Best Credit Cards for Families: Parents, Young Parents and Single Parents

Single, married, one child, or five? It’s time to meet your match. Here are the best credit cards for families.

Best Credit Cards for Families

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Everything in life tends to change once you have kids, doesn’t it? Gone are the days of apartments downtown, lazy weekends, and fun cars. Instead, we trade it all for a house in the suburbs, Saturday morning soccer, and minivans. Even our credit card needs change when we start a family, meaning that the card you’ve always carried might not suit your needs anymore.

Depending on your family dynamics, there are certain credit cards that are a better choice than others. By picking the right card for your household, you can earn more rewards, save money, and take advantage of great benefits along the way.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things you should consider when choosing a new credit card for your family, and which cards should be at the top of your list.

Considerations Before You Choose

When sifting through card options to find the best one for your household, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself.

Where do you spend most of your money?

One of the best benefits of credit cards today is the ability to earn rewards. These rewards–redeemable for cash back, gift cards, travel bookings, and more–are earned when you spend money with said card.

Some credit cards will offer you a flat rate, meaning that every dollar you spend earns the same amount of rewards regardless of where it’s spent. Other cards will offer higher rewards rates for purchases at certain stores and in specific categories.

This makes it important to know how much your family spends and where. If you have teenage boys and half of your monthly budget goes toward food, you absolutely want to choose a card that rewards you for grocery store and restaurant purchases. If you have daughters on a traveling soccer team, pick a card that earns more on travel expenses (like gas, flights, and hotels).

Otherwise, if there isn’t a spending category that stands out in your household, a flat-rate rewards card might be the best option.

How do you want to redeem your earned rewards?

It doesn’t matter how many credit card rewards you earn if you can’t redeem them the way you need.

Some credit cards offer you a number of options, ranging from statement credits to issued checks, gift cards, or travel vouchers. Other cards, though, might only allow you to redeem your points for gift cards. Be sure that the card you choose allows you to spend those rewards in the way that suits you best.

You should also look into the rates for each redemption option you’re given. For instance, many cards will give you a higher redemption rate (meaning that your points are worth more) when you book travel, but a lower rate if you want cash back. Other cards give you the same redemption rate across the board.

Do you travel often, or not at all?

There are some incredible travel credit cards on the market today. Many of them provide frequent fliers with perks like airline/hotel status, rental car upgrades, free checked bags, and even complimentary TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. Some cards may even give your family a travel credit to use each year on things like hotel stays, cruises, or airfare.

However, if you’re at home with infant twins, travel-rich card benefits probably aren’t of much use to you right now. It’s important to choose a card that matches your needs at this particular season in life. Later down the line, as your family’s needs change, so can your card choices.

Does an annual fee make sense?

It might seem counterintuitive to ever pay to simply carry a credit card, in the form of an annual fee. However, the right card and the right cash back rewards can make that fee well-worth paying.

Whether an annual fee makes sense for your family depends on how much you plan to spend on the account, the benefits you’ll use, and whether you will make more off of the card than you’ll spend. For instance, if a card offers a high cash back rate in all of the categories where your family spends, you could earn hundreds of dollars in rewards each year. This makes a $95 fee more than worthwhile.

Some cards offer hundreds in travel vouchers each year, which can cancel out (or almost make up for) a premium card fee. Others might give your family perks like Uber credits or elite status with your favorite travel brands.

If the benefits offered are things that your family will use, and/or you’ll earn more in rewards with the card than you’ll spend, an annual fee is worth considering.

Do you have high-interest debt?

If you’re currently carrying high-interest debt, especially in the form of another credit card balance, the right card can be an asset. That’s because many cards today will offer new cardholders an introductory balance transfer offer, often 0% interest for a period of time.

By taking advantage of this offer, your family can double down on debt repayments while also avoiding finance charges. This can help you get out of debt faster and for less money.

If you’re paying money in high-interest fees each month, try to find a new card with a great balance transfer offer, and save yourself a ton in the process.

Best Credit Card for Parents

There are a few things that parents everywhere have in common: they spend more on gas and groceries than ever before, they like saving money where they can, and they have a never-ending laundry pile. While the right credit card still can’t help you with that last one, you can help mitigate the first two with these credit cards:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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This card is the holy grail of grocery shopping, offering an impressive 6% back on everything you spend at your local market, up to the annual limit. Redemptions are easy, and the card has a reasonable fee.

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Welcome bonus: $200 after you spend $1,000 on the card within 3 months
  • Introductory offer: 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 6% cash back on groceries ($6,000 annual limit), 3% cash back at gas stations (no limit), 1% cash back everywhere else
  • Rewards redemption options: Statement credit or gift cards (equal value)
  • Other benefits: Return protection, roadside assistance, secondary rental car coverage, lost/damaged phone coverage, and more
  • Why we love it: If you buy food and fill your gas tank, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the best cards around.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

This card is my personal favorite for traveling, as it provides some incredible protections for cardholders. Add that to the excellent rewards (and redemption options), and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is easily a family favorite.

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on the card within 3 months (that equates to a $750 value when redeemed for travel, or $600 when redeemed for a statement credit)
  • Introductory offer: None
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining, 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else
  • Rewards redemption options: Statement credit or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (when redeemed for travel, you get a 25% points bonus)
  • Other benefits: Primary rental car coverage, luggage protection, extended warranty, purchase protection, travel delay/cancellation coverage
  • Why we love it: If an airline has ever lost your bag for a few days, you’ll recognize the value of the Sapphire Preferred’s baggage delay protection. Combined with a 25% bonus on travel points redemptions, this card makes it easy for your family to travel–whether to Disney or just to see the grandparents.

Best Credit Card for Single Parents

Parenting is hard when you have a teammate in the trenches with you. When you’re a single parent, life is even crazier, which makes the right credit card (that can save you money and simplify your life) so much more important.

Amazon Rewards Signature Visa Card

Show of hands: who shops on Amazon? I know that as a busy mom, I rely on this speedy company for everything from vitamins to pantry goods, birthday gifts, and everything in between. With the Amazon Rewards Signature Visa Card, you’ll not only earn cash back on those purchases, but everything else you buy, too.

  • Annual fee: None, but you are required to have an Amazon Prime membership
  • Sign-up bonus: $50 Amazon gift card when you sign up
  • Introductory offer: None
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 3% back on Amazon.com and at Whole Foods; 2% back at gas stations, drug stores, and restaurants; and 1% back everywhere else
  • Rewards redemption options: Redeem for statement credits, gift cards, travel, or use Shop With Points when buying on Amazon
  • Other benefits: Roadside dispatch, purchase protection, extended warranty protection
  • Why we love it: If you’re buying on Amazon and/or Whole Foods anyway, this card is a good (no-fee) way to earn more. Redemptions are incredibly easy, and you’ll also earn on things like gas and restaurants.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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The fee-free sister to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express above, this card offers good cash back for families (especially single parents), but without an added expense.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Welcome bonus: $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on the card within 3 months
  • Introductory offer: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 3% cash back at grocery stores ($6,000 annual limit), 2% cash back at gas stations and select department stores, 1% cash back everywhere else
  • Rewards redemption options: Simple statement credit
  • Other benefits: Secondary rental car coverage, extended warranty, return protection, phone loss/damage coverage
  • Why we love it: Want good cash back on those common expenses, but don’t want to worry about whether you are breaking even with an annual fee? Then this card is perfect for you. The 15-month 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers makes it a great addition to any parent’s wallet.

Citi Double Cash

You can’t get simpler than the Citi Double Cash. Earn flat-rate cash back on everything you buy everywhere, without an annual fee to worry about.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Introductory offer: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 2% flat cash back on everything: 1% back when you buy + 1% back when you pay your statement
  • Rewards redemption options: Also simple: get statement credits or a check issued to you
  • Other benefits: Lost wallet service, first late fee “pass”
  • Why we love it: There’s nothing to track and nothing to remember with this card. Simply spend, collect 2% back, and redeem for a statement credit. Easy-peasy, especially for busy single parents (or really, any parent!).

Best Credit Card for Young Parents

If you’re a young parent, you likely also have young children. This means that your credit card needs are very different from those of older parents with teenagers or even empty nests.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Young parents are still finding their groove, not only with their children but also with their financial life as a whole. This might mean a changing budget over the years, buying a home or car, kids who slowly begin to eat you out of house and home, etc. That’s why the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is perfect for young parents–you get to pick your bonus categories and can even change them each quarter!

  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: $150 statement credit when you spend $500 in the first 90 days
  • Introductory offer: None
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Rewards: 5% on first combined $2,000 of spending in two categories of your choosing each quarter; 2% back on your choice of one everyday category (like grocery stores or gas stations); 1% back everywhere else
  • Rewards redemption options: Statement credit, direct deposit into your bank account, or a rewards card
  • Other benefits: Extended warranty, lost luggage coverage, emergency cash disbursement, 24/7 travel concierge
  • Why we love it: Your family’s needs might change every couple of months when your kids are young–luckily, this card allows you to change 5% rewards categories based on your needs in any given quarter.

Citi Simplicity Card

Cash back is a great thing to earn. If your credit card bill gets lost in the chaos of family life (or you just forget out of pure exhaustion), you can easily negate those savings with penalty APRs and late fees. With the Citi Simplicity Card, you can protect yourself from both.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Introductory offer: 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months
  • Cost for additional cards: None
  • Other benefits: No late fees, no penalty rate, identity theft solutions, account alerts, 24/7 customer service
  • Why we love it: When you have a newborn at home or are getting used to maintaining a family credit card, things can happen and statements can get paid late. This usually means painful late fees and even more painful penalty interest rates. With this card, though, you don’t have to worry about either of those. Plus, no annual fees and a great 0% APR introductory offer on balance transfers and purchases.

Choosing the right credit card for your family truly depends on your family’s dynamics. By picking the card that matches your spending habits, rewards preferences, and needs, you will optimize not only your cash back but also the convenience your credit cards can provide.

Topics: Credit Cards

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