Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from our advertisers. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. To learn more, see our advertising policy. Assessments of products are based on Airfarewatchdog’s independent editorial judgement.

Editor's note: Some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through our site.

Retailers and consumers alike recognize that the holiday season is a time of peak spending. And while this will mean big profits for retailers, shoppers should be looking to maximize the points and miles they earn from their increased purchases.

The two ways to use credit cards to maximize your holiday shopping

There are two ways to use your holiday shopping to earn the most rewards. The first is to use your holiday purchases to more easily meet a minimum spending requirement to earn a bonus on a new account. Many credit cards offer new accounts 50,000 or more points or miles after spending a specified amount within a certain time period. If you’ll be spending more than usual during the holidays, then this can be an opportunity to earn more rewards than you could have otherwise.

The other strategy is to use the right card for your holiday purchases, meaning the one that will offer you the most valuable rewards for your spending. You can do this by holding cards that offer bonuses for the kind of holiday purchase you make.

These four travel rewards credit cards are great for earning on holiday purchases:

American Express Gold Card

For most Americans, the holidays are largely about sharing meals with family and friends. Whether you’re eating in or going out, this card offers you 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants around the world and at US supermarkets. You can also use your holiday spending to earn the 35,000 bonus points that new accounts receive after spending $4,000 within the first three months. This card offers an annual $100 travel statement credit and $120 in dining credits, and it has a $250 annual fee. (See rates and fees)

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

When you like to shop at department stores over the holidays, and you prefer cash back, then the Blue Cash Everyday can make sense. It offers you 3% cashback at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent each year, and unlimited 2% back at select US department stores and at US gas stations. You earn 1% cashback on all other purchases.

New applicants receive a $150 statement credit after spending just $1,000 within three months of account opening, as well as 15 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. And best of all, there’s no annual fee for this card. (See rates and fees)

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

When it comes to saving money on holiday shopping, it’s hard to go wrong at Costco, which often has the lowest prices anyways. So when you can save another 2% at Costco and Costco.com purchases, you’re really getting a deal. This card also offers 4% cashback on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year, (and then 1%), and 3% cashback on restaurants and eligible travel purchases. There’s no annual fee with your paid Costco membership.

Citi Double Cash

With this card, you can forget bonus categories and simply earn up to 2% cashback on all purchases, with no limits. You earn 1% cashback at the time of purchase, and another 1% when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2%. And there’s no annual fee for this card.

Stay on top of breaking sales, fare drops, and more! Follow us on Twitter at @Airfarewatchdog. And make sure to sign up for FREE airfare alerts to be notified when prices drop.

Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

More Stories You'll Love