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Whether you’re shopping for a last-minute gift, treating yourself to something nice or hunting for in-house bargains, your trip to a department store doesn’t have to strain your wallet.
The right credit card can put some money back in your pocket in the form of rewards. This way, you can splurge or save a little more — your choice.
Here are some of NerdWallet’s favorite credit cards that offer big rewards for department store purchases.
Top credit cards for department stores
U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
Our pick for: Maximum flexibility
5% cash back on two categories of your choice from a list of several options (on up to $2,000 spent per quarter on combined purchases).
2% cash back on an everyday category of your choice, such as gas, groceries or restaurants.
1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-up bonus: $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.
Annual fee: $0.
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74%-24.74% Variable APR.
The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card lets you choose from several 5% categories, and among the choices as of November 2021 were select department stores. When you’re not shopping at department stores, you can change your categories within U.S. Bank’s quarterly window. The 0% introductory APR can also offer a nice interest-free break, which is especially useful if you spend big at department stores.
Not all department stores qualify. Neither Walmart nor Target is eligible to earn the top 5% cash back rate. Plus, you have to remember to opt in to bonus categories every quarter and keep spending caps in mind to qualify for that high rewards rate. Otherwise, you’ll earn only 1%.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Our pick for: Simplicity
2% back on all purchases: 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay.
Sign-up bonus: None.
Annual fee: $0.
APR: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74%-24.74% Variable APR.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a low-maintenance card that doesn’t require opting in, remembering categories or staying on top of spending caps. You don't have to keep track of which department stores qualify for the rewards rate because all purchases are eligible for the same amount. And since you can collect rewards everywhere, the cash back can add up quickly.
This card doesn’t offer much in the way of introductory incentives, such as a sign-up bonus or 0% introductory APR for purchases.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our pick for: Everyday rewards
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%).
2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
1% cash back on all other purchases.
Terms apply (see rates and fees).
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns rewards in everyday categories such as groceries and gas, making it easy to collect cash back along the way. For those who frequently spend at department stores, it also offers a solid 2% rewards rate. Also noteworthy is the lack of annual fee, and the lengthy interest-free period it offers compared with some other cards. Terms apply.
Even though the rewards rate at department stores is good, only some U.S. department stores qualify. Unless you’re taking full advantage of the card’s other rewards categories, you may be better off with a flat-rate credit card that earns the same amount of rewards wherever you shop.
Stein Mart Platinum Mastercard®
Our pick for: Stein Mart loyalists
1 point per $1 spent in-store and online at Stein Mart.
1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.
Sign-up bonus: None.
Annual fee: $0.
APR: The ongoing APR is 28.99% Variable.
The Stein Mart Platinum Mastercard® earns rewards at the retailer online, in-store and everywhere that Mastercard is accepted. It also offers some introductory incentives for new cardholders: 10% off the first online purchase and a $10 Stein Mart reward certificate. Terms apply. This card also offers a chance to enroll in the Stein Mart Elite Rewards Program automatically after you spend $500 or more in purchases per calendar year. With this new status, you're eligible for more perks and rewards.
The introductory incentives for new cardholders fall short compared with those offered by general rewards credit cards. Redemptions also have limitations. Rewards redeem only for Stein Mart reward certificates that can only be used at the retailer's locations.
Other credit cards to consider
A lot of the merchandise you might find in department stores is also available through other retailers. Some of them may even offer co-branded credit cards that make you eligible for discounts, rewards or perks.
Amazon, for example, sells a variety of clothing, furniture, accessories and very nearly anything else you can think of. If you're already an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers a high 5% rewards rate when you spend at Amazon, not to mention at Whole Foods. The annual fee is $0, but of course you'll still owe your annual Amazon Prime membership fee, which currently costs $139 a year.
And don’t dismiss a one-stop-shop warehouse like Costco if you prefer gas, groceries and department store-type merchandise in bulk. You can find pretty much everything you need there, and as a Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi cardholder, you can earn cash back on those purchases, not to mention on travel expenses as well. The annual fee is $0, but to get the card you must be a Costco member, which does require a yearly fee. Currently, the membership fee starts at $60 per year.
Or if you're just not into paying an annual membership fee, a big-box store like Target sells much of what you would find in a typical department store. And if you have the Target REDcard™ Credit Card, you'll snag a 5% discount on almost all of your purchases — no yearly membership required.
For new additions to your wardrobe, consider credit cards with fashion-forward retailers. Some — like the Old Navy Visa® Credit Card and the TJX Rewards® Platinum Mastercard® — offer perks and discounts that could be valuable to store loyalists.
These cards aren't ideal for every wallet, but you may be missing out on value if you already spend a lot at your favorite store or pay an annual membership fee.
Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.