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Maximize your seasonal spending with these 3 credit cards

Dec. 10, 2021
6 min read
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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.

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Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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.

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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.

Related: Best credit cards with customizable rewards

Chase Freedom Flex

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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 2021 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 Chase Ultimate Rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to convert your cash-back earnings into points. Those points can then be redeemed through the Chase travel portal or transferred to a Chase travel partner for even more value.

Related: 5 ways to maximize the Chase Freedom Flex promotion to earn up to 19,500 bonus points this holiday season

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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. The other cards on this list are restricted to certain categories, but you'll earn 2x 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.

Related: 7 reasons to get the Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Don't forget to use shopping portals

Young woman shopping online in cafe with laptop. (Photo by filadendron/Getty Images)
Use shopping portals for your online decor purchases to maximize your rewards-earning. (Photo by filadendron/Getty Images)

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

Bottom line

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(s). 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 2022 travel fund with the rewards from your holiday shopping.

Official application link: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex.
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more