[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]
Credit cards have the unfortunate reputation of being a shopaholic’s enabler. While it’s true credit cards can make it really easy to get into (very expensive) debt and make a mess of your credit scores and finances, the best shopping credit cards are also remarkable financial tools. That is, they’re great if you resist the temptation to overspend and use the right cards at the right time.
Credit cards that reward shopping can be especially valuable because you can earn points or cash back on everyday purchases, and most people find themselves needing to go shopping a few times a month, if not more frequently. That’s a lot of rewards-earning potential.
How to Pick a Shopping Credit Card
A few things to know about what to look for in a credit card that rewards shopping: Many credit cards that reward patronizing a specific store can only be used at that store. However, many stores offer both a store credit card and a co-branded card with one of the major credit card networks (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), so you can use it anywhere that accepts such cards. The Visa or MasterCard version of a store credit card often has higher qualification standards, but it also allows you to earn rewards faster by using it at other places. Credit cards with rewards also tend to carry high interest rates, so if you’re thinking of using one to finance purchases, you’ll want to see if the card offers promotional financing of some sort. Otherwise, you may want to look for a more affordable financing option. Remember, to get the best offers, whether it comes to interest or rewards, you’ll need good credit. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
Shopping, of course, covers a wide range of things — buying clothes, furnishings and household necessities, to name a few — and because there are so many purchases that fall under the “shopping” category, we decided to look at credit cards that have good rewards but also appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Here are our picks for the best shopping credit cards based on value and cost. (Note: For all the fine print, please see the card agreements.)
Our Picks for the Best Shopping Credit Cards
Why We Picked It: This card has a consistent, high rewards rate — 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% cash back when you pay the bill, effectively giving you 2% cash back on everything you buy. If you shop at a wide variety of stores, this allows you to maximize the value of your purchases without having to be strategic about where you make them. (Full disclosure: Citi advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Additional Details: There are no limits on how much cash back you can earn, making this a valuable card for everyday purchases. The Citi Double Cash (see full review here) also has a 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers, if you’re looking to pay off any existing credit card debt (balance transfers carry a $5 or 3% fee, whichever is greater). There’s a variable penalty APR of up to 29.99% if you make a late payment or if your payment is returned, in addition to a $35 fee, and, if you’re charged interest, the interest will be no less than $0.50. Foreign transactions carry a 3% fee.
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 14.49% to 24.49%, based on credit, after the 18-month introductory APR expires.
Amazon Prime Store Card
Why We Picked It: The 5% cash back on qualified Amazon purchases adds to the savings already enjoyed by Amazon Prime members (if the $99 annual membership is worth it for you). The 5% reward is automatically added to your account as a statement credit. Amazon also offers an Amazon gift card as a signup bonus (the amount varies by current promotion), and store card holders can also access a variety of promotional financing offers, which can come in handy for large purchases. Check the card offer for details at the time you’re considering applying.
Additional Details: The Amazon Prime Store Card can only be used for purchases on Amazon.com. If you apply for the Amazon Store Card and later become a Prime member, you can upgrade to the Prime Store Card to access the 5% cash back reward. There is a minimum interest charge of $1.50 and a late payment fee of up to $35.
Annual Fee: None, though you need to have an Amazon Prime membership ($99 annually, though discounted rates are available) to access the 5% cash back reward
APR: Variable 26.74%
Alternative: Amazon shoppers who want more than a store card may want to consider the Amazon.com Rewards Visa by Chase, which can be used anywhere that accepts Visa. Cardholders earn 3% back on Amazon.com, 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores, and 1% on everything else. There’s also an Amazon gift card instant signup bonus (again, the offer may vary). It has a variable 14.99% to 22.99% APR. Fees include, but are not limited to, a late payment fee of up to $37 and a returned payment fee of up to $37. There are no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee.
Why We Picked It: Target REDcard holders save 5% on every Target purchase — it’s nice to get the upfront savings, rather than wait for a statement credit or have to remember to redeem rewards. REDcard holders also get free shipping on most Target.com orders and an extra 30 days for returns.
Additional Details: Shoppers can only use the Target REDcard at Target stores and Target.com (the Target REDcard MasterCard is no longer available to new customers). And if you’re not used to having to remember a PIN when using a credit card, this card will be an adjustment: Target REDcards do not have a magnetic stripe, so you’ll need to remember your PIN to complete an in-store transaction. The minimum interest charge is $1, late payment fees can be as much as $38 and a returned payment fee can be as much as $27.
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 23.65%
Alternative: Target also offers a REDcard debit card for those who do not want to use a credit card. The 5% discount and free shipping benefit is the same as the credit card.
Why We Picked It: With Chase Freedom’s 5% cash back in rotating categories, cardholders have the potential to earn hefty rewards on everyday purchase without limiting themselves to a specific retailer. You can read a full review of the Chase Freedom here.
Additional Details: Cardholders can activate their quarterly reward categories to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases in that category. (For example, the 2016 categories were gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and department stores.) All other purchases earn 1% cash back. There’s also a signup bonus of $150 if you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account, and new account holders can take advantage of a 0% APR for 15 months on purchases or balance transfers (the balance transfer fee is $5 or 5%, whichever is higher). Late payments and returned payments may result in a fee of up to $37 each, and foreign transactions carry a 3% fee.
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% 15-month introductory rate, then variable 15.99% to 24.74%
Alternative: If the rotating categories don’t appeal to you, Chase also offers the Freedom Unlimited, which cardholders can use to earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The promotional financing offers, fees and APRs are the same as the Chase Freedom.
Gap Visa Card
Why We Picked It: Gap Visa Card holders can access a wide variety of rewards at several stores with nationwide locations: Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta.
Additional Details: Gap Visa Card holders earn five points for every $1 spent at those stores (and online), which amounts to a $5 award every 500 points, and one point per dollar everywhere else Visa is accepted. You get 15% off your first purchase with the card, and you can earn 500 points for signing up for promotional emails, plus 500 points when you opt for paperless statements. If you earn 5,000 points in a calendar year, you can upgrade to Gap Silver, which includes a variety of rewards like a 20% quarterly rewards point bonus, free basic alterations, free shipping on qualified purchases and a “Choose Your Own Sale” day. There’s a minimum interest charge of $1.50, and late payment fees are as much as $37. Foreign transactions carry a 3% fee.
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 25.74%
Alternative: You can also apply for a GapCard, which offers five points per dollar spent at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta, but can’t be used elsewhere. The APR and late payment fee are the same, but the minimum interest charge is $1.
TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard
Why We Picked It: Much like Gap, TJX has a variety of national retailers: T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post. These discount stores cover a lot of consumers needs, from clothing to furniture, making their credit card a great option for someone who wants to earn rewards on a swath of goods.
Additional Details: TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard holders earn five points for every dollar spent in stores and online at T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post, and you get a $10 rewards certificate per 1,000 points. You also earn one point per dollar everywhere else MasterCard is accepted, and while your points do not expire, the certificates must be redeemed within two years of issuance. You also get 10% off your first purchase with the card. There’s a minimum interest charge of $2, and late payment fees are as much as $35.
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 27.74%
Alternative: You can also apply for a TJX Rewards Credit Card, which offers five points per dollar spent at TJX retailers but can’t be used elsewhere. The APR, late payment fee and minimum interest charge are the same.
At publishing time, the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.