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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. Discover it® Cash Back
My first pick is a great option if you’re looking to earn cash back this holiday season and applies to both of these shopping days. With the Discover it Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in accordance with Discover’s 2018 Cashback Calendar after enrollment. Q4 2018 is perfect for the holidays: Amazon and wholesale clubs. Having just visited my local Sam’s Club this week, I can tell you that these stores are chock-full of great gifts for kids and adults (if you’re willing to brave the Black Friday crowds). If not, swipe this card at Amazon on Cyber Monday to pick up everything you need from the comfort of your home.
However, this particular card is even more lucrative if you’ve only just signed up for the Discover it card in the last 12 months. As part of the current welcome offer, Discover will match all your cash back earned in the first 12 months you have the card. That means you’re actually earning up to 10% in cash back on all your Amazon and wholesale club purchases from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018. 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 Premier Card and the Citi Prestige 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.
The prices you’ll pay on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday will likely be rock-bottom already, but if the price on your purchased item does drop as the holiday approaches, you can get a refund of the price differential. Now bear in mind that the maximum refund per item was recently dropped from $500 to $200 as part of changes that took effect in July, though Citi did delay to changes to the annual maximum. You have through the end of the year to receive total refunds across the year of up to $2,500; this will drop to $1,000 in 2019.
The program has historically awarded millions of dollars worth of refunds each year, though keep in mind that there are some exclusions, including (but not limited to):
- Consumable items
Citi’s Price Rewind benefit is available on most of the issuer’s personal cards and can offer some additional savings if prices drop further within 60 days of your purchase.
While this may not be the most rewarding card for most Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases, the biggest pro to using the Amex Gold Card is its purchase protection. There are many cards that carry this benefit, but in 2015 the Gold card 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 Amex Gold card is significantly less costly than the Platinum Card and offers an array of other perks.
The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership, though you can likely grab a 50,000-point bonus via a referral link from a friend or family member. (Referral offer subject to change at any time).
The next 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 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).
5. Any American Express Card
The final option for these purchases isn’t a specific card but instead leverages a fantastic program for maximizing your earnings: Amex Offers. If you aren’t familiar, any American Express-issued card is eligible, and the program offers discounts or bonus points on purchases at select merchants. The offers are targeted but can be quite lucrative, and many are applicable to both in-store (Black Friday) and online (Cyber Monday) purchases.
To see what offers are available to you, log in to your Amex account and scroll down to the Amex Offers & Benefits section. You’ll see a half-dozen options initially, but then click View All to expand the entire list. When you find an offer you want, click “Add to Card” to activate it.
Remember to check all of your American Express cards, from the Platinum Card® from American Express to the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card from American Express, as you’ll often find deals specific to each one.
Don’t Forget to Use Shopping Portals
A final reminder for all of the Cyber Monday shoppers out there: Don’t forget to use an online shopping portal for these purchases! By starting at sites like Ebates or the AAdvantage eShopping site, you’ll earn bonus points, miles or cash-back for gifts you buy from participating retailers. Many of these even offer regular bonuses for reaching certain thresholds of spending. I typically start at a shopping portal aggregator 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, and since Amex Offers are generally issued by American Express directly (rather than via a promo code), you should also be able to stack those discounts or bonuses.
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.
Featured image by Heidi Sandstrom via Unsplash.
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The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at Marriott and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,200 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
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- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees