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5 Best Rewards Cards For Holiday Shopping

Stocks in this article: SBUX AMZN CVS IHG

Amazon Prime
While not a loyalty program in the typical card-purchase-reward sense, the Amazon Prime program performs the same basic function: getting a loyal consumer spending.

During holidays past, Amazon (AMZN) Prime was basically a $79 down payment on free two-day shipping for the season. If you get enough of those logo-bedecked corrugated cardboard boxes left on your doorstep or in your lobby around that time of year, it could be considered a bargain. To more casual shoppers, however, it was just another holiday cost tacked on by another retail clip joint.

That's largely changed thanks to Amazon's new agreements with entertainment companies and partnerships with GoogleTV (GOOG), Panasonic (PC), Sony (SNE - Get Report), LG, Roku, TiVo (TIVO - Get Report), Samsung and Vizio that's made Amazon Prime a Netflix (NFLX - Get Report)-style streaming service as well as a shipping option. While Amazon Instant Video's 10,000 options are still slightly less than what you find on Netflix, unlimited access to its service via Prime is almost $16 a month less than the folks with the red envelope and still includes free two-day shipping on orders of any size.

Those invested in Amazon to the point that they own a Kindle reader or tablet also get the benefit of free loaner books through Amazon's lending library for signing up with Prime. If you're going to create a loyalty program that asks for all its money upfront, this is the kind of holiday incentive you need to provide.

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