The top credit cards for families
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Families need many things: groceries, diapers, new shoes for growing feet, gymnastics classes, doctor’s appointments — and whenever possible, a relaxing vacation from it all. Thankfully, the things your family needs (like groceries and checkups) can pay for the things you want (like vacations or extra cash back), if you choose the right credit card.
In today’s landscape, the best credit cards for families can do so much more than just present an opportunity to charge expenses. However, if you primarily use credit cards for purchases that you can’t afford to pay off each month with cash, we don’t recommend utilizing many of these credit cards since this list was primarily curated based on rewards and benefits. If you intend to carry a balance on your cards, we instead recommend checking out these credit cards with the lowest interest rates.
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How we chose the best cards
While many of the popular credit cards generally considered to be best in class for all consumers will also be the same top cards for families to consider, families have needs that differ a bit from those without children. For example, families often spend more money in certain purchase categories and need more flexible awards.
To determine the best credit cards for families, we looked at the top credit cards in three categories and looked for:
- The most flexible, valuable and easy-to-use rewards.
- Lucrative welcome bonuses.
- Cards that offer more than enough built-in benefits families can really use.
- Cards that earn in everyday categories where families frequently spend money.
Best credit cards for families
- American Express® Green Card: Best for overall travel purchases.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for easy-to-use rewards.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for beginners.
- Citi Premier® Card: Best for low annual fee.
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for dining out at restaurants.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Best for family air travel.
- JetBlue Plus Card: Best for pooling family points.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best for Hilton stays.
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt stays.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best for Marriott stays.
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for overall cash back.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for grocery purchases at U.S. supermarkets.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for flexible rewards.
The information for the Amex Green, JetBlue Plus card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
As an added layer, we have also divided the cards into three sections: best travel credit cards, best hotel credit cards and best cash-back credit cards — so you can truly pick the card that helps you with your ultimate end goal. Current bonus values below are calculated by TPG and not the card issuers.
Best travel credit cards
Summer break, spring break, winter break and good old-fashioned weekend getaways present the perfect opportunities to travel with your family and create some lifelong memories. When curating our best travel cards specifically for ones that are best for families, we went with the cards that offered the simplest (yet still rewarding) options that afforded as much flexibility as possible.
Current welcome offer: Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership.
Current bonus value: $900.
Standout benefits: Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on travel, transit and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees).
Why it’s worth it: You have to love a card that comes with such a wide definition of travel, including airfare, hotel rooms, Airbnb, car rentals, tour operators, travel agencies, campsites and more, while transit covers ride-hailing, buses, taxis, metros, subways, tolls and more. The Amex Green offers annual statement credits of $100 for both Clear and LoungeBuddy. Both of these perks can come in handy when traveling with the family. Enrollment required for select benefits.
For travel purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2020, with the Amex Green Card, you’ll get trip delay insurance that will cover round-trip flights. You’ll be covered if you pay for the entire ticket with your card, use your card to pay the taxes and fees on award tickets or use Pay with Points. The Amex Green Card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees). Membership Rewards points you earn on the card can then be transferred to over 20 airline and hotel partners.
Current bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Current bonus value: $1,388*.
Standout benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on purchases. This card provides a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) every four years and has no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it’s worth it: You’ve seen the commercials — many actors and actresses are fans, and so are we. The Capital One Venture Rewards card has always been an extremely popular choice for family travelers who need to keep things simple and don’t want to worry whether awards will be available during peak family travel seasons. The card allows customers to use their Venture Rewards miles to offset the cost of any travel purchases made on their card in the previous 90 days at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
Venture miles are now worth more than ever since they are also transferable to airline programs, including some family-favorites such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan (great lap-infant award prices) and Avianca LifeMiles, which can save you a ton of miles when flying partner carriers, such as United Airlines.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Current bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Current bonus value: $1,200*
Standout benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar total on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3 points per dollar on select streaming services; 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 2 points per dollar on all other travel; and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Through March 2022, you’ll also receive 5 points per dollar on all Lyft rides. Points earned are extremely valuable as they transfer at a 1:1 ratio to more than a dozen different travel partners, including popular programs such as United MileagePlus, World of Hyatt, Southwest Rapid Rewards, British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, JetBlue TrueBlue and Marriott Bonvoy. The card also includes primary auto rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage and no foreign transaction fees.
Other money-saving benefits include complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash for a minimum of one year (must activate by March 31, 2022) and no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it’s worth it: It doesn’t offer the bells and whistles of the similar but more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a great pick for earning bonus points on travel and dining and for enjoying some solid travel protections in the process — all while receiving a record-high welcome offer. In fact, the Sapphire Preferred is still my most frequent recommendation to those new to miles and points!
In addition to transferring points to partners such as United and Southwest, you can also redeem the points directly through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 cents apiece. Whether you simply don’t want to spend $550 a year to get the Sapphire Reserve, or if your credit score currently isn’t high enough to qualify for that very premium card, the Sapphire Preferred remains a very solid option.
Current bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Current bonus value: ThankYou points can be worth about $1,020 when utilized for travel via Citi’s transfer partners. However, if you don’t want to mess with transfer partners and award availability, the 60,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $600 in paid airfare booked via the Citi ThankYou travel center.
Standout benefits: Earn 3 ThankYou points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
Similar to the American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards programs, Citi has agreements with airline transfer partners so that you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to various frequent flyer programs, sometimes with periodic transfer bonuses. The lineup of transfer partners isn’t as U.S.-centric as you will find with Chase Ultimate Rewards, but some solid programs are available, such as Avianca LifeMiles, which has award chart sweet spots. You may have read about using LifeMiles to fly Lufthansa first or business class, but there are also closer-to-home uses.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it’s worth it: At just $95 per year, the Citi Premier has been in my wallet for years. The bonus categories are valuable and relevant to families, with many common household categories included. If you don’t want to use points at a fixed value, you can transfer to some valuable partners which will truly allow you to explore the world. And while many of their partners are international partners, JetBlue is a domestic option, which is great for families. For those who are more of an expert in redeeming miles, many of their partners are also part of a global alliance, which will allow you to redeem their respective miles for domestic airlines.
Current bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.
Current bonus value: $1,200.
Standout benefits: The American Express Gold Card is a heavy-hitter for families looking to maximize their wallet as it awards 4 points per dollar spent on both dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets, up to a $25,000 cap per calendar year (then 1 point per dollar). Additionally, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel.
The card includes an up-to-$10 statement credit each month (up to $120 per calendar year) when you dine at participating restaurants including GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (excludes Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports and racetracks).
Additionally, you’ll also receive $10 in Uber Cash each month for a total of up to $120 per calendar year. You can then use your monthly Uber Cash on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. In fact, this card is one of the most recent exciting card revamps for families. Card must be added in Uber account before you can receive Uber Cash benefit. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).
Why it’s worth it: The American Express Gold Card beats most other cards for both U.S. supermarket expenses and when dining out at restaurants. The $250 annual fee is higher than some cards, but if you make use of the up to $120 in annual dining credits and up to $120 in annual Uber Cash, then the fee becomes much more reasonable for families to consider. This is a card you want in your wallet if your family spends a good amount on eating — whether that comes in the form of groceries at U.S. supermarkets or meals at restaurants.
Current bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Current bonus value: $450
Standout benefits: While the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers the most perks for families, there are a total of three personal Southwest cards that all allow you to earn the Companion Pass with enough spending each year. Having that Companion Pass allows you to designate a friend or family member to join you on Southwest flights for just the cost of taxes.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card awards a $75 Southwest travel credit each year, 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards points at each anniversary and 25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi, as well as four upgraded A1-A15 boarding positions each year.
Annual fee: $149.
Why it’s worth it: Southwest Airlines is one of our favorite airlines when it comes to family travel, in part because its Rapid Rewards program is extremely straightforward for families to use. You can simply log on to southwest.com, easily spot the cheapest dates to fly using your Rapid Rewards points thanks to the calendar view and secure the award flights you need. If your plans change, you can redeposit your award without penalty, making the points earned by the Southwest credit cards extremely useful for families tied to school schedules or who have plans that may change.
Both the welcome bonus points earned by this card and the everyday spending charged to the card count toward the number of qualifying points you need to earn in a calendar year to secure a Companion Pass.
Now, if your family has a small business, you might want to instead consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card. This is because the card offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, which will get you even closer to the points needed for the coveted Companion Pass.
Current bonus: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
Current bonus value: $520.
Standout benefits: You’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent on purchases with JetBlue, 2 points per dollar at restaurant and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy receiving 10% of your redeemed JetBlue points back and getting a free checked bag for you and up to three companions on the same reservation. You’ll also save 50% on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food on JetBlue-operated flights. Best of all, there are no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $99.
Why it’s worth it: The JetBlue TrueBlue program is unique in that it permits family members to pool their miles together in order to earn award flights faster. The onboard JetBlue experience is top-notch for families, as it offers complimentary assigned seats, the most economy legroom among U.S. airlines, a free snack basket and both free DirecTV and gate-to-gate Wi-Fi for all passengers. Families that want to take advantage of JetBlue’s family-friendly programs and policies will benefit from having a JetBlue Plus credit card, both for the points it earns and the savings it can provide on JetBlue award flights, bag fees and onboard purchases. You can also earn JetBlue Mosaic elite status if you spend $50,000 or more on the card annually.
And with JetBlue now flying to Europe, this credit card will allow you to redeem those points to fly across the pond.
Hotel credit cards
Hotel credit cards can help your family score better rooms, eat free breakfast, enjoy resort credits or simply provide some automatic elite status that makes the stays away from home a bit more enjoyable whether you simply need a room near the grandparents’ house or you want to head off to resorts in Hawaii and beyond.
Current bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $130 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership.
Current bonus value: $910
Standout benefits: Earn 12 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases. The card also gives you Hilton Gold status, which can translate to free breakfast or Hilton lounge access at select properties.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates & fees)
Why it’s worth it: Hilton has over 6,000 properties, including many family-friendly brands and resorts such as Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and a slew of fun resorts. It’s great to have hotel points earmarked for family getaways so your cash can stay safely tucked in your wallet. The automatic Gold status with this card can save you money, and the weekend award night can be maximized at high-end Hiltons such as the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego or the Grand Wailea in Maui.
If you aren’t scared off by a higher annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, at $450 (see rates and fees), has a 150,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening your account — and it might be an even better match than the Surpass card. According to TPG’s latest valuations, the 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points available with the Hilton Aspire are worth an impressive $900.
The Aspire card also provides top-tier Hilton Diamond status, an up-to-$250 annual Hilton resort statement credit (that can even be used to cover your reservation costs) and an up-to-$250 statement credit to use each year toward airline incidental charges. That’s more than $500 in benefits right there. The card also comes with unlimited Priority Pass lounge access and a free weekend award night each year of card membership (and another one after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year). Enrollment required for select benefits.
When staying on Hilton points, you avoid paying resort fees, resulting in hundreds of dollars saved on a resort vacation.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Current bonus: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points — 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
Current bonus value: Up to $1,020.
Standout benefits: Earn 4 points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness clubs and gyms; and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. The card includes Hyatt Discoverist status, but for those chasing a higher Hyatt elite status tier, the card also includes five elite nights and the ability to earn an additional two elite nights with every $5,000 spent on the card with no cap, making it possible to earn milestone awards and Globalist status just with spending on the card. Globalist status is ideal for families as you’ll receive space-available suite upgrades, complimentary breakfast for two adults and two children and lounge access.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card provides all cardholders an annual Category 1-4 free night at each account anniversary and the ability to earn a second Category 1-4 free night by spending $15,000 on the card in a cardmember year.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it’s worth it: What makes this card a particularly great fit for families is that Hyatt offers some of the best resorts in the world for those after high-quality family vacations at reasonable award rates. The Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Maui, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort and the Andaz Costa Rica are all popular family favorites that can be booked for 15,000 to 25,000 Hyatt points per night. With Hyatt, resort fees are waived for everyone staying on award nights booked purely with World of Hyatt points. Hyatt has also been known to launch special promotions just for its cardholders, which can save you points or money.
You can supplement your World of Hyatt account balance with 1:1 transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, but earning up to 60,000 bonus Hyatt points from the card’s welcome bonus, receiving up to two Hyatt Category 1-4 awards per year and getting a jump-start toward earning Hyatt elite status all make this card a winner for both Hyatt loyalists and those families who only need the occasional Hyatt award stay.
Current bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
Current bonus value: $600.
Standout benefits: Earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Each year after your card renewal month, receive an up-to-50,000-point annual award night. Cardholders also get up to $300 in annual statement credits for Marriott purchases charged to your card — including room rates.
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).
Why it’s worth it: It is not hard to get several hundred dollars in value from an annual up-to-50,000-point Marriott certificate. Some great places for families to use these certificates include the on-property Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa, SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park, Westin Snowmass and Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino. You’ll also earn automatic Marriott Gold status and the ability to earn Platinum status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year thereafter.
When you factor in the up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases charged to your card at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and annual award night, the $450 annual fee is significantly less painful. The card also comes with a Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required) and provides a statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee (up to $100) once every four years.
Points and travel perks are great, but sometimes cash is king. If your family doesn’t want to muddle with points, it is hard to argue with cash back. While cash itself can be simple, there are many different card options, even within the realm of cash back.
Current bonus: None.
Current bonus value: None.
Standout benefits: The Citi Double Cash Card is one of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back rewards cards. With up to 2% cash-back earnings on all purchases — 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay — you don’t need to worry about category bonuses or spend time figuring out which card to use for every single purchase you make.
Annual fee: $0.
Why it’s worth it: If you are looking for an easy-to-use cash-back card, the Citi Double Cash Card is hard to beat. Yes, it doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles some other cards offer in terms of purchase protection or travel insurance, but for a no-annual-fee card, you are earning increased cash back.
You can also pair this card with a Citi card that earns premium ThankYou Reward points. Instead of cashing out your points toward cash, with his option, you can trade in your cash back for ThankYou points and then transfer your points to one of Citi’s many airline partners. The transfer ratio for the Citi Double Cash is a 1:1 ratio, which can then allow your points to go quite far. And since TPG values ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you are effectively getting a 3.4% return on all purchases.
Current bonus: Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)- worth up to $300 cash back!
Standout benefits: The relatively new Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 5% back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3% back on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3% back on drugstores. You’ll then earn an increased 1.5% back across all other purchases.
And despite being a no-annual-fee card, you’ll still receive some pretty generous benefits, such as secondary car rental insurance for theft and collision damage on most cars in the U.S. and internationally, purchase protection that covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account and extended warranty protection that extends the time period of a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
Annual fee: $0.
Why it’s worth it: If you are a beginner or an expert in the Chase program, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is an amazing card to have. While points are worth 1 cent each if you opt for cash back, you are actually earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points with every purchase you make. If you then pair this card with another Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, this will give you even more options to redeem your points towards travel. You can then use your points at an increased rate in the Chase travel portal or transfer to one of Chase’s many airline or hotel partner programs. Since TPG values Chase points at 2 cents per point, this makes your everyday spending purchases worth a 3% return.
Current bonus: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first six months of card membership.
Standout benefits: The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express aligns very well with where families spend their money. With it, you’ll get 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending at supermarkets each calendar year, then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, and 1% cash back everywhere else. These earnings accumulate as reward dollars and can be redeemed for statement credits when you have a rewards balance of at least $25.
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees).
Why it’s worth it: Purchasing groceries at U.S. supermarkets is one of families’ biggest expenses each week, so to earn 6% cash back — the highest cash back you’ll receive from any rewards card — is huge. And right now, you’ll continue to increase your cash back with the current welcome bonus that’ll earn $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first six months of card membership.
The card also gives you access to Amex Offers, which will help you unlock savings at many popular merchants. If you don’t yet have an American Express card in your wallet, this is the perfect opportunity to save on many household purchases — to potentially even help offset the annual fee.
No matter which credit card your family decides is best for your situation, it is entirely possible to turn everyday expenses into rewards and perks that your family can enjoy together. Just ensure that you use the included benefits and don’t start paying interest and fees that offset the value of the rewards you can earn.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, please click here.
* For Uber Eats Pass terms and conditions, click here.
Featured photo by Natalya Zaritskaya via Unsplash
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