Nice shoes! How much? A hundred dollars? By any chance, did the store hand you back $5 that you could use toward your next pair or anything else you want? If you had used the right credit card, that’s basically what would have happened.
Among the many good reasons to put every purchase on a credit card are the rewards that amount to a discount on everything you buy. (And if you pay your bill in full each month, you won’t pay interest.)
To turn your great taste in shoes into more credit card rewards, think first about how you buy those shoes and where. Then look for a card that pays you the highest possible rewards rate at those places.
Pros and cons of store cards
If you outfit your feet at one particular store, the natural inclination is to get that store’s own credit card, which might give you rewards or discounts of 3%, 5% or more. The Target REDcard™ Credit Card, for example, offers a 5% discount on all eligible Target purchases and also gives you a 10% discount coupon on your card’s anniversary each year. (It also provides 30 extra days for returns in case the shoes don’t fit.)
Other store cards offer similar perks: the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 5% back at Amazon.com, where there are plenty of shoes available; the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® offers 5% back on Walmart.com and Walmart app purchases (and 2% back for in-store purchases in case you prefer to try the shoes on first).
Store credit cards tend to have higher interest rates, though, so if you carry a balance, it could cost you more and chew up the rewards you earn pretty quickly. Many store cards are “closed-loop,” meaning they can only be used in that particular store and not elsewhere. Rewards redemption can also be more limited — often your rewards can be applied toward more purchases at the store.
If you spread your shoe-shopping business around, look beyond store brands to general-purpose credit cards.
Rewards that follow you around
For credit card rewards that are portable from store to store, you have two main choices:
- Flat-rate rewards cards, which pay the same rewards percentage (1.5% to 2%) on every purchase you make, shoes included, no matter where you shop.
- Bonus rewards cards, which pay rewards of up to 5% in certain categories, such as department stores.
The highest rates for shoe shopping will tend to come on cash-back cards. Among cards that earn travel points, you can find some good flat-rate options, but bonus travel rewards cards tend to focus on travel-adjacent categories. (And no, buying shoes at the airport won’t count.)
More money answers from the Nerds:
- Should I put this all on my card and get the points?
- Which credit card turns gas miles into airline miles?
- Which credit card is my ticket to that fancy lounge?