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Best credit cards for families of 2019 from our partners

Last Updated, August 20, 2019

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers from our partners. How we make money.

No matter the size, shape or composition of your family, one thing is the same across the board: Families spend money. 

And, since all families spend money, we wanted to create a "Best credit cards for families" list to help you maximize that money you're going to be spending anyway. What if the money you spend on groceries could earn you cash back to put in a rainy day fund? Or your fill-ups at the gas station during all those carpool trips could earn you points toward your next family (or solo) getaway? What if you could transfer those wedding charges to a card with an introductory 0% APR card that would allow you to pay off the balance without accruing interest? Maybe you want to pool points with some neighbors so you can make a donation to a local school. 

BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR A FAMILY

Those are just a few of the ways a credit card could fit into your family's financial plans. And, while all families do spend money, they certainly don't all spend it in the same way. With that in mind, we've separated our list into a number of categories so you can search for a card that fits into your budget and meets your unique needs. 

BEST OVERALL CASH BACK | BEST GENERAL TRAVEL | BEST FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL |
BEST FOR NEWLYWEDS | BEST FOR GROCERIES/FAMILY DINNERS | BEST FOR PARENTS-TO-BE

So settle in with a good idea of your monthly budget and your rewards dreams and take a look at our top credit cards for families:

BEST OVERALL CASH-BACK REWARDS

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

Why We Like It: Your budget month-to-month probably follows a general pattern, but there are certainly times when you know you'll be spending more in a particular area. That's why we love a card that allows each cardholder to decide where they'll earn top rewards in a given month (from among a list of six categories) and, in this case, "top rewards" means a nice 3% cash back (or even more if you're a Preferred Rewards client!)

The Bonus:  Earn a $200 online cash bonus after you use your card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back in a category of your choosing from the following list: gas (the default category), online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. Earn 2% cash back on your grocery store and wholesale club purchases (3% and 2% back is on the first $2,500 spent in your choice category/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%). Earn 1% on all your other purchases. If you're a Preferred Rewards client with Bank of America, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on each purchase depending on your tier (Preferred Rewards tiers are based on your average three-month balance across eligible accounts). Read our full review of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why We Like It: There's so much to think about when it comes to keeping up with a family; that's why we appreciate a card with a flat earning rate. No matter where you shop or what you buy, you'll earn a flat amount of cash back on all your purchases. Plus, that cash back accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which can be redeemed for a variety of travel purchases and more in addition to the standard cash back.

The Bonus: Earn 3% cash back on the first $20,000 you spend during your first 12 months as a cardholder. After that, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Cash back accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards®, so the rewards can technically be redeemed for cash back, travel and more. Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Why We Like It: It's a simple credit card for the cardholder who doesn't want to keep track of rotating categories. And if you are carrying a load of debt on another card, you should take note of the 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then, 15.99% – 25.99% (Variable)). And this card offers you an incentive to pay your balance off, which is certainly a nice feature. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser

The Bonus: None, but if you are transferring money from an existing card to this one, you may appreciate the 0% introductory balance transfer APR for 18 months (then, 15.99% – 25.99% (Variable)). That said, be aware of the balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

The Rewards: You'll receive 1% cash back on everything you buy and 1% cash back when you pay for the purchases. So every purchase you make, you'll ultimately get cash back twice. Just make sure you are paying everything off every month. Read our full review of the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS FOR FAMILIES

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: This is a great card with really good benefits when it comes to the family that likes to travel. From a simple rewards earning and redemption structure to a reasonable annual fee, this card is a simple one to keep in your wallet.

The Bonus: 50,000 miles – worth $500 in travel – when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of your card being approved.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on everything. Plus, you'll get 10 miles per $1 on hotel rooms that are booked and paid for through hotels.com/venture. Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why We Like It: If you love family vacations, this is a card that can get you from here to there; plus, the bonus to get you started toward your next trip is pretty sweet.

The Bonus: You earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account. If you redeem those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, they're worth $750. Plus, Chase offers a number of hotel and airline travel loyalty partners, so you might be able to stretch that bonus even further.

The Rewards: Earn double points on traveling and dining at restaurants around the globe and one point per $1 on anything else you spend money on. Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

The Annual Fee: $95

Credit needed: Excellent, Good

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Why We Like It: It has generous rewards that come with it. It's also very good for families who vacation a lot or those who have come to think of the gas station as a second home between one school activity and another.

The Bonus: You can earn 30,000 Go Far® Rewards points after spending $3,000 during the first three months – that's a $300 cash back value.

The Rewards: You collect three times the points for eating out and ordering in – as well as three points per $1 spent at gas stations, on rideshares and on transit. AND, you also get three points for travel purchases including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals as well as on popular streaming services. Everything else? One point per $1 spent. Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PRO TIP:

One thing that is especially interesting about the Go Far® Rewards program is the myriad ways you can redeem your points. There are the standard travel and cash back options, sure, but you can also get cash back directly from a Wells Fargo ATM or pool your points with friends, family and/or neighbors to fund a donation to a charity. You can also redeem points to pay for any purchase on your statement starting at just 100 points for a $1 purchase. Want to know more about Go Far® Rewards? Check out our Guide to the Wells Fargo Go Far® Rewards Program.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Why We Like It: So. much. luggage. That’s the standard wail of traveling families and it gets even louder when you have to pay for your checked bags. Enter Southwest Airlines, where your first two checked bags are always free. Plus, these days it’s common for airlines to charge you if you want to pick your seats. Few families want to risk being spread out all over the plane, so you’ll pay that fee, too. Not a problem with Southwest®. You get to choose your seat when you board so, in most cases, you’ll be able to sit together without paying extra.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases within your first three months as a cardholder.

The Rewards: Earn two points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases as well as on purchases with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn one point per $1 on everything else. Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card review.

The Annual Fee: $99

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

BEST BACK-TO-SCHOOL CREDIT CARDS

Chase Freedom®

Why We Like It: The opportunity to earn as much as 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly is certainly appealing. And this card could also come in handy if you have a lot of back-to-school spending and don't feel like you can pay for it all within the month. New cardholders get a 0% intro APR on purchases (and balance transfers, balance transfer fee applies) for 15 months (then, 17.24% - 25.99% Variable).

The Bonus: $150 – with not many hoops. All you have to do is spend $500 within the first three months of opening the account.

The Rewards: In categories that rotate each quarter, you'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in those categories (you must enroll quarterly to qualify). One quarter might be gas stations; another quarter, groceries; another quarter, holiday shopping. Read our full Chase Freedom® review.

Recently, Chase has also named things like Paypal purchases or purchases made via Chase Pay® as the bonus categories, which certainly broadens the items you can purchase and earn 5% on. Check out the Chase Freedom® bonus categories for this quarter.

Once you hit the quarterly spending cap, as well as on all your non-bonus category purchases, you'll earn 1% cash back.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Discover it® Cash Back

Why We Like It: This is another rotating categories card that offers a solid intro 0% period (14 months for purchases and balance transfers (balance transfer fee applies), then 14.24% - 25.24% Variable), but the unique bonus opportunity sets this card apart. Furthermore, a few years ago, Discover began announcing a year's worth of quarterly bonus categories at the start of the year, making it much easier for you to plan your spending so that you can take full advantage of the top bonus amounts. 

The Bonus: Discover will MATCH all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder. Earn $200 in cash back, and Discover will match it at the end of your first year, meaning that you will have effectively earned $400 back during that first year. 

The Rewards: Once again, in categories that rotate quarterly you'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases (you must enroll quarterly to take advantage). After you hit the cap, and on all your other purchases, you earn 1% back. As we mentioned, Discover has been announcing a full year's worth of categories at the start of the year lately, so we know what all of 2019 will bring: January-March grocery stores; April-June 2019: gas stations, Uber and Lyft; July-September 2019: Restaurants and PayPal; October-December: Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com. Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR NEWLYWEDS

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: Flat-rate cash-back rewards cards are great for the "I just want to earn but don't want to think about it" crowd. This particular card also happens to be good for anyone who wants that mindset while traveling abroad as it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees – a relatively rare feature among cash-back credit cards, especially one with no annual fee.

Bonus: Jump start your cash back earning with a $150 bonus after spending just $500 on purchases during the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases without worrying about categories or spending caps. Plus, if you're looking for a 0% intro offer, this card has you covered with an introductory 15 months no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)). Read our full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Why We Like It: Hello, wedding and honeymoon debt. If you're looking to pay off that debt and save on interest, a balance transfer credit card like this one could be just the ticket. You'll be almost ready to celebrate your second anniversary by the time this intro 0% APR period on balance transfers ends at 21 months (then, 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)). Plus, there's a nice 12-month introductory 0% period on purchases as well (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser).

The Bonus: While this card doesn't offer a traditional bonus, you should think about the money you're saving on interest as a type of bonus.

The Rewards: Once again, there aren't rewards to talk about, but you can consider the interest savings, plus the opportunity to build a solid credit history, as a form of rewards. Read our full Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever review.

The Annual Fee: $0*

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Why We Like It: This is a solid rewards credit card, but we also appreciate that if you pay your cellular bill with your card, you'll get up to $600 of protection on your cell phone (with a $25 deductible). If you're like most newlyweds, any little opportunity to save some money is worth exploring.

The Bonus: $150 if you spend $500 on purchases during the first three months of opening the account.

The Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Additionally, earn 1.8% cash back on qualified digital wallet purchases, such as those with Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening. Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST FOR CREDIT CARDS FOR GROCERIES AND FAMILY DINNERS

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: The cash-back rewards are robust, but this type of card is perfect for the family who just want to get rewards and not think about rotating categories. You just get the cash back, and it won't expire for the life of the account, and maybe best of all, you can earn as much cash back as you want. There is no cap.

The Bonus: Earn $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.

The Rewards: You earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. Plus, through May 2020, you earn 8% cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats. Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why We Like It: The rewards aren't complicated but they are lucrative, particularly if you're into family movie nights complete with homemade pizza and snacks. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser

The Welcome Offer: Earn a $250 statement credit when you spend $1,000 on purchases with your new card during the first three months of card membership. Terms apply

The Rewards: There's a hefty 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases and then 1%) as well as on select streaming services. You also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, which includes taxis/rideshares, parking, buses, tolls, trains and more. Lastly, you receive 1% cash back for all other purchases. Terms apply. Read our full Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.

The Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Why We Like It: Look, if you're a Costco member, and you're always buying your family a million cases of toilet paper, paper towels and milk, what's not to like? And you'll still get cash back when you use your card anywhere else (hence the "anywhere" in the card's name). If you can take Costco or leave it, then, of course, this probably isn't the card for you.

The Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus with this card, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a look. If the ongoing rewards fit your lifestyle, that's actually much more important than a big initial bonus.

The Rewards: You get 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases up to the first $7,000 spent each year (then, 1%). You receive 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com and 1% cash back on all your other purchases. Your rewards will accumulate throughout the year and you'll receive an award certificate once each year with your rewards for that year. Read our full Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.

The Annual Fee: $0* (but you do have to pay your Costco membership fee).

Credit needed: Excellent


BEST FOR NEW PARENTS

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Why We Like It: Don't panic about the cost of raising a child – instead, open a credit card with cash-back rewards that are redeemed into eligible accounts like 529 College Savings accounts, 401k accounts or another eligible savings account.

The Bonus: Earn a $100 bonus after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days.

The Rewards: Earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all your purchases. Rewards can be redeemed as deposits into eligible Fidelity accounts. Read our full Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card review.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent


HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CREDIT CARD FOR YOUR FAMILY

You have a lot to think about when it comes to caring for your family regardless of whether "family" means you and your favorite pup, you and your partner, you and your children or whatever other beautiful form your family takes. While we can't tell you exactly which card is best for your given situation, we can give you some standard steps to determine that best card for yourself.

  1. Know your credit score and history. Credit cards really aren't something you should just apply for a on a whim. Instead, you should take the time to know your credit score and financial situation and then narrow down the card options from there. If you have excellent credit, a steady income and a solid history with credit cards, you're going to have a bunch of cards to choose from that offer a high likelihood of approval.

    If, on the other hand, you're building/rebuilding your credit or are perhaps just starting to have a steady income, your options may be a bit more limited. Take the time to know your credit history rather than just crossing your fingers and hoping a bank won't look at your credit score – applying for cards for which you have a low likelihood of approval will only damage your credit.

  2. Understand your monthly budget and your own money tendencies. A healthy credit card strategy should consider the card a portion of your existing budget rather than a way to extend what you have. In other words, you won't suddenly have more money when you open a credit card. Use your credit card wisely and the rewards could certainly put a little money back in your wallet, but if you over spend and can't pay the bill in full each month, the interest charges will eat up any rewards you earned. Always spend within your budget and your means.

  3. Consider your goals for your rewards. Are you wanting to put some cash back aside for a rainy day? Is your goal to cover the cost of your family's plane tickets for a great vacation or two each year? Do you want to save up for some long-term goals, like paying for college? Think about the rewards that you'll actually put to use and don't let a flashy welcome offer draw you into a card that offers a rewards program you won't use long term.

  4. Look at the fees. Make sure you understand the fees and charges of a card. In particular, determine whether the rewards or extra perks of a card are enough to more than offset any annual fee. you don't want to just break even (that's no fun); you want to know that you paid a $95 fee, but you redeemed rewards and perks worth more than $1,000 (just as a for instance).

BEST PRACTICES FOR USING A REWARDS CREDIT CARD

Even if you know all of this, consider these tips something you can pass onto your kids:

Pay the balance off every month. Otherwise, the interest will wipe out the rewards you're getting.

Don't spend things that you don't really want, just to get the rewards. It's the same principle when you're, say, coupon shopping. You have a great coupon for $3 off of almond milk. So you use it. And then as you're drinking it, you remember, "Hey, I hate almond milk." Earning credit card rewards, or using a coupon, only makes sense and is a good deal if you want or need what you're buying.

Avoid cash advances. The interest on them is just crazy high. If it's an emergency, then, sure, the cash is nice to have. But if it's not an emergency, the interest (which starts accruing immediately) will almost certainly wipe out your rewards, and it's just not a great idea. Plus, you typically won't earn rewards on cash advances or on balance transfers, for that matter. 

Be conscious of foreign transaction fees. If you have a rewards card, and you're saving a lot of money, you may not be saving much if you're using the card overseas on a trip and paying 3% extra on everything. If you're traveling a lot, it's best to use a credit card that doesn't have a foreign transaction fee. None of the travel rewards cards mentioned above charge foreign transaction fees.

Be conscious of all fees. Look, rewards are all about saving money, and any fee – whether a late fee or an annual fee – can wipe out those goals. Now, many cards with annual fees are there because the credit card issuer assumes you're going to use the credit card a lot, and you'll save far more than you spend on an annual fee. And that's fine logic - if you do use your credit card a lot. In any case, when you pay for anything with a rewards credit card, make sure you're also paying attention.


SHOULD YOU ADD YOUR CHILDREN AS AUTHORIZED USERS ON YOUR CREDIT CARD?

It's definitely worth considering. If your kid is going off to Washington, D.C., on an eighth grade field trip or off to Disney World with the marching band, for instance, you may want him or her to have a credit card, just in case. Maybe your kid is going off to college. As you may know, your son or daughter can't get their own credit card until they're 21 (if they're younger and can prove that they have income, such as from a part-time job, they may be able to get a card).

So how young can your kid be, to be an authorized user? That depends on your credit card issuer. You'll want to check with them. For instance, while American Express requires authorized users to be at least 13 years of age, Bank of America, Capital One nor any of the other major banks have minimum age requirements (at least as of this writing), so if you want your 5-year-old to have access to your credit card… well, have fun.

Why would you want your child to be an authorized user for your credit card? Well, you probably don't want your 5-year-old anywhere near your credit card, but as your kid gets older and becomes more independent, and travels places without you, you may want him or her to have that access. Maybe. There are a few pros and cons you'll want to mull over.

PROS OF ADDING CHILDREN AS AUTHORIZED USERS

A credit card can be a good tool to teach your kid financial responsibility. After all, you're on a budget. You're not going to let your kid max you out. Surely, your teen will learn something from being an authorized user.

Your college student will start building a credit history early. Yes, even as an authorized user. Your kid won't build credit fast, but your daughter isn't about to buy a house yet, right? She still has college, or maybe even high school, to finish. One thing to note is that not all banks report authorized users' information to the credit bureaus, so it's possible your child may not see any credit history impact from being added.

It may make your kid safer. Of course, you could get your kid a prepaid debit card or let him or her stuff some money in their shoe. We aren't saying that you're a terrible parent if you don't make him or her an authorized user, but if your kid is traveling without you, it may make things easier if they can use your credit card. Furthermore, if your child has some forgetful tendencies, your money is actually safer on a credit card than as a wad of cash in a wallet that could be left behind somewhere. 

DRAWBACKS OF ADDING CHILDREN AS AUTHORIZED USERS

It's a big financial responsibility. Is your kid ready. Are you? Maybe your teen will max you out. Not every teenager or even young adult is ready for a credit card. Remember, their spending on your credit is, for all intents and purposes, your spending on a credit card. It will be your credit that takes the hit if they run up a massive balance you can't afford to pay.

Credit cards can be windows to ID theft and fraud. What we said above is true: It's safer to carry a credit card than to carry around cash. If your cash is lost or stolen, it's most likely just gone; if your credit card is lost or stolen, federal law protects your from being on the hook for the fraudulent charges. However, it's still no fun to jump through the hoops of canceling a card, sorting out the fraudulent from the appropriate charges, changing out any recurring payment information you have. If your kid isn't likely to treat your card like real money, it probably isn't quite time to make them an authorized user.

SHOULD YOU CO-SIGN A CREDIT CARD FOR YOUR KIDS?

Maybe. If your kid is a RESPONSIBLE college student, it might make sense. There are a lot of good credit cards for college students and graduate students, ones that offer rewards and even ones that try to encourage good spending habits.

That said, if you're leery about the idea, especially because you think your kid is a financial disaster waiting to happen, that may be an argument for making them an authorized user instead. You'll be liable for your kid's spending either way, but you're more likely to be aware of what's happening if the overspending and money mismanagement is on your credit card and not theirs.


For rates and fees of American Express cards mentioned in this article, please see the following links: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees)

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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