For parents juggling the costs of kids’ activities, grocery store visits, gas and countless other monthly expenses, a credit card that helps stretch your budget with cash back or rewards can be an essential tool. And since parents generally don’t have a lot of free time on their hands, it also helps if the rewards are easy to earn and redeem.
With those factors in mind, we picked the best credit cards for families, organized by the spending categories parents find themselves frequently using: everyday expenses, grocery stores and restaurant meals, travel, and shopping.
For everyday spending
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns 1% back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% back when you pay it off, earning an effective rewards rate of 2% on all eligible purchases.
That rate is hard to beat, especially when you consider the annual fee is $0, and you don’t have to add to your to-do list by opting in to rotating categories every month or quarter. For busy families, that kind of simplicity can be appealing.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card also offers a flat-rate rewards structure. Cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase; no opting in is required. The card also comes with a sign-up bonus: One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
The card’s annual fee is $0. Cardholders can also take advantage of the 0% introductory APR offer: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR. That could be helpful for families who need to finance a large purchase.
While the Chase Freedom®’s rewards structure is a bit more complicated than the flat-rate cash-back cards above, the earnings potential might make it worthwhile.
The card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories you activate each quarter (1% back on all else). Those rotating bonus categories tend to be popular with families and in the past have included things like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, drugstores and wholesale clubs. (Here’s the list of current bonus categories.)
While you have to opt in to the bonus categories each quarter, parents organized enough to remember to do so will reap rich rewards.
The card’s annual fee is $0, and it comes with an introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR. There’s also a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
For grocery stores or restaurant meals
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%). It also earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit, another category where families tend to drop a lot of dough each month. It also offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Non-bonus-category spending earns 1% back. Terms apply.
The card has an annual fee of $95. But if you spend more than $31 at the grocery store each week — an easy threshold for most families — then the rewards you’ll earn will outweigh the annual fee.
New cardholders will be eligible for a welcome offer: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. The card also offers an intro 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR.
Families that prefer to avoid cards with annual fees might want to consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express instead; it earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending each year (then 1%); 2% back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; and 1% back on other purchases. Terms apply.
It, too, has a welcome offer: $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Families who frequently enjoy restaurant meals might want to consider the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment spending, as well as 2% back at grocery stores (and 1% back on all other purchases).
The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. The card comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
If you’re not sure about that annual fee but like the sound of the dining and entertainment rewards, take a look at the Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card, which has an annual fee of $0. Cardholders earn 3% back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at the grocery store and 1% back on everything else. There’s also a signup bonus: Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card can be a great fit for moms or dads who see a lot of their dollars go toward restaurant meals or ordering in, but who don’t want to pay an annual fee. The card earns:
- 3 points for both dining out at restaurants and ordering in.
- 3 points for spending at gas stations, on rideshares and on other forms of transit.
- 3 points for travel spending, which includes flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals.
- 3 points for streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify Premium.
- 1 point for all other purchases.
The annual fee is $0. The card has a generous welcome offer, which the issuer phrases this way: “Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value.”
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you’re looking for a general travel card that allows you to earn and redeem rewards across multiple airlines and hotel chains, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a solid choice. It earns 2 points on travel and restaurant dining and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
There’s also a rich sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The annual fee is $95.
If you’re a bigger spender with a bigger family travel budget, then you might want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® instead, which has a higher annual fee but also larger rewards.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another great option for families looking for a card they can use to earn and redeem rewards with flexibility. Cardholders earn 2 miles on every purchase as well as 10 miles per dollar when booking with Hotels.com (offer available through January 2020).
The card also offers a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
For families that love staying at Hiltons, the Hilton Honors American Express Card can help stretch their travel budgets: Cardholders earn 7 Hilton Honors bonus points for purchases at Hilton hotels or resorts; 5 points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3 points for all other eligible purchases. There is also a welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Families who are bigger spenders might want to consider the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. It has an annual fee of $95, but it also offers more generous rewards, as well as airport lounge access.
For general shopping
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Maybe your family already enjoys the convenience of Amazon Prime, with its two-day free shipping and access to Prime Video — which contains plenty of kids’ programming, among other benefits. If so, then applying for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card can be a relatively easy decision. Cardholders enjoy:
- 5% cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.
- 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.
- 1% back on all other purchases.
The card’s annual fee is $0, although you must be an Amazon Prime member, and standard membership costs $119 a year.
Target REDcard™ Credit Card
If Target is your go-to store, the Target REDcard™ Credit Card can help you save.
Cardholders get 5% off nearly all of their Target and Target.com purchases (some exclusions apply), along with free shipping. It also offers you extra time to make returns. The card’s annual fee is $0.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
If you rely on wholesale clubs for your family’s household purchases, getting a card specific to your club of choice could pay off. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers 4% back on gas purchases (on up to $7,000 of spending a year, then 1% back); 3% back on travel and dining; 2% back on Costco purchases; and 1% back on everything else.
The annual fee is $95, but you must be a Costco member, and membership starts at $60 per year.
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.