Which card to use at which store: Holiday shopping guide

The Blue Cash Preferred offer is not longer available on CreditCardForum

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In our story about holiday shopping tips for rewards-seekers, we suggested plotting out which retailers you plan to shop at and seeing which of your cards offer the highest cash back, or the best card-linked deals. Since you probably don’t have time for that, we decided to do some of the work for you.

We selected some of the most popular retailers for holiday shopping and found the cards that offer the highest return on spending for each (between now and Dec. 31, 2016).

Terms apply to all these offers, many are limited-time-only promotions and some have max-enrollment caps. Also, just because you don’t see your card below doesn’t mean that card doesn’t have an offer – many card-linked offers are targeted. So always check your available offers before you shop.

Don’t see your favorite retailer below? Tell us in the comments, and we’ll look into it!

Amazon.com

Amazon logo
10 percent for first six months with American Express Blue Cash cards if you are a new cardmember who is approved by Jan. 11, 2017 (limited-time welcome bonus — terms apply)

5 percent cash back category for Discover it

3 percent back with Amazon Rewards credit card

TARGETED: $25 off on order of $50 or more, when you use an American Express Membership Rewards-eligible card to shop with points on Amazon. Dr. of Credit has details, but this offer is targeted and may not be available to you.

TARGETED: 3X Membership Rewards points with an eligible American Express card (until Dec. 31) via Amex Offers.

Apple Store

Apple logo5 percent cash-back bonus with Discover Deals (online only)

5 percent cash back with U.S. Bank Cash+ card (via Electronic Stores category)

2 points/dollar with Barclaycard RewardsBoost (online only)

Barnes & Noble

barnes and noble logo2 points/$1 with Barclaycard RewardsBoost (online only)

5 percent discount OR 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar with a card linked to the OPEN Savings program from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner)

5 percent back with U.S. Bank Cash+ card (via Bookstores category)

Bed Bath & Beyond

bed bath beyond logo5 percent cashback bonus with Discover Deals (online only)

5 percent cash back with Bed Bath & Beyond MasterCard

2 points/$1 with Barclaycard RewardsBoost (online only)

Best Buy

best buy logo5 percent cash back via U.S. Bank Cash+ (Electronic Stores category)

5 percent back with My Best Buy Credit Card

2X MR points with Amex Offers until end of 2016

Costco

Costco logo5 percent cash back category for Chase Freedom (Q4)

2 percent cash back via Costco Anywhere Visa

2 percent cash back via BankAmericard Cash Rewards (grocery/wholesale category)

Kohl’s

kohls logo5 percent cash back category for Discover it (Q4)

5 percent cash back category for Chase Freedom (Q4)

5 percent cash-back bonus with Discover Deals (online only)

5 percent cash back with U.S. Bank Cash+ card (via Department Stores category)

3 percent cash back with American Express Blue Cash Preferred

2 points/$1 with Barclaycard RewardsBoost (online only)

Macy’s

Macy's logo5 percent cash back category for Discover it (Q4)

5 percent cash back category for Chase Freedom (Q4)

5 percent cash-back bonus via Discover Deals (online only)

5 percent cash back with U.S. Bank Cash+ card (via Department Stores category)

3 percent cash back via American Express Blue Cash Preferred

3 points/$1 with Barclaycard RewardsBoost (online only)

Sam’s Club

Sams club5 percent cash back category for Discover it (Q4)

5 percent cash back category for Chase Freedom (Q4)

2 percent cash back with Sam’s Club MasterCard (limited-time offer for new cardholders 90 days from account opening. Offer expires Nov. 12, 2016).

2 percent cash back via BankAmericard Cash Rewards (grocery/wholesale category)

Target

Target logo5 percent off with Target REDcard

2X MR points with Amex offers until end of 2016

Note: There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that Targets selling groceries may be coded as grocery stores, rather than discount stories. This could make your spending eligible for bonus points on cards that offer “grocery stores” as a bonus category. Nothing is guaranteed, however.

Toys R Us

toys r us logo10 percent off in-store on Thursdays with “R” Us Credit Card

2 points/dollar with “R” Us Credit Card

Walmart

wal mart logo5 percent cash-back bonus via Discover Deals (online only)

3 percent back with Wal-Mart credit card (online only)

2 miles/$1 with BarclayCard Rewards Boost

Note: There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that Wal-marts selling groceries may be coded as grocery stores, rather than discount stories. This could make your spending eligible for bonus points on cards that offer “grocery stores” as a bonus category. Nothing is guaranteed, however.

An easier way to maximize rewards over the holidays

Don’t want to think about which card to use for which retailer at all? Several apps and browser extensions will tell you exactly which card to pull out of your wallet before you make a purchase. We recommend the following:

Wallaby: Recommends which card to use, and which cards to get, based on your purchases.

Wallet: This app from CreditCards.com helps you pick the right card for your purchase, suggests cards to add to your wallet and generates handy charts for tracking your spending. Just launched some updates and improvements in Oct. 2016.

Kard: Specializes in alerting you to card-linked offers/deals while you shop online, so you never miss one.

 
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