Attractive credit card sign-up offers come at a time when American consumers are hunting for cost-saving ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Consumer shopping usually hits a peak in the weeks leading up to Christmas. And this year, card issuers are tempting Americans to put their gift purchases on cash back credit cards.

In recent weeks, multiple cash back sign-up offers have emerged for some of the most popular cash back credit cards that have no annual fee.

There are currently two sign-up offers – $100 and $200 after spending $500 within 3 months of account opening – for each of these two cards: Citi Dividend World MasterCard® and Chase Freedom® Visa. The Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express is luring new customers by earning 5% cash back on eligible travel purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200.

The Citi Dividend World MasterCard® and Chase Freedom® Visa cards pay 5% cash back on purchases in categories that rotate on a quarterly basis while also offering 1% cash back on everything else.

In this holiday quarter, the categories are highly appropriate.

The bonus categories for Citi Dividend cards from October to December are department stores, clothing stores, electronics stores, and toy stores. For Chase Freedom, they’re dining, department stores, movie theaters, and charitable organizations.

However, applicants should note the differences between the $100 and $200 sign-up offers. For both Citi and Chase, each has one one offer with an introductory 0% APR and lower variable APR and the other just has a higher ongoing variable APR.

The Blue Cash Everyday card doesn’t have rotating categories but it makes for a handy cash back credit card for common household purchases that may swell up as families gather together during the holidays.

Blue Cash Everyday offers 3% cash back at supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% everywhere else.

Beware Gifting Overload

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, it’s one of the easiest times of the year to fall heavily into debt. It may become a perpetual spiral of overspending on gifts – whether for oneself or others – followed by 12 months of repayment before the cycle restarts.

Cash back credit cards tend to carry high interest rates compared to card with no rewards. So, they are ideally for consumers who can pay off their bills at the end of every months. It does not make any sense to earn 5% cash back and then pay interest at nearly 23% APR.

If signing up for one of these cards is your intention, make sure the cash back categories apply to your holiday shopping.

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