Best credit cards for shopping in 2021

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No matter the season, a credit card that earns you rewards for your shopping can lighten the load of your spending. Further, rewards cards for shopping typically offer perks like security and purchase protection in case of loss, damage or theft.

Here’s a look at the best credit cards for online shopping, grocery shopping, purchase protection and department stores so that you can choose the best card for your spending.

Best shopping credit cards

Best for online shopping

Reap rewards: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Rewards:

  • 3 percent cash back in the category of your choice: Gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs ($2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter, then earn 1%)
  • 1 percent back on everything else

Welcome bonus: $200 in online cash rewards after you make $1,000 in purchases during the first 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is Bankrate’s top pick for online shopping as the card delivers one of the most comprehensive categories of its kind. Instead of just the usual Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com rewards, you can earn rewards on a wide range of sites, including specialty merchants like Etsy and Nike.

Besides online shopping, you’ll also earn 3 percent cash back on of six categories of your choice that can be swapped once per month. Keep in mind there’s a $2,500 quarterly cap on the 2 and 3 percent categories combined.

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards doesn’t charge an annual fee, and the $200 cash rewards bonus (earned after you spend $1,000 during your first 90 days of account opening) is pretty significant compared to other mid-tier cash back cards.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card last updated on 05.03.21

Earn as you pay: Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards:

  • Unlimited 1 percent cash back when you buy and an additional 1 percent as you pay for your purchases

Welcome bonus: N/A

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: Need a little help making sure you pay off your online purchases each month? The Citi® Double Cash Card should probably be your pick. For no annual fee, the card earns you an unlimited 1 percent cash back on every purchase no matter what and an additional 1 percent for your purchases when you pay them off each month.

If you already have credit card debt from shopping, the Citi Double Cash can double as a balance transfer card with its 18-month zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers (13.99 percent—23.99 percent variable APR after that). To take advantage of this offer, you must transfer your balance within four months from account opening. (There’s also a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3 percent, whichever is greater).

Seasonal spending: Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back on quarterly rotating bonus category purchases after activation (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1 percent)
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: All cash back earned within the first 12 months will be automatically matched

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: If your online shopping is heavier during the holidays, the Discover it® Cash Back card can rack up 5 percent cash back after activation (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases, then 1 percent) at major online retailers thanks to its quarterly Discover rotating categories.

Its 2021 bonus categories will reward PayPal purchases from Jul. to Sep. and Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com orders from Oct. to Dec. And if you’re a new cardholder, all the cash rewards can you’ve collected during your first year will be matched for essentially double cash back.

But if you already have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, the Chase Freedom Flex® might be a competitive option instead. Introduced last year, the Flex card stacks an unlimited 5 percent flat-rate cash back rate on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and 3 percent back at drugstores and restaurants on top of its 5 percent Chase Freedom rotating categories after activation (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1 percent).

If you’re planning to pool your rewards with another Ultimate Rewards card or your favorite stores’ merchant category codes better align with Chase’s bonus categories, this might the better option for you.

Best grocery shopping

Overall rewards: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards:

  • 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent)
  • 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3 percent back on transit purchases
  • 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1 percent on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Editor’s take: If earning rewards on grocery store purchases is your biggest goal for your credit card, it’s hard to beat the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. For a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year), the card offers a pretty solid reward structure: Earn 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases each year. After you hit that cap, you’ll earn 1 percent back on your purchases.

Should your family spend more than $6,000 a year (or $500 a month) on groceries, you may be better off with a flat-rate grocery store credit card like the next option in our lineup—or upgrading to the American Express® Gold Card if you’re a fan of travel rewards.

Feed the foodie: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards:

  • 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®),
  • 1 percent on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the perfect choice for those who 1) want to earn cash back rewards on grocery store purchases and 2) spend a notable amount on dining out.

The SavorOne offers similar cash back rewards rate as its sister card, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, but without the $95 annual fee. You’ll earn an unlimited 3 percent cash back at grocery stores—perfect for households that prefer a no-hassle rewards structure. You also get 3 percent back on dining and entertainment, like eating at restaurants, ordering fast food and seeing a movie.

Best for purchase protections

Everyday spenders: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3 percent cash back at restaurants
  • 3 percent cash back at drugstores
  • 1.5 percent cash back on all other purchases
  • Limited time offer: 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides (through Mar. 2022)

Welcome bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the best cash back credit cards on the market, but in terms of shopping, you’ll get great use out of the card’s purchase protection.

Purchases made with your card are covered against damage, loss or theft for the first 120 days. You’re protected for up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. To qualify for the protection, you must notify Chase within 90 days of the incident; for stolen items, it’s required that you file a police report within 48 hours of the theft.

Chase also extends the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by one extra year on eligible purchases made with your card. The original warranty must be three years or less, and your coverage extends up to $10,000 per claim and a maximum or $50,000 per account.

Globetrotters with a shopping habit: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rewards:

  • 3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Limited time offer: 3X points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month, then 1percent (until Apr. 30, 2021), including eligible pickup and delivery services
  • Limited time offer: 10X points on Lyft rides (through Mar. 2022)

Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening (equal to $900 when redeemed for travel)

Annual fee: $550 annual fee

Editor’s take: If you’re already in the market for a luxury travel credit card, but also seek first-rate purchase protections, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is worth looking at. Similar to the Freedom Unlimited, the Sapphire Reserve covers purchases made with the card for the first 120 days in case of loss, damage or theft.

Return protection, however, is unique to the Sapphire Reserve. If you make a purchase with your card that—within 90 days—isn’t available for return, Chase will cover you for up to $500 per item and $1,000 per year.

And now, the Sapphire Reserve also earns you 3X points on grocery shopping on up to $1,000 per month through April 2021. Grocery rewards are also worth 50 percent more when redeemed for statement credits during this offer period thanks to the Pay Yourself Back feature. Your grocery and gas expenses can be covered by the annual $300 credit (normally reserved for travel purchases) until June 30, 2021.

Best for department stores

Rotating categories: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter (choose two categories from 12)
  • Unlimited 2 percent cash back on either gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants
  • 1 percent cash back on all other eligible net purchases

Welcome bonus: $150 bonus after you apply online and spend $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: If you spend a significant portion of your monthly budget on department store purchases, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card can help you earn cash back rewards without the limitations of a store credit card.

The card allows you to select department stores as a category to earn 5 percent cash back in, and you can repeatedly do so each quarter. The department store category includes well-known sellers like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and more.

Seeing as you can choose two categories to earn 5 percent cash back in (on up to $2,000 in combined purchases, then 1 percent), you might also consider electing “select clothing stores” as a category. This includes brands like GAP, J.Crew and American Eagle Outfitters.

Unlimited spending: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards:

  • 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases annually, then 1 percent)
  • 2 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1 percent on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take: If you can easily spend more than $2,000 every three months on department store purchases, you may consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express over the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa.

With the Blue Cash Everyday, you’ll earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back for spending at select U.S. department stores. That means there’s no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn (and for no annual fee).

The information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.