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If your spending habits were radically altered by the coronavirus, your current go-to credit card may no longer be optimized to give you the best rewards.
Travel, gas and restaurant spending — typically some of the biggest credit card rewards categories — have taken a hit. Shopping for groceries and household essentials, on the other hand, continues as Americans spend more time at home.
While you don’t necessarily want to close your travel card just because you're no longer hitting the road (or the skies), you might want to at least consider pulling out a different card as you order items. Store cards can help you optimize the money you’re getting back at a time when many household and grocery purchases come from the same go-to store.
Here are some of the best store cards to help you optimize your rewards during this pandemic:
Prime Visa, from Amazon
During the pandemic, so many people have been ordering groceries and household essentials from Amazon that the online megastore had to hire 175,000 more employees to meet demand.
The good news for Amazon shoppers is that using the Prime Visa to pay for all of those orders of toilet paper and snacks makes it easier to stretch your budget: The card offers 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods, and that includes grocery delivery orders. The card also offers 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% back on all other purchases. (UPDATE: As of May 2023, the reward structure on this card has changed. For up to date information, see NerdWallet's review of the Prime Visa.)
While the card doesn’t charge an annual fee, you must have a Prime membership to apply.
The numbers: If you spend $800 a month on your groceries and household items at Amazon using the Prime Visa, you'll earn $40 back in rewards each month.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
As with the Prime Visa, you will need a Costco membership to get this card, but there is no additional annual fee. Cardholders earn 2% back on Costco and Costco.com purchases (as well as 4% back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases up to $7,000 per year, 3% back on restaurants and eligible travel and 1% back on everything else).
The numbers: If you spend $800 a month on groceries and household items at Costco, you will get $16 back in your pocket. (The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi provides the rewards in the form of an annual certificate.)
Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®
With the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®, cardholders earn 5% back on Walmart.com and Walmart app purchases, and that includes Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery. You also earn 2% back for in-store purchases at Walmart (and 5% back on in-store purchases if you use the Walmart Pay digital wallet during your first 12 months). (The card also offers 2% back on travel and restaurants and 1% back on everything else.)
The numbers: With a rewards rate that matches the Prime Visa, ordering $800 on Walmart.com or through the app using the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® will earn you $40 back.
Target REDcard™ Credit Card
For Target shoppers, Target REDcard™ Credit Card provides a great deal: a 5% discount on all eligible Target purchases, a 10% discount coupon each year on your card anniversary, and free shipping on most Target.com items.
The numbers: As with Prime Visa and Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®, the 5% discount rate adds up to $40 in savings per $800 spent.