*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Aug 29, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
As temperatures begin to cool and pumpkin spice fills the air, it’s a reminder that the holidays are around the corner. Whether you’re planning to host dinner at your house, travel out of town to visit relatives or get a jump start on holiday shopping, using the right credit card is a great way to earn rewards on those purchases. It’s all about spending strategically (and within your budget) to earn cash back or points.
One word of caution: “Job No. 1 for anyone with a credit card is to make sure you pay off your balance as soon as you possibly can,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst of CompareCards. “And the last thing you should do is overspend just to get credit card rewards, regardless of how lucrative they may be.”
In this article:
- Picking the right card to rack up rewards
- Reward yourself by swiping for these fall necessities
- Let your fall card rewards inspire future fun
Picking the right card to rack up rewards
Travel cards, airline cards, cashback cards — how do you know which one to choose? It’s all about being strategic, says Walter Travers, a travel vlogger who runs The Credit Card Maestro channel on YouTube.
“Make it situational for your lifestyle for this point in time to maximize rewards,” he said. In other words, look for cards that offer the highest rewards for the types of purchases you make the most. Or, if you’re an equal opportunity spender, you can go for a flat-rate rewards card that offers the same rate on all purchases.
The other major consideration is to think ahead on the type of rewards you want. For instance, say you want to plan a big trip next year. “Now is the perfect time to get a card that gives you a big sign-up bonus that you can use next year,” said Travers. With the right card, you could use earnings toward airfare, hotel stays or any number of ways.
As for deciding which type of rewards card to apply for, again, it all depends on your preferences. For airline cards, Travers cautions that you should only get one if you are loyal to a specific airline that has a hub in your area airport with widely available flights. The same concept applies to hotel cards — make sure it’s a chain that you almost always stay at, otherwise you won’t get much value.
Of course, if you want more flexibility, there are also general travel rewards cards that give you more options for transferring your points to a variety of airline or hotel partners.
If you prefer to deal with dollars rather than points, you can’t go wrong with a cashback card. “You want to do better than 1% back if you can, and make sure it gives you more cash back for the things you spend on,” said Travers — so if you spend a lot on groceries, look for cards with extra rewards for supermarket spending.
Once you pick your card, you’re ready to start earning. See which cards we suggest, based on the purchases you plan to make this fall.
Reward yourself by swiping for these fall necessities
1. Groceries – Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.*
NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions & 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
1% back on other purchases*
- Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
- NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- NEW 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Over 3 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017 and 2018.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%
- $95 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you’re planning to host Thanksgiving this year, or if you simply spend a large amount on groceries every month, you should consider a credit card that provides a high rewards rate on supermarket purchases, such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. The card offers: NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions & 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. Plus, earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
If you max out the $6,000 yearly spend cap by spending an average of $500 per month on groceries, you can earn $360 cash back at the end of the year. Once you factor in the card’s welcome bonus, you have the potential to earn $660 simply by topping out the supermarket spend threshold.
2. Shopping – Discover it® Cash Back
Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*
Any amount, any time. Cash back rewards never expire*
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- No annual fee.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back
If you want to get a jump start on gifts for the upcoming holiday season or take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, the Discover it® Cash Back card is a great option. The card offers 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
During the fourth quarter of 2019, Discover offers the higher bonus rate at Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com. This is a great opportunity to earn a high amount of cash back on gifts, sale items and holiday decor from these stores during the months of October, November and December.
3. Road trips – Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
- No annual fee
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
- 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
- No expiration on rewards
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
See additional details for Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer
Whether you’re driving to the beach for one last hurrah in September, planning a road trip to see the changing fall leaves or driving to see your relatives for Thanksgiving, you can benefit from earning credit card rewards on gas purchases.
“When it comes to a road trip, I think about being on the road for an extended period of time and spending money on gas,” said Travers — not to mention, making a pit stop for a bite. He suggests using a card that offers more than 1% back on gas and restaurant purchases.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer is one of the top gas rewards credit cards, due to its generous rewards rate on gas purchases. Cardholders have the ability to select from one of six “choice” categories to earn 3% cash back each month: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. The card offers 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases
If you select gas as your choice category, and max out the $2,500 spend on those purchases, you can earn $75 cash back each quarter on gas.
4. Travel – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 bonus points
2X points on travel and dining
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card offers a very valuable sign-up bonus that can be used toward free travel to visit family or take a vacation over the holidays. Cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The sign-up bonus can be redeemed for $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Additionally, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can transfer points at a rate of 1:1 to 10 airline travel partners and three hotel travel partners.
Finance large purchases – BankAmericard® credit card or Wells Fargo Platinum card
If you’re planning to make large purchases this fall, whether buying airfare for the entire family or sprucing up your home with some new furniture, you may prefer a credit card that offers an extended period of time to pay off your card balance without charging interest.
While there are cards available that offer interest-free APR periods for a year and a half, they do not come with rewards programs or sign-up bonuses.
The BankAmericard® credit card, for example, offers a 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles, then 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. The card comes with a $0 annual fee.
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles
14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
- 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
- No annual fee
- No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply
- Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
See additional details for BankAmericard® credit card
The Wells Fargo Platinum card also offers an intro APR on purchases of 0% for 18 months, then 16.99%-26.49% (variable).
If you do want to earn rewards while financing a purchase, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer is a good option. Along with a 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles (then 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR), the $0-annual-fee card offers 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases.
Plus, earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
The information related to the Wells Fargo Platinum card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Let fall card rewards inspire future fun
Using rewards credit cards on fun fall and holiday experiences you would have paid for anyway is a much more fulfilling way to rack up rewards than simply paying utility bills. And as your rewards balance grows, it could inspire you to start planning future fun for spring and summer travel next year.