March 5, 2024

As you lay out your gift budget, you should think about how to make the most of your transactions by stacking promotions from different credit cards. The right credit card can maximize your budget and net you extras like purchase protection. Some of the best credit cards for big gifts have no annual fees, and many feature solid 0% introductory APR periods, competitive welcome bonuses and cash-back rewards programs.



CNET’S PICK

Best for online shopping

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Intro Offer


$200



$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening


Rewards Rate


1%
– 3%



3% cash back in the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases; 1% cash back on all other purchases


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


670 – 850

Good – Excellent

APR


18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

A lot of good potential gifts are online, where it’s harder to net competitive rewards rates unless you’re using a specific store credit card. But the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card* will earn you the most cash back across online shopping in general. “Online shopping” is one of the categories you can choose for the card’s top cash-back rewards rate. Note that you need to proactively select this rewards category on Bank of America’s app or website — or, you can choose from gas, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings.

For more information, see our full review of the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Regular APR
18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of the amount of each transaction

3%

3% cash back in the category of your choice

2%

2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases

1%

1% cash back on all other purchases



A lot of good potential gifts are online, where it’s harder to net competitive rewards rates unless you’re using a specific store credit card. But the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card* will earn you the most cash back across online shopping in general. “Online shopping” is one of the categories you can choose for the card’s top cash-back rewards rate. Note that you need to proactively select this rewards category on Bank of America’s app or website — or, you can choose from gas, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings.

For more information, see our full review of the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Regular APR
18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of the amount of each transaction

3%

3% cash back in the category of your choice

2%

2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases

1%

1% cash back on all other purchases

Best for a long payback period

BankAmericard® credit card


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


BankAmericard® credit card

Rewards Rate


N/A



This card doesn’t offer cash back, miles, or points


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


670 – 850

Good – Excellent

APR


16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

If you’ve got your eye on the perfect gift for someone but it’s a bit expensive, the BankAmericard® credit card* can help you finance it over time without interest. You’ll have 18 billing cycles to pay it off at 0% introductory interest (then 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR). You’ll have the same amount of time to pay down a transferred balance, too. Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening.

Just keep in mind that there are no rewards. However, if you’re going to maintain a balance, avoiding interest is much more rewarding than rewards themselves. 18 billing cycles, which is pretty much 18 months, is a solid amount of time to pay down a planned purchase. Outside of its introductory APR offer, there’s not much else to the card, so it should only be considered if you need to avoid interest on a new purchase or a transferred balance.

For more details, see our BankAmericard credit card review.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Regular APR
16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of the amount of each transaction



If you’ve got your eye on the perfect gift for someone but it’s a bit expensive, the BankAmericard® credit card* can help you finance it over time without interest. You’ll have 18 billing cycles to pay it off at 0% introductory interest (then 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR). You’ll have the same amount of time to pay down a transferred balance, too. Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening.

Just keep in mind that there are no rewards. However, if you’re going to maintain a balance, avoiding interest is much more rewarding than rewards themselves. 18 billing cycles, which is pretty much 18 months, is a solid amount of time to pay down a planned purchase. Outside of its introductory APR offer, there’s not much else to the card, so it should only be considered if you need to avoid interest on a new purchase or a transferred balance.

For more details, see our BankAmericard credit card review.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Regular APR
16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of the amount of each transaction


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Intro Offer


Earn a $200 bonus



Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.


Rewards Rate


1.5%
– 5%



Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; 1.5% on all other purchases


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


670 – 850

Good – Excellent

APR


20.49% – 29.24% Variable

The Chase Freedom Unlimited* credit card offers purchase protection against damage or theft of items within 120 days of purchase — issuing refunds for up to $500 per claim at a cap of $50,000 per account. It’s like insurance on your purchases. This card also offers some of the best amenities of the other cards: a welcome offer worth $200 (after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening) and 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (20.49% to 29.24% variable APR thereafter).

And with no annual fee, you can maintain these purchase-protection benefits and rewards year after year. In doing so, cardholders can reap the benefits of the generous rewards rates for general categories (like dining and drugstores) offered by this card.

Check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

5%

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

3%

3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service

1.5%

1.5% on all other purchases



The Chase Freedom Unlimited* credit card offers purchase protection against damage or theft of items within 120 days of purchase — issuing refunds for up to $500 per claim at a cap of $50,000 per account. It’s like insurance on your purchases. This card also offers some of the best amenities of the other cards: a welcome offer worth $200 (after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening) and 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (20.49% to 29.24% variable APR thereafter).

And with no annual fee, you can maintain these purchase-protection benefits and rewards year after year. In doing so, cardholders can reap the benefits of the generous rewards rates for general categories (like dining and drugstores) offered by this card.

Check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

5%

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more

3%

3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service

1.5%

1.5% on all other purchases

Best for fair credit

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Petal® 2

Rewards Rate


1%
– 1.5%



Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.; 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


No Credit History


APR


18.24% – 32.24% (Variable)

With the Petal 2 Visa credit card, issued by WebBank, you can breathe while shopping even if you have just fair or limited credit. This card comes with a credit limit between $300 and $10,000, based on creditworthiness. Unlike many credit cards for those with limited credit, it doesn’t have to be secured with cash upfront, and it does offer cash-back rewards. In fact, you can earn up to 1.5% cash back across the board on eligible purchases (1% when you make a purchase, and up to 1.5% when you make 12 on-time monthly payments), and a massive 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants.

With no annual fee, you can keep this card open and continue using it beyond major gift purchases to help build your credit. This card even offers features to help you control your finances better, such as being able to set a budget and freeze your account.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% – 32.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

1.5%

Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.

1%

1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.



With the Petal 2 Visa credit card, issued by WebBank, you can breathe while shopping even if you have just fair or limited credit. This card comes with a credit limit between $300 and $10,000, based on creditworthiness. Unlike many credit cards for those with limited credit, it doesn’t have to be secured with cash upfront, and it does offer cash-back rewards. In fact, you can earn up to 1.5% cash back across the board on eligible purchases (1% when you make a purchase, and up to 1.5% when you make 12 on-time monthly payments), and a massive 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants.

With no annual fee, you can keep this card open and continue using it beyond major gift purchases to help build your credit. This card even offers features to help you control your finances better, such as being able to set a budget and freeze your account.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% – 32.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

1.5%

Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.

1%

1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

Should you use a credit card for big gifts?

When used responsibly, using a credit card for your gift shopping can earn you a lot of rewards and provide extra security. Credit cards let you earn rewards for your purchases, and a 0% introductory APR offer can help avoid interest charges — so long as you pay off the balance by the end of the promotional period. Credit card welcome bonuses could provide additional value if you’re able to qualify.

Rewards credit cards may even include additional perks that make shopping more secure by utilizing virtual card numbers to decrease the likelihood of online fraud and by providing purchase protection or an extended warranty.

However, it’s important to proactively plan out your spending on your credit card. Having access to a large credit line and a strong rewards rate can make it tempting to spend money you don’t have, and credit card debt can add up quickly. It’s all too easy to get bogged down by high interest charges and large monthly fees. Missing monthly payments could result in punitive late fees, higher interest rates and a lower credit score.

How to choose the best credit card for big gifts

If you’re looking for a credit card for large gifts, you’ll want to think about which card features would best support how you plan to use it. 

A 0% introductory APR could help you avoid interest charges on a large credit card balance. Extra security features could go a long way toward keeping you more secure while shopping online, and a strong rewards rate would provide a nice return on your gift spending.

Consider this:

What are you planning to purchase?

If you’re looking to finance a big-ticket item, you’ll want to use a credit card with a low or 0% introductory APR period.  Your purchases won’t accrue any interest during the promotional period, giving you more time to pay off the balance.  That noted, if you don’t pay off the purchase before the end of that period, you will begin to rack up interest charges, which can be significant.

Rewards

Credit cards primarily earn rewards as points, miles or cash back. The most straightforward type of credit card reward is cash back, which you can typically redeem as a statement credit, a direct deposit into your bank account or with specific merchants at checkout. A 1% cash back rate will usually net you one cent back per dollar spent, whichever way you redeem it.

Reward points are often difficult to understand but also potentially more valuable. How you redeem — options may include merchandise, gift cards or travel — is likely to affect the value of your rewards.

For example, using your points for purchases with retailers like Amazon may yield lower values than if you were to transfer them to the card issuer’s travel partners.

Annual fees

An annual fee will cut into any rewards you may earn, so it’s important to consider whether your spending will yield enough rewards to cover the cost of the card, and then some. You could find additional value from the card’s perks. If you’re able to utilize things like annual credits, it could cover the cost of the card’s annual fee.

Welcome bonus

Gift buying presents a good opportunity to reach the spending threshold that unlocks some cards’ welcome bonus. Welcome bonuses can essentially mitigate a card’s annual fee and provide some extra cash to put toward gifts.

Other factors

Purchase protection, extended warranty and virtual card numbers are all good things to look for when choosing a card for your big gift spending. 

Purchase protection covers your new purchases against damage and theft, usually for either 90 or 120 days. Extended warranty will increase the length of a manufacturer’s warranty typically by up to an additional year. Virtual card numbers are a unique 16-digit code generated for you to use in place of the one printed on your physical card. It’s meant to limit the chances of fraud.

Some credit cards will also provide discounts through shopping portals with certain merchants, or include things like a ShopRunner membership which offers two-day shipping from specific merchants.

Take advantage of any discounts your card may offer. Some credit card issuers, like American Express, have a shopping portal for cardholders where they can access discounts with specific merchants.

When it’s time to checkout, be sure you’re using a credit card that earns rewards for the purchases you’re making. Once you’ve earned rewards, make sure to redeem them in the way that provides the greatest return on your spending. With rewards cards, that typically means redeeming for statement credits or depositing the rewards directly into your bank account.

Or, depending on your card, you could go the extra mile and leverage different airline and hotel transfer partners of your credit card. It takes a bit more work, but you can often find a greater per-point value by using your rewards to fund travel.

If you’re planning to purchase an expensive item, consider financing it with an introductory APR offer. Consolidating your big gift spending on one card would also maximize and streamline your earning potential. A big-ticket purchase could also go a long way toward earning a credit card’s welcome bonus.

Using a credit card responsibly for your gift shopping could cut back on some of the expense.

Big gift budgeting tips

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Stick to your spending limits. Create a budget and do your best to not deviate from it.
  • Take advantage of any deals or discounts your credit card issuer features.
  • Plan ahead. If you’re able to save money ahead of time, you’ll feel less of a financial strain. And if you have enough money saved to cover the card’s welcome bonus spending requirement, you could earn even more without having to worry about overspending.

FAQs

Taking advantage of credit card introductory offers, bonus points and rewards programs are among the best ways to earn while you spend. You’ll get the most for your money when you use a card with no annual fee and pay off your balance each month.

An introductory APR allows cardholders to avoid interest charges on purchases or balance transfers for a set amount of time, usually 12 to 21 months. This can help you finance a large purchase without incurring extra costs — as long as you make your credit card minimum payments on time and pay the balance off by the time the promotion ends.

In general, no. Even if you’re opening a credit card for a specific purpose, keeping the account open can help add resiliency to your credit report. The number of open accounts and age of open accounts both factor into your credit score.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and the BankAmericard credit card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.