Department Stores are a popular option for buying clothing, jewelry, shoes, and household goods to name a few. This post is meant to spotlight cards that can be used at department stores. There is not much on the internet about this category as department stores are not a common category.
Designated Bonus Category Cards
There are only two cards that have Department Stores as a designated category. Both are from American Express, giving them a virtual monopoly over the category.
Store cards are not included, and I will explain why at the end of the post.
American Express Blue Cash Everyday
The Blue Cash Everyday card earns 2% on department store purchases as well as 3% at US Grocery Stores and 2% at US Gas Stations. It is a great downgrade option for the Blue Cash Preferred. It’s also great for those who want cash back and don’t spend heavily at the grocery store.
The Chase Freedom offers 5x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on rotating quarterly categories. Department stores are sometimes offered as a category. But this card rewards you handsomely when it is. The Chase Freedom is also part of the Chase “ecosystem”. This means that points earned can be transferred if you have a Chase Sapphire card or Ink Preferred card.
Bonus Categories for Gift Card Purchases
These cards don’t have department stores as a designated category. But you can use them to buy department store gift cards at elevated rates. This “hack” is a great way to save money and earn points at department stores.
Chase Ink Business Cash
This no-annual fee Chase business card earns 5x UR points at Office Supply Stores. These stores also sell gift cards that you can buy at the elevated rate. You also receive 5x points for internet, phone, and TV services. The Ink Business Cash also earns 2x points at Gas Stations (including Costco) and Dining.
Like the Chase Freedom, this card is part of the Chase “ecosystem”. People who want to earn UR points will be hard-pressed to find a card with such a big earning potential.
American Express Gold Card
American Express’ golden charge card earns 4x Membership Rewards (MR) points on US Restaurants and US Grocery Stores. The latter category also sells department store gift cards that you can buy at the higher rate.
This card has a $250 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). It also offers over $200 in dining and airline credits each year. Those credits can help to justify the annual fee if you can use them.
American Express Everyday Preferred
This alternative to the Gold Card is a good one for those who use their card every day (no pun intended). It has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year), which is $155 less than the Gold Card.
The Everyday Preferred earns 3x MR points at US Grocery Stores and 2x points at US Gas Stations. This card also has a 50% points bonus if you use it at least 30 times per month. You can earn 4.5x points at Grocery Stores and 3x points at Gas Stations with enough monthly uses.
Purchasing department store gift cards is a great way to increase your number of monthly transactions and earn MR points. This card is also a great alternative to the Gold card you can’t use the latter’s benefits.
There are a handful of cards that offer a Department Store category. But there are more cards that offer increased earnings at stores that sell gift cards.
I strongly do not recommend applying for most store credit cards. These cards often have a deal that you can receive upon approval. For example, Macy’s offers a 20% discount on merchandise up to $100. But oftentimes, these cards have low limits, high interest rates, and limited rewards. You can do much better elsewhere, especially if you plan to use your rewards for travel.