Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
You might wonder if it’s worth applying for a store credit card to help you save on purchases or get access to sales and discounts. Retail stores often pitch store credit cards to customers at the register (or online checkout these days), enticing you with a discount on your purchase in exchange for signing up.
Typically, store credit cards aren’t a great idea and are unlikely to rank among TPG’s picks for the all-around best credit cards. Their sign-up bonuses usually aren’t as good as our favorite cash-back or travel cards, their rewards aren’t flexible and their annual percentage rates are higher than average.
However, store cards aren’t all bad. And if you spend a lot of money at one family of retailers, a store card could be a great option for you.
Here are the store cards that get our stamp of approval.
The best store credit cards
The information for the Amazon Prime card, Target RedCard and Capital One Walmart card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature
Annual fee: $0 (but you must have a Prime membership, which is $139 a year).
Sign-up bonus: $100 Amazon gift card instantly upon approval.
Rewards rate: Earn 5% back on Amazon (including Prime membership) and Whole Foods purchases; 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.
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When it makes sense to apply: If you already have an Amazon Prime membership and regularly spend money at Amazon and Whole Foods, this is a solid store card to have in your wallet. Most credit cards don’t code Amazon as a bonus category (though rotating category cards occasionally offer 5% cash back at Amazon one quarter a year). With the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, you earn 5% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods.
The card also earns decent rewards across regular spending categories, with 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores. Those rewards can be redeemed toward Amazon purchases, cash back, gift cards or even travel, making this a versatile card for any Amazon Prime lover.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa.
Related: The best credit cards for Amazon purchases
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Get $40 off a future qualifying purchase over $40 when you sign up by April 8.
Rewards rate: Get a 5% discount on all eligible Target purchases along with 2% rewards on dining and gas purchases and 1% everywhere else outside of Target. Rewards are redeemed as a Target GiftCard.
When it makes sense to apply: Cardholders receive a 5% discount on every eligible Target purchase, both in-store and online, plus a 5% discount at Starbucks locations inside Target. Since Target spending doesn’t earn bonus rewards with many other credit cards, frequent shoppers can save a lot of money by using the Target RedCard. Best of all, specialty gift card purchases (such as Disney gift cards) qualify for the 5% discount as well.
You’ll also get 30 extra days for returns and free shipping on most Target online purchases.
This certainly isn’t a lucrative card, but for no annual fee, it can be a card worth having if you frequently shop at Target.
Related: The best credit cards for Target purchases
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi
Annual fee: $0 (with paid Costco membership).
Sign-up bonus: N/A.
Rewards rate: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (on up to $7,000 per year; then 1%); 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% on all other purchases from Costco online and in-store.
When it makes sense to apply: If you’re a dedicated Costco fan who already has a membership ($60 for Gold Star and $120 for Executive Gold Star), this card doesn’t come with an annual fee. While you’re only getting 2% on general Costco purchases, this is a decent Swiss Army knife card if you want to earn cash back across multiple spending categories.
You’ll also get purchase protection. The downside? You have to wait an entire year to get your cash-back rewards and you must redeem them at Costco for either merchandise or cash rebates. Costco mails out cash rebates once a year — after your February billing statement closes — instead of letting users redeem them at any point.
For more details, check out our full review of the Costco Anywhere Visa Card.
Related: The 5 best Visa cards for Costco purchases
Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 5% cash back on in-store Walmart purchases for the first 12 months when you use Walmart Pay.
Rewards rate: Earn 5% at Walmart.com, including grocery pickup and delivery; 2% back on in-store Walmart purchases (including Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations), restaurants and travel.
When it makes sense to apply: Walmart purchases are almost always excluded from supermarket and grocery store bonus categories, with the exception of the occasional rotating bonus category. If you’re shopping almost exclusively for groceries and other expenses at Walmart, get gas at Walmart fuel stations and shop at Walmart.com, it makes sense to look at a card that earns rewards at Walmart.
The good thing about the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard is that the cash back you earn on your purchases can be used for a statement credit or gift cards, or redeemed for travel through Capital One. You aren’t limited to using these rewards for just Walmart purchases like some other store cards.
Reward cards to maximize store purchases
If you can’t justify having a specific store card, there are several rewards credit cards that can help you maximize your purchases.
Chase Freedom Flex
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Rewards rate on store purchases: Earn 5% on up to $1,500 spent on quarterly rotating categories (activation required).
Standout benefits: You could earn up to $300 each year in bonus cash back if you’re maximizing categories every quarter. These categories vary, but you’ll typically find department stores and superstores like Target or Walmart make an appearance at least once a year, as well as purchases at Amazon.com. Department stores often have their own retail cards they try to market, though the Freedom Flex is an excellent alternative.
Cardholders also earn rewards on bonus categories, including 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and 3% back at drugstores.
If you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — you’ll also be able to pool the cash back you earn on the Freedom Flex and redeem it for travel through the Chase portal for a bonus or transfer to an airline or hotel partner.
For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Flex.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent) in the first year – worth up to $300 cash back.
Rewards rate on store purchases: Earn 1.5% back on every purchase.
Standout benefits: Like the Freedom Flex, cardholders also earn rewards on additional bonus categories, including 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and 3% back at drugstores.
While the Freedom Unlimited isn’t as flashy as some of the other cards on this list, remember that you’re getting a guaranteed 1.5% cash back on most purchases and even higher on the categories listed above.
If you aren’t particularly loyal to one store for your shopping needs, this is a great card to make sure you’re earning bonus rewards no matter what. And you can also pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other Chase cards to maximize your redemption options beyond cash back.
For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Official application link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual fee: $0.
Rewards rate on store purchases: Earn 2% back on purchases — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill.
Other standout benefits: Similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Citi Double Cash earns flat-rate cash back across all purchases. Whether you’re shopping at Walmart, Target, Macy’s or any store in between, you’ll get 2% back with this card. Plus, you can convert Citi Double Cash rewards into ThankYou rewards, which makes this card even more valuable.
For more details, check out our full review of the Citi Double Cash.
Official application link: Citi Double Cash Card
What benefits do store cards offer?
Store credit cards generally offer brand-specific rewards to cardholders. Some offer one-time discounts as welcome offers or ongoing discounts rather than straightforward rewards. You might also get “elite status” that entitles you to exclusive sales and rewards. The more attractive store cards are “open loop,” meaning you can use them anywhere the payment network is accepted. However, some are private label or closed loop, meaning they are only accepted at a specific merchant.
Related: The best credit cards for buying clothes
When does it make sense to have a store credit card?
There are a few scenarios where it makes sense to have a store card. For one, if you’re spending thousands of dollars every year at a particular store that doesn’t earn decent rewards with a general rewards card, the rewards earned through the store card might be worth it.
Those trying to build or repair their credit can also find that it makes sense to have a store credit card. Generally speaking, store credit cards are easier to get approved for than standard rewards credit cards. If you’re just starting out and don’t have enough credit established to be approved for a card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you might have better luck with a store card. Just make sure you’re choosing a store card that you will get value from (so don’t apply for an Old Navy credit card if you rarely shop there).
But before you sign up for a store card, do your research to make sure it’s a card worth getting.
Related: Store vs. cash-back credit cards: Which one should I get?
Using shopping portals
Since most of us are shopping online at our favorite retailers these days, there is another way to earn rewards and maximize those purchases — online shopping portals. Whether you want additional cash back, airline miles or even bonus transferable points on your credit card, there’s likely a shopping portal out there to help you. And these rewards are typically stacked on top of any rewards you’d get through your credit card. So, for example, if you get 1.5% back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and use the American Airlines shopping portal to get 3 miles per dollar, you’re double dipping rewards.
Related: The beginners guide to airline shopping portals
Store credit cards may not be as lucrative as travel credit cards or even top cash-back credit cards, but that doesn’t mean every store card is worthless. There are situations where it makes sense to keep a store card or two in your wallet to use on certain purchases, and there are actually a few store cards, such as the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa, that make for decent all-around cards. However, you’re most likely going to be better off with a rewards credit card that provides a way to earn flexible rewards across a variety of purchase categories.
No matter what kind of card you’re in the market for, make sure you’re comparing your options and choosing the right card for your spending habits.
Additional reporting by Emily Thompson and Benét J. Wilson.
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