, you could even get a jump-start on your 2023 travel fund with the rewards from your holiday shopping.
Additional reporting by Emily Thompson, Stella Shon and Benét J. Wilson.