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Department stores are ideal for shoppers who appreciate customer-friendly return policies, a variety of brands, competitive sales and the convenience of one-stop shopping. Beyond store credit cards, there are plenty of other credit cards that offer lucrative rewards on department store purchases.
When searching for the best credit card for department stores, there are some standouts. Many of these cards provide valuable rewards structures, plus retail protections like extended warranty coverage and purchase protection.
Best credit cards for department stores
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: Best for higher rates of cash back
With the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card, you can earn 5 percent cash back in two categories of your choice (on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent). You’ll also earn 5 percent back on prepaid airfare, hotel stays and car rentals through the Rewards Travel Center, 2 percent back on one choice everyday category and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Rewards can be redeemed for statement credits, a deposit to an eligible U.S. Bank account, a U.S. Bank Rewards prepaid card or Real-Time Rewards.
Department stores are one of the categories you can earn 5 percent cash back in, and if you’re able to reach the spending maximum each quarter, you could earn $400 in cash back per year. Just make sure you choose your 5 percent and 2 percent categories each quarter. If you don’t choose your categories, all eligible purchases will only earn 1 percent cash back. Also, although quarterly categories tend to stay the same, it’s possible they may change each quarter.
Other card perks worth noting include no annual fee, a $200 rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 120 days of account opening and a 0 percent intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then a 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable APR). Plus, since this is a Visa Signature card, it may also include extended warranty coverage (benefits are subject to change).
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Best for online purchases
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which comes with no annual fee, offers 3 percent cash back on U.S. online retail purchases, U.S. supermarket purchases and U.S. gas station purchases (on up to $6,000 in each category per calendar year, then 1 percent) and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. It also includes a welcome offer in the form of a statement credit, earn up to $250, earn 20% back (up to $150 in statement credits) on purchases with PayPal merchants. Plus, earn $100 as a statement credit after you spend $2,000. Complete both in the first 6 months of card membership.
The online retail category not only includes online purchases made at department stores — it also includes a long list of other online merchants like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Wayfair.com. If you’re able to reach the $6,000 limit, you’ll earn $180 back on your online purchases, plus 1 percent for any spending beyond that limit.
Other shopping benefits include purchase protection, which covers your purchases against theft or accidental damage for up to 90 days from the purchase date, and a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which offers free two-day shipping and free returns at a number of top retailers (including department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman).
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for higher cash back potential
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card allows you to choose which category you’ll earn 3 percent cash back in — you can choose from online shopping (including department stores), gas, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement. You’ll also earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. However, note that 3 and 2 percent category purchases are limited to $2,500 in combined spending each quarter (after that, you’ll earn 1 percent back).
So, why is this card best for cash back potential? If you’re a member of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, you can earn 25 to 75 percent more on all rewards rates. Depending on your tier level, that means you could earn anywhere from 3.75 percent to 5.25 percent on choice category purchases. For example, if you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors member, which earns 5.25 percent back on your choice category, you could earn up to $525 in cash back rewards each year.
This card also comes with no annual fee, a welcome offer of $200 after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening and extended warranty coverage (through Visa Signature; benefits are subject to change).
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card content in this post was last updated on 08/24/2022.
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for flat cash back
The Citi® Double Cash Card is true to its name, offering up to 2 percent cash back on all purchases — 1 percent when you make purchases and another 1 percent as you pay for those purchases. This card also comes with no annual fee, so you won’t have to worry about that cutting into your rewards potential.
Of course, the catch is that you’ll need to pay for your purchases in full and on time to earn 2 percent back. But if you’re able to do that, you’ll get double cash back on what you spend at department stores without having to keep track of bonus categories, rotating categories or earning caps. Because there are no caps, you can purchase appliances, jewelry, housewares and wardrobe essentials at department stores and earn the same great cash back rate on all of those purchases.
However, if the Citi Double Cash Card’s split rewards structure isn’t for you, you may want to consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which offers 2 percent cash rewards on purchases up front.
Is a credit card that earns rewards at department stores right for you?
All of the credit cards on this list are among the best cash back cards currently available. Their value extends far beyond rewards on department store shopping — many of them also offer higher rates of cash back on popular spending categories like groceries, gas, dining and travel. That means they will generally be more valuable and rewarding to you than store credit cards, which tend to offer lower rewards rates and fewer benefits. Plus, many store credit cards can’t be used outside of the store they’re for.
For example, the Nordstrom credit card*, which is popular with Nordstrom customers, only offers 2X points on Nordstrom purchases and 1X points on all other purchases. Then there’s the Target REDcard*, which offers an unlimited 5 percent off on Target purchases, and the TJX Rewards® credit card*, which offers an unlimited 5X points on purchases made at T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, Homegoods and more.
Of course, redemption methods for store cards tend to be more restrictive; you can generally only redeem rewards for store certificates, which tend to expire. Still, if you frequently shop at Target or TJX brands, you may find that their unlimited, boosted rewards structure is more valuable to you than a general cash back credit card.
How to choose a credit card for department stores
When shopping for a store credit card, you’ll want to ask yourself:
- Do you frequently shop at one or two specific department stores? If yes, you’ll want to next consider how much you spend at each store per year. If you spend a significant amount at Target, for example, then saving an unlimited 5 percent off on all purchases would likely be very rewarding for you.
- Do you shop at a variety of department stores? If so, you should consider a flexible cash back card that offers cash back on all department store purchases. Even though many of the cards mentioned above have spending limits, if you’re able to max out the limit each quarter, you should still be able to earn hundreds in cash back each year.
- Do you want to earn rewards on other spending? Beyond earning rewards on department store purchases or online shopping, you should also consider your general spending habits. That said, all of the above cards come with no annual fee. So even if you can’t get much use out of a card’s other categories or benefits, it’ll still provide value for you.
- Are you willing to activate choice categories? If not, you’ll want to choose a card that automatically earns rewards in select bonus categories (like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday) or flat cash back on all purchases (like the Citi Double Cash).
The bottom line
Department store purchases can add up quickly. With careful planning, you’ll be able to earn valuable credit card rewards on all (or most) of your purchases.
However, it’s important to note that it’s becoming harder to find cards that earn rewards on department store purchases since department stores are becoming a less common category as a whole. For example, both the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ used to offer boosted rewards on department store purchases years ago, but the category hasn’t returned for either.
That said, if you prefer to shop at department stores, you might as well take advantage of various card offers while they’re still available so you can save some cash on your purchases.
*The information about the Nordstrom credit card, Target RedCard and TJX Rewards® credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.