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From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to Christmas, holiday shopping season is the time of the year when many Americans spend the heaviest, and even infrequent shoppers find themselves heading to department stores, both in person and online, looking for the perfect gift.

Just because you’re spending money doesn’t mean you can’t get something extra in return. Today we’ll take a look at your best options for earning bonus points at department stores this holiday season.

Credit Card Bonus Categories

The Chase Freedom is one of my favorite cards, offering 5% back on your first $1,500 spent each quarter in rotating bonus categories with no annual fee. While it’s technically billed as a cash-back card, if you have a paid Chase card (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card), you can move your points from the Freedom to that card and make them full-fledged transferable Ultimate Rewards points. Based on TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, this doubles your return to 10% back.

Unfortunately this only works if you find yourself spending in the quarterly bonus category, otherwise the card only earn a simple 1% back. This year, Chase’s holiday gift to us was setting the Q4 bonus category as department stores (in addition to wholesale clubs and Chase Pay).

As long as you register your Chase Freedom card at this link by Dec. 14, 2018, you’ll earn 5% (or 5x) back on your first $1,5000 spent at department stores. Chase lists eligible merchants on the Freedom website, including popular stores such as Nordstrom, Macys, Neiman Marcus and many, many more.

Another option to consider is the no-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which earns 2% cash back on purchases made in the US at the following  department stores:

  • Bealls
  • Belk
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Bon Ton Stores
  • Boscov’s
  • Century 21 Department Stores
  • Dillard’s
  • J.C. Penney (JCP)
  • Kohl’s
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Macy’s
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Nordstrom
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sears
  • Stein Mart

Alternatively, you could use some planned spending as a way to meet the minimum spending requirement on a new credit card. There are lots of great offers to consider, including the 50,000 point welcome bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Shopping Portals

No matter what card you use to pay for your purchase, you should try and stack all your online shopping with an airline, hotel or cash-back shopping portal to earn even more. Most major loyalty programs offer some type of shopping portal, and you can use a site like evreward.com or cashbackmonitor.com to compare offers for different portals. For example, here are the current shopping portal bonuses for Saks Fifth Avenue:

Amex Offers/Saks Credit

Speaking of Saks Fifth Avenue, if you haven’t yet used up your Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit from the Platinum Card® from American Express (up to $50 each in the first and last 6 months of the year), make sure to do so before the end of December.

While you’re logged in to the Amex website, you should check if you have any Amex Offers that can help you save money or earn bonus points on holiday shopping. These offers are a great way to save money on purchases you already planned to make, but if you spot a good enough deal you might even get some new gift ideas out of it. These offers are generally targeted and vary by account, but on my Amex Platinum Card I see an offer for a $100 statement credit after spending $500 or more at Bergdorf Goodman…

As well as an offer for 1 extra point for each dollar spent at Saks, which will stack great with the $50 Saks credit.

Bottom Line

Retailers spend an obscene amount of money to get a sliver of your holiday shopping, but there are plenty of opportunities for you to win here as well. By using the right credit card, taking advantage of online shopping portal bonuses and remembering to use Amex Offers and other holiday coupons, you can earn bonus points and save money on purchases you already planned to make.

 

Featured image by Anna Utochkina via Unsplash.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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