The 9 Best Credit Cards for Shopping at Department Stores [2021]

Department store

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In the U.S., there are thousands of department stores. Even though that number is decreasing every year with the advent of e-commerce, department stores are one of the main ways consumers can physically walk into a store to try on clothing.

It’s impossible to tell how department stores will fare long-term. But one thing is for sure — department stores will likely never go totally extinct. Instead, the traditional retail shopping experience may evolve over time to a more experiential business model.

Whenever you go shopping at a department store, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best credit cards for your needs. And with tons of different store credit cards out there, it’s hard to figure out what the best choices are.

That’s why we’ll be walking you through what you should be looking for in a credit card for department store shopping. We’ll also show you the best personal credit cards for department stores, followed by the best business credit cards for department stores.

Let’s get started!

What To Look for in a Credit Card for Department Stores

Department store credit cards or store credit cards, like those issued by Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank, are an incredibly siloed bucket of financial products. In most cases, store credit cards are operated under a closed-loop system, which basically means you can’t use the card outside of the store.

For example, the Kohl’s Charge Card can only be used at Kohl’s locations — it can’t be used to pay for other transactions like dinner at a restaurant or gas at a local station.

Also, most department store credit cards offer egregiously high-interest rates that make opening one up a very risky endeavor.

And lastly, department store credit cards usually have terrible rewards and sign-up bonuses. For example, you might only get a 1-time $10 off discount for your store purchase, which pales in comparison to $1,000+ welcome bonuses on the top rewards credit cards out there.

That’s why we have, for the most part, totally avoided store credit cards in this guide. Instead, we’re focusing on the top credit cards that offer the best rewards on department store purchases in general.

Now that we’ve explained our logic, let’s get into the best personal credit cards for department stores.

Best Personal Credit Cards for Department Stores

Bloomingdales stylist
The best credit card to use at Bloomingdale’s may not be the store card itself! Image Credit: Bloomingdale’s

1. U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The best credit card for department store purchases is also one of the most surprising ones, at least in the landscape of points and rewards.

With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Signature card, you will earn 5% cash-back on 2 categories you choose for the first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter, 2% cash-back on 1 everyday category, and 1% cash-back elsewhere. You’ll also enjoy a nice welcome bonus and some ordinary credit card perks.

And while the list of 5% cash-back categories can change a bit over time, they are generally pretty consistent:

One of the important caveats here is that Walmart, Target, and Costco do not qualify.

There’s a $25 minimum for statement credits and deposits. There’s also a $10 minimum for Real-Time Rewards.

The biggest benefit is that you can earn 5% cash-back at all department stores — no need to stick to a single chain of stores like Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s.

Other benefits of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Signature card include an introductory 0% APR benefit on balance transfers (purchases and cash advances do not count), zero fraud liability protection, and no annual fee.

2. Citi® Double Cash Card

The Double Cash card is one of our favorite credit cards because of its ability to earn 2% cash-back (1% at purchase and 1% when you pay). Normally, earning 2% cash-back is nothing out of the ordinary.

But the Double Cash card has the potential to convert your cash-back into transferable rewards points for luxury travel, which can drastically increase the return on spending that you’d get.

The main drawback of this credit card is that it doesn’t usually offer a welcome bonus — you will, however, find an introductory 0% APR benefit.

This card offers flexible pay dates, zero liability for unauthorized purchases, fraud protection, a 1-time late fee pass, and access to Citi Private Pass for event tickets.

With no annual fee, it’s easy to see why this card is incredibly appealing. But what we haven’t talked about in great detail is what happens when you convert your cash-back rewards to transferable points.

Why We Like Earning Citi ThankYou Rewards Points

If you hold the Double Cash card by itself, you can convert your rewards to Citi ThankYou Points, but the ways you can use those points are incredibly limited.

However, if you hold the Double Cash card and a ThankYou Rewards credit card like the Citi Premier℠ Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, you can actually convert your cash-back to transferable points and access a huge list of transfer partners.

Specifically, every 1% cash-back you earn is equal to 1x ThankYou Points, which means earning 2% cash-back equals earning 2x ThankYou Points. That’s a 3.2% return on spend! And the benefits don’t end there because by leveraging transfer partners, you can redeem your Citi ThankYou Points for some incredible value via flights like Emirates and Etihad first class.

3. Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

The Freedom Unlimited card is actually our #1 recommended personal credit card for everyday purchases.

That’s because the ability to earn at least 1.5% cash-back on all purchases is noteworthy.

The card will earn you up to 5% cash-back in the following earning structure:

  • 5% cash-back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • 3% cash-back on dining purchases
  • 3% cash-back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash-back on all other purchases

The story gets even better here because if you have an Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can convert cash-back into Ultimate Rewards points. 

You’ll convert your cash-back to Ultimate Rewards points at a 1%-to-1x ratio. That means your 5%, 3%, and 1.5% cash-back can be converted to 5x, 3x, and 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points — doubling your return on spending for department stores to 3%!

Currently, this credit card comes with a great welcome bonus to add to your rewards. Also, there’s a 0% introductory APR period that you might find useful in reducing your interest payments.

The other benefits of the Freedom Unlimited card include secondary auto rental collision damage coverage, purchase protection, extended warranty, zero liability protection, fraud protection, and more.

This card has no annual fee.

Why We Like Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

With the Freedom Unlimited card alone, you can’t redeem your rewards for outsized value. You can get cash-back, gift cards, and book travel via the Chase travel portal. You can also redeem your rewards for Shop at Amazon.

But once you have an Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can convert your cash-back to Ultimate Rewards points that can then be transferred to travel partners for luxury business and first class travel.

4. Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card

The Rakuten Cash Back card is issued by Synchrony Bank, and it’s one of our top personal credit cards for department store purchases.

Rakuten is a Japanese e-commerce network that allows you to get even more cash-back at over 2,500 store brands, including Macy’s, Sears, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and much more.

In addition, shopping at Rakuten can help you save a bunch of money on online purchases you’d be making anyway. And the Rakuten Cash Back card can help you stack your rewards to maximize your cash-back.

With this credit card, you’ll earn a first purchase bonus that will help you reduce the cost of your first purchase using the Rakuten Cash Back card.

And on an ongoing basis, you’ll earn 3% cash-back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com, In-Store Cash Back, Rakuten Dining, and the Rakuten Gift Card Shop. Everywhere else, you’ll earn 1% cash-back. There are no caps on cash-back earnings.

For example, if you visit Rakuten.com and find a 6% cash-back offer for JCPenney, you can use your Rakuten Cash Back card to add another 3% cash-back, for a total of 9% cash-back on JCPenney!

Also, the Rakuten Cash Back card offers zero fraud liability, purchase protection, price protection, return protection, and more.

This card has no annual fee.

Bottom Line: When shopping at your favorite stores, accelerate your cash-back earnings by using your Rakuten Cash Back card to purchase via the Rakuten shopping portal.

5. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

The CapOne Venture card is one of the best rewards credit cards for everyday purchases out there.

Capital One is famous for offering intuitive cash-back rewards. But the bank has also expanded to offer transferable rewards, which is great news for those interested in booking luxury travel.

With a huge welcome bonus to start, you’ll also notice that the CapOne Venture card earns an unlimited 2x Capital One miles on all purchases, regardless of bonus categories.

Whether you’re shopping at Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, or McDonald’s, you’ll get 2x Capital One miles.

The CapOne Venture card comes with a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, in addition to other travel perks like secondary rental car coverage, lost luggage insurance, roadside dispatch, travel accident insurance, and travel assistance services.

This credit card also has purchase security, extended warranty, zero fraud liability, and access to the Capital One Miles landscape.

The annual fee is a low $95, and you won’t be paying for any foreign transaction fees.

Why We Like Earning Capital One Miles

Capital One Miles is the name of Capital One’s transferable rewards program, and the miles you redeem are called Capital One miles.

In the past, you could only redeem Capital One miles on travel booked via Capital One Travel or for statement credits, gift cards, experiences, or merchandise.

Today, however, Capital One has expanded the ways you can redeem Capital One miles. Now, you can get exceptional value from Capital One miles by transferring your miles to travel partners to book flights like Singapore Airlines first class and Qatar Airways QSuites.

Your transfer ratios will typically be 2:1.5 or 2:1, which is why our valuation of Capital One miles is lower than other competitors like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards points.

Your 2x Capital One miles earned from the CapOne Venture card are equivalent to a 2.7% return on spending.

Best Business Credit Cards for Department Stores

Nordstrom Local Gift Wrapping
When buying corporate gifts, you want a business credit card that delivers the most value. Image Credit: Nordstrom

Every business is built differently. If you routinely make trips to department stores for business purposes, such as shopping for client gifts, then you’ll want to make sure that you have the best business credit card available.

So in this next section, we’ll walk you through our favorite business credit cards for department store purchases.

1. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Amex Blue Business Plus card is the best business credit card for department store purchases. With this card, you can earn plenty of transferable rewards without shelling out an annual fee. In a world of premium credit cards, this is getting increasingly rare, so don’t take it for granted!

Earn 2x Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year on everyday business purchases. After that, the Amex Blue Business Plus card earns 1x Membership Rewards points.

And although this card doesn’t come with a welcome bonus, you’ll notice that there’s a 0% introductory APR benefit on purchases.

This credit card also offers free employee cards, purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and access to the world-famous Membership Rewards program.

Why We Like Earning Amex Membership Rewards Points

Amex Membership Rewards points are the most valuable transferable points available, and the Amex Blue Business Plus card offers the ability to earn these points without an annual fee.

Earning 2x Amex points is equivalent to an approximate return on spend of 4.4%!

Sure, you can use Amex points for statement credits, gift cards, travel booked via Amex Travel, and on Amazon purchases, but these redemptions yield some pretty lackluster value.

The best way to use Amex points, as you can imagine, is to transfer them to airline and hotel partners for luxury travel bookings. That way, you’ll really maximize the value of the points you earn.

2. Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

The Ink Business Unlimited card is the runner-up in our best business credit cards for department store spending. This credit card earns a flat 1.5% cash-back on your business purchases without any caps.

Also, the card boasts a 0% introductory APR benefit, free employee cards, zero liability fraud protection, purchase protection, extended warranty, and even primary rental car coverage!

The Ink Business Unlimited card doesn’t earn transferable points by itself — however, if you have an Ultimate Rewards card like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can convert your 1.5% cash-back to 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points.

That would net you a return on spend of 3%, which is awesome!

3. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

The CapOne Spark Miles card is Capital One’s premium business credit card. Earning an unlimited 2x Capital One miles on every purchase, this card draws plenty of comparisons to the CapOne Venture card.

This card offers a welcome bonus, as well as the ability to earn 5x Capital One miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel.

So your return on spending with 5x or 2x miles would either be ~6.75% or ~2.7% — for department store spending, you’ll earn a 2.7% return.

With this card, you can get a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, as well as employee cards for no additional fee, roadside assistance, purchase protection, extended warranty, zero fraud liability, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Our last business credit card option for department store spending is the Amex Blue Business Cash card. This card will help you earn cash-back rewards on your business purchases, department stores included.

To be specific, the Amex Blue Business Cash card earns 2% cash-back on all eligible purchases of up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% thereafter.

All of your cash-back gets credited automatically to your balance on every billing statement, so this card offers a headache-free way to earn cash-back for your business!

You’ll also notice that you can access a 0% introductory APR benefit on purchases. After the introductory period, regular APR – as shown in the table above – applies.

Other crucial benefits include purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, secondary car rental insurance, baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to picking the best credit cards for your department store spending, you have a lot of options.

The list of store credit cards is dizzying — but luckily, most of the credit cards associated with a specific store like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Belk aren’t worthwhile credit cards to hold in the long run.

Between the mediocre rewards, high purchase APRs, lack of customer service, and restrictiveness of closed-loop credit card systems, it’s easy to see why we don’t recommend most store credit cards.

Instead, our favorite personal credit cards for department store purchases include the U.S. Bank Cash+ Signature card, Double Cash card, Freedom Unlimited card, Rakuten Cash Back card, and CapOne Venture card.

Conversely, our favorite business credit cards for department store purchases include the Amex Blue Business Plus card, the Ink Business Unlimited card, the CapOne Spark Miles card, and the Amex Blue Business Cash card.


The information regarding U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, Citi Premier℠ Card, Citi Prestige® Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

Which department store has the best credit card?

There are tons of department store credit cards. While you might think cards from stores like JCPenney and Bealls might be worthwhile, the reality is that these cards don’t offer great rewards. Plus, their interest rates are extremely high.

Instead, check out some of our favorite card picks like the U.S. Bank Cash+ Signature card, the Citi Double Cash card, the Freedom Unlimited card, the Rakuten Cash Back card, and the CapOne Venture card.

If you make a lot of business purchases at department stores, you’ll find the Amex Blue Business Plus card, Ink Business Unlimited card, CapOne Spark Miles card, and the Amex Blue Business Cash cards to be incredibly rewarding, especially compared to store credit cards.

Do department store credit cards hurt your credit?

When you first apply for them, yes. You’ll see a small drop of around 3 to 5 points. However, after a few months of using the card and making on-time payments, your score will increase. This is true of almost all credit cards.

What is the easiest department store credit card to get?

In general, department store credit cards are easy to get because they tend to offer very low credit limits and are closed-loop, meaning you can only use that credit card in the specific department store.

Some of the easiest cards to get include the Target RedCard™, Walmart Rewards™ Card, Kohl’s Charge Card, Fingerhut Credit Account, and the Amazon Prime Store Card.

What do I need to get a department store credit card?

You need to have a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). You must also fill out an application to get approved.

Where can I get a department store credit card with bad credit?

Many of the easiest credit cards for bad credit are issued by Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank, so it’s a good idea to start there.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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