NerdWallet’s Best Store Credit Cards, Fall 2014
Store credit cards are rarely a good idea. Their rewards rates are almost always restricted to the stores themselves and the introductory perks are often lackluster – at times, they lose out even at their own stores! Take the Gap Visa for example – you get 3% at Gap stores, but the American Express Blue Cash gives you 3% on all department stores, with 6% on groceries and 3% on gas besides. Read on, and you’ll see why these unaffiliated shopping cards are often a better deal.
NerdWallet’s Top Store Credit Cards
- 14 months 0% purchase and balance transfer APR
- 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fee
American Express Blue Cash
The Blue Cash from American Express is hands down one of our favorite cards. The rewards categories are exceedingly generous, and better yet, as straightforward as can be. You earn an unlimited 2% rewards on all department stores. What’s more, you’ll earn 3% back at grocery stores (up to $6,000 spent annually) and 2% on gas (unlimited).
If you’re creative, when you’re at the grocery store, you can get back 3% on stores whose gift cards you find in the aisle, from iTunes to Amazon. Oh, and did we mention the Get 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months. Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period. signup bonus?
There’s also a higher-reward version of the card, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which carries a $75 annual fee. This charge, however, is easy to earn back. Spend as little as $25 at eligible supermarkets every week, and you’ll knock out the fee by year’s end. It’s no surprise why the Blue Cash is one of our favorites. The rewards are simple, and if you work the spending categories right, you can earn maximum points.
- Cash rewards
- 6% back on groceries
- 3% at department stores and gas stations
- Rewards cap: None
- Annual fee: $75
- Signup bonus: $150
- Q1 (January 1 – March 31): Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores
- Q2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants and Lowe’s home improvement stores
- Q3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations and Kohl’s
- Q4 (October 1 – December 31): Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores
All other purchases outside the bonus categories earn 1% back. With no annual fee, this all comes at a cost of free-ninety-nine. One of the main reasons the Chase Freedom makes an excellent shopping card is cardholder access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall–an online shopping mall on which cardholders earn 1-10% extra. The Mall contains a wide selection of retailers, from American Eagle to Zales and beyond. Now, remind me, why do you want a store-branded card?
- Cash back rewards
- 5% rewards on rotating bonus categories
- Rewards cap: $1,500 in bonus spending per quarter
- Annual fee: None
- Signup bonus: Get a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Store credit card rewards rates
Now that’s you’ve seen our tops shopping card picks, here are a few of the credit cards offered by some of the most popular stores in the US.
|Card||In-Store Rewards||Other Perks||Base Reward Rate||APR|
|American Eagle Visa||4%||15% off first purchase
20% birthday coupon
|Apple (Barclaycard iTunes Rewards Visa)||2%||$10 iTunes gift card on 2ndpurchase
6-12 mo. intro APR
|Best Buy Reward Zone MasterCard**
Has special financing offer similar to store-only
|4%||2% back when you use special financing options
$25 gift card after first purchase
|1%||17.99%-21.74%, $0-$59 annual fee|
|Bloomingdales AmEx||1.5%||double points on perfumes and fragrances, buy 5 shoes get 6th 25% off
Free meal and drink after spending $100 at their restaurants
|Brooks Brothers Platinum MasterCard||4%||15% off first purchase, free shipping on returns||1%||14.24%-21.24%|
|Gap credit card (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic)||5%||30% off first purchase
Earn rewards with affiliates
|Home Depot Consumer Credit Card (store only)||0%||6 months interest-free financing||0%||17.99% – 26.99%|
|Kohl’s Charge Card||20% (not limited to cardholders)||15%-30% off purchases
15% first purchase
|Nordstrom’s Visa Signature||2%||Tiered rewards||1%||14.9%-22.9%|
|Saks Fifth Avenue MasterCard||$0-$5k: 2%
|3% at spas and salons, 2% on groceries
10% off first purchase
|Sears credit card||0%||“Exciting offers” every month – Only usable at certain stores, including Sears Kmart and more||0%||Not available|
|Target REDCard (in-store only)||5%||Extra 5% off one day if you fill 5 prescriptions
|Walmart Credit Card||0%||$20 back on first purchase of $100+
15 cent/gallon discount on Walmart gas
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