4 Best Credit Cards for Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

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Last updated on December 11th, 2023

The holiday season is heating up – meaning the search for last-minute holiday gifts has returned. Before you charge head-on into a sea of humanity at the mall or local box store, check out our best credit card options for last-minute gifts and holiday expenses.

At a Glance

The Best Credit Cards for Last-Minute Gifts and Expenses

Make sure you’re covered during your 11th hour shopping – and also get rewarded – with the following top card picks:

Simon® American Express® Credit Card

Simon® American Express® Credit Card
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
American Express Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Simon® American Express® Credit Card

  • 21.24% to 31.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR

At a Glance

The Simon® American Express® Credit Card is a unique retail credit card that lets you maximize your rewards at the mall and anywhere else Amex is accepted. The card, from digital-first fintech Cardless, earns up to 5% cash back on all Simon Mall purchases – all for no annual fee.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 5% at any Simon Mall, Mills, or Premium Outlet in the U.S.
  • Earn 1% on all your other card purchases
  • Regular Purchase APR: 21.24% to 31.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • You love to shop – either in-person or online – for a wide variety of products
  • You’re brand-loyal to the type of stores you find in the mall
  • You prefer card rewards in the form of statement credits
  • You do’t want to pay an annual fee
Simon® American Express® Credit Card

Simon® American Express® Credit Card

Terms & Conditions

When holiday shopping comes down to the wire, many Americans head to the mall searching for those elusive gifts. If that sounds like you, the Simon® American Express® Credit Card from Cardless is a great ally to have. This retail rewards credit card provides exceptional savings at the mall – all Simon Malls, to be specific.

Cardholders earn 5% back on the first $10,000 in spending per calendar year at any Simon Mall, Mills, or Premium Outlets in the U.S. That doesn’t just mean a few stores – any store at a Simon Mall will earn you 5% back, including major names like:

Aeropostale Brooks Brothers Eddie Bauer Forever 21
Reebok JCPenney Nautica Lucky Brand

All other purchases with the card earn 1% cash back, with rewards redeemable as statement credits, saving you money when it comes time to pay that post-holidays credit card bill. Other noteworthy features include no annual fee or foreign transaction fees and Amex protections and benefits, including:

Extended Warranty Return Protection Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance Amex Concierge
Purchase Protection Zero Fraud Liability Trip Delay Insurance Amex Offers

Another option to consider is the U.S. Bank Shopper Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card. This card earns up to 6% cash back at 24 different brands, including Amazon, Best Buy, Chewy, Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and more.

Prime Visa

Prime Visa
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
Visa Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Prime Visa

  • 19.49% to 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 19.49% to 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR

At a Glance

The Prime Visa offers cardholders impressive rewards on all Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases, as well as elevated cash back at gas stations, drug stores, restaurants, transit, commuting, and more.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • Instant Amazon.com gift card on approval
  • Earn 5% Back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership, plus 5% Back on purchases made through Chase Travel.
  • Earn 2% Back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, plus 2% Back on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 1% Back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Regular Purchase APR: 19.49% to 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer APR: 19.49% to 27.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Minimum Deposit Required: N/A
  • You frequently shop at Amazon or Whole Foods
  • You have an existing Amazon Prime membership
  • You want a card with no foreign transaction fees and Visa concierge services for your travel plans
  • You want a flexible rewards program, including savings at gas stations dining
  • You want the excellent customer service Amazon is known for

Amazon.com is a go-to shop for almost everyone doing work just before December 25th. The site is so popular not just for its huge (and I mean huge) selection of products, services, and even groceries, but also its expedited, often free shipping.

The Prime Visa, issued by Chase, is an excellent cash back retail card for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases. The card, which requires an Amazon Prime account (otherwise, you’ll get the Amazon Visa), earns up to 5% back on eligible purchases and includes an Amazon gift card on card approval. That exceptional combination of rewards and credits is ideal for holiday shopping but even better for last-minute shoppers, as the gift card and a virtual credit card number are both available immediately after approval.

As mentioned, the Prime Visa is just one version of the Amazon credit card lineup from Chase. There’s also the Amazon Visa, which doesn’t require an active Prime subscription but offers slightly lower rewards on purchases. Here is how the two cards compare:

Prime Visa Amazon Visa
Amazon Prime membership required? Yes No
Rewards Earn 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases Earn 3% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases
Earn 5% back on purchases made through Chase Travel Earn 3% back on purchases made through Chase Travel
Earn 3% back on purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores Earn 2% back on purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores
Earn 2% back on local transit and commuting, including rideshares Earn 2% back on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
Earn 1% back on all other purchases Earn 1% back on all other purchases
Annual fee No annual fee No annual fee

Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Freedom Flex
Excellent-Good
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good
Mastercard Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Chase Freedom Flex

  • 20.49% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 20.49% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR
  • 0% for 15 months from account opening date Intro Purchase APR

At a Glance

The Chase Freedom Flex is a hybrid cash back credit card that offers something for everyone. The card earns 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, plus up to 5% back on rotating categories each quarter after activation – all for no annual fee.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 3% on drugstore purchases
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.24%-27.99%
  • No annual fee – You wo’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Flex℠ card
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 20.49% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 20.49% to 29.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • You want a versatile cash back credit card that earns rewards across various categories
  • You don’t mind the lower cash back rates for dining and drugstore purchases over previous Chase cards
  • You prefer to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee for premium Mastercard features

The Chase Freedom Flex is another quality option for last-minute spending. Cardmembers earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent per quarter on rotating categories, with the 2023 calendar looking like the following:

Date 5% Cash Back Category
Q1 January – March 2024 Grocery stores (excluding Walmart), self-care and spa services, plus fitness and gym memberships
Q2 April – June 2024 TBD
Q3 July – September 2024 TBD
Q4 October – December 2024 TBD

The calendar for Q4 2023 is perfect for those looking for a last-minute gift anywhere, as it includes PayPal. Using your PayPal account and Freedom Flex Card to pay for purchases in-store or online will earn you 5% back, regardless of the vendor – a great perk! Additionally, Q4 also includes select charities, meaning you can give the gift of love and hope to one of the following charitable causes:

  • American Red Cross
  • Equal Justice Initiatives
  • Feeding America
  • GLSEN
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • International Medical Corps
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Leadership Conference Education Fund

Cardmembers earn lucrative rewards on other transactions beyond the 5% back on quarterly categories. This includes 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on drugstores plus dining and restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), and 1% back on all other purchases.

Other great features of the Freedom Flex include no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and Mastercard cell phone protection, which provides up to $800 per claim (and $1,000 per year) in cell phone protection against any theft or damage for phones listed on cardmembers’ monthly bills.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
Excellent-Good-Fair
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Excellent / Good / Fair
Visa Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

  • 14.99%-29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 14.99% to 29.99% Balance Transfer APR

At a Glance

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® offers no fees, low rates, cash back, and credit lines from $500 to $25,000 in one unique package. The card provides consumers the flexibility and predictability to quickly pay down balances and get debt-free. The Upgrade credit card is one of the lowest regular APR credit cards on the market for those with excellent credit scores, putting it firmly on any list of the best balance transfer credit card deals – or any list of the best credit cards in the U.S.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • $200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking Plus account and making 3 debit card transactions*
  • Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment
  • Combine the flexibility of a credit card with the predictability of a personal loan
  • No annual fee
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Great for large purchases with predictable payments you can budget for
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud liability
  • *To qualify for the welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 qualifying debit card transactions from your Rewards Checking account within 60 days of the date the Upgrade Card account is opened. To qualify, debit card transactions must have settled and exclude ATM transactions. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information. Your Upgrade Card and Rewards Checking account must be open and in good standing to receive a bonus. If you have previously opened a Rewards Checking account or do not open one as part of this application process, you are not eligible for this welcome bonus offer. Welcome bonus offers cannot be combined, substituted, or applied retroactively. The bonus will be applied to your Rewards Checking account as a one-time payout credit within 60 days after the 3rd qualifying card purchase.
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99%-29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% to 29.99%
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Up to 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Up to 3%
  • You struggle to pay off your credit card balances
  • You want a structured repayment plan
  • You can reliably pay off your statement balances to earn cash back for your purchases
  • You have a desire to get debt-free quickly
  • You hate penalty or other hidden fees

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® is an unlimited cash back card that prioritizes simple, steady rewards over bonus categories or confusing programs. The card earns 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment, rewarding you for being financially responsible.

The Upgrade Card works in two ways. Cardholders can use their line of credit to make purchases at almost any merchant worldwide that accepts Visa. They can also transfer a portion of the funds from their credit line to their bank account to help tackle existing debt. This latter method makes the card a useful alternative for a balance transfer credit card.

The hybrid nature of the Upgrade Card makes it an excellent option for those who struggle with making payments with their regular credit cards. The structure of the installment plan makes it ideal for those who need help paying down their debts. This is especially true for those who prefer to carry a balance on their cards.

Editorial Disclosure – The opinions expressed on BestCards.com's reviews, articles, and all other content on or relating to the website are solely those of the content’s author(s). These opinions do not reflect those of any card issuer or financial institution, and editorial content on our site has not been reviewed or approved by these entities unless noted otherwise. Further, BestCards.com lists credit card offers that are frequently updated with information believed to be accurate to the best of our team's knowledge. However, please review the information provided directly by the credit card issuer or related financial institution for full details.

About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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BestCards is an independent, Florida-based credit card comparison platform. Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which BestCards receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). BestCards does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.