NerdWallet’s Best Store Credit Cards of 2021

NerdWalletJun 25, 2021

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If you tend to spend at one particular place more than anywhere else, a store-branded credit card could benefit you more than a general-purpose card might.

Even with so-so credit, from major retailers, and many such products have improved in recent years, offering better rewards and becoming more useful for everyday spending.

Make sure you know the difference between "closed-loop" cards and "open-loop" cards. Many store cards are "closed-loop" cards, meaning you can use them only at the issuing store, or perhaps at a group of stores under one company's umbrella. If you want a card you can use anywhere, look for one with a Visa or Mastercard label on the front. These are known as "open-loop" cards.

NerdWallet surveyed store credit cards from large outlets to find the most valuable picks. We also surveyed general-purpose bank credit cards that offered big rewards at department stores and other retailers. These offers topped our list.

Earn 5% back on Walmart.com and Walmart app purchases; 5% back in the first year on in-store purchases made using Walmart Pay (2% back after that); plus other rewards. $0 annual fee.

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The  can offer even more value when you shop at the big-box behemoth, where items are often already heavily discounted. During the first 12 months, the card offers 5% back on in-store purchases made through the Walmart Pay digital wallet. The rewards rate drops to 2% after that, making online shopping the best way to continue earning 5% (via Walmart’s app or website). You can maximize rewards by . Terms apply.

You'll also earn 2% back on non-store purchases such as dining and travel. All other purchases earn 1% back. Rewards are more flexible than those you'd earn with some other store cards. You can redeem for a statement credit or toward a purchase; apply points during checkout at Walmart.com; get gift cards; or use rewards for travel bookings via the Capital One portal.

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Earn an unlimited 5% back on Amazon.com purchases, plus other rewards. Annual fee of , but requires Amazon Prime membership.

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

If you shop heavily at Amazon.com and/or Whole Foods, and carry a $119-per-year Prime subscription, you might find that the  offers more value than general credit cards. With your Prime membership, you can already buy just about anything at a low price with free two-day shipping on Amazon.com. But with this card — which is made of metal — you can also earn an unlimited 5% back on those purchases, plus an unlimited 5% back on purchases made at Whole Foods. (Most general credit cards that offer 5% rewards have quarterly spending caps.) You'll also earn extra rewards in a handful of other popular everyday categories when using your card at other merchants. Rewards are redeemable toward Amazon purchases, as well as for cash back, gift cards and travel.

The card's versatility and robust rewards make it a strong pick for loyal Amazon Prime customers and those who regularly spend a fair amount at Whole Foods. But if you hardly use your Prime subscription, you might be better off with another card.

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Get 5% off purchases, plus 30 extra days for returns and free shipping on most items at Target.com. annual fee

Benefits of the 

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The  lets you save on your purchases upfront, without offering a complicated redemption program. If you're a frugal spender and do most of your shopping — clothes, food, furniture — at Target, this card's 5% discount could add up to hundreds of dollars in savings per year. Most general credit cards don't offer bonus rewards for shopping at discount outlets like Target. Cardholders also get free shipping on Target.com purchases and extra time for returns, valuable loyalty perks.

This card doesn't offer 0% financing and has high ongoing interest, so it's not a good deal if you're planning to carry a balance. But if you want to save on your Target purchases with a card that offers no-fuss discounts, it could be a good deal.

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Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Gap brands, in store or online, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.  annual fee.

Benefits of the 

Drawbacks of the 

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Verdict

If you do all of your wardrobe shopping at Gap and its sister stores, the high rewards rate and cardholder benefits on the  could save you money. It also offers excellent loyalty benefits. For instance, if you earn over 5,000 points in a calendar year, you'll achieve Gap Silver status, which snags you perks like free basic alterations on Banana Republic purchases.

As with most store cards, the lacks redemption flexibility. A general credit card can also offer elevated rewards in a much wider range of places or categories, not just Gap and its partner stores.

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5% off, or promotional financing. annual fee.

Benefits of the 

 annual fee. Offers either:

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The  has better rewards than most home improvement credit cards. Offering an unlimited 5% off all purchases, or special financing on larger purchases, this card earns a higher rewards rate on home improvement purchases than even most general credit cards. And because the rewards come as a 5% discount, instead of points to cash in on later, you'll get your savings upfront. If you opt for the promotional financing offer instead, you could save a small fortune on interest charges, assuming the balance is paid down on time.

This card is an outstanding pick if you frequently shop at Lowe's and want to earn more rewards on your purchases. If you're looking for a one-time discount and don't shop for home-improvement supplies often, though, you might be better off with another card.

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Earn elevated rewards at T.J. Maxx family of stores.  annual fee.

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The  can get you more rewards than a general credit card might, whether you're shopping for gifts, clothing, home decor or cookware. It offers an unlimited 5 points per dollar spent in T.J. Maxx and partner stores, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere — generous rewards, compared with other discount store credit cards. Keep in mind that most general credit cards don't offer bonus rewards for shopping at discount outlets.

But if you're looking for flexible rewards, you'd be better off with a different card.

Earn cash back on all purchases. Annual fee of , but requires Costco membership.

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

If you're already a Costco and Costco.com shopper, the  is an excellent card. The rewards rate on gas is among the highest around. You'll exceed the $7,000 cap on bonus rewards in that category only if you spend at least $135 a week on gas. You'll also be rewarded well for spending on restaurants and travel.

Redemption, though, can be a pain. Cash back comes in the form of a reward certificate, mailed to you each year with your February statement. You redeem it at a Costco store for cash or merchandise.

Earn 4% back on groceries and gas, 3% back at restaurants, 2% back on Verizon purchases and 1% back on all other purchases. annual fee.

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The offers excellent reward rates on everyday spending that goes beyond Verizon store purchases. Though rewards can be redeemed only via Verizon, this sleek metal card can save you money on eligible purchases and free up your budget to do more.

Rewards, known as Verizon Dollars, don’t expire as long as you're a Verizon customer and you earn or redeem them at least once every 24 months. That’s enough time to save up for a new phone, if that’s your preference, or you can cash in rewards sooner to purchase gift cards, book travel, or offset the cost of your phone or Fios internet bill. You'll save even more by signing up for autopay and paperless billing, up to $10 a month per account or per line, depending on the plan.

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Earn 5% cash back on rotating rewards categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases (activation required); 5% back on travel purchased through Chase; 3% back on dining at restaurants; 3% back at drugstores; 1% back on bonus category spending above $1,500 and any other spending. The annual fee is

Requires good credit (score of 690+).

Benefits of the

Drawbacks of the

Verdict

The  isn't a store card, but its store-specific bonus rewards make it worth considering. Historically, the card has featured big-name retailers in the rotating 5% bonus categories, including Walmart and Amazon.com. Other 5% categories have included restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. When you shop at major online retailers through Chase’s bonus mall, you can also rack up additional rewards.

The  doesn't come with some of the loyalty benefits that many store-branded cards offer, such as free shipping on online purchases or unlimited 5% rewards. But compared with other store cards, its rewards are much more versatile.

Earn 5% cash back on rotating rewards categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases (must opt in), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. New cardmember bonus. The annual fee is . Introductory APR of .

Requires good credit (score of 690+). 

Benefits of the 

Drawbacks of the 

Verdict

Like the , the also offers 5% cash back on rotating categories, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter (opt-in required; all other purchases earn 1% back). In the past, these bonus categories have included gas and ground transportation, home improvement stores, department stores and Amazon.com.

If you want other loyalty benefits, like free online shipping or exclusive sales, you may be better off with another offer.

Information related to the has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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