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Credit Cards

Best credit cards for families in 2021

We analyzed popular credit cards using an average American's annual spending budget and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks to find the best cards for families.

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Managing all the costs associated with a family can be tough. There are expenses for everything, from diapers and groceries to after-school activities and family vacations. But if you use the right credit card, you can save on these expenses and benefit from added perks.

Beyond rewards, many of the best credit cards offer helpful expense management tools, purchase protection and travel insurance that can make your life easier.

Families also have a lot of tasks to deal with beyond paying bills, so flexible and simple rewards were key in recommending the top cards. After all, the last thing you want to do is add "how to figure out your credit card rewards" to your to-do list.

Below, CNBC Select rounded up the best credit cards for families in common spending categories.

Best credit cards for families

Best for cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

Terms apply.

Who is this for? If you're looking for a straightforward cash-back card, opt for the flat-rate Citi® Double Cash Card. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay your credit card bill. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and you don't have to worry about activating bonus categories. And cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit to offset your bill or direct deposit into a bank account.

If you have credit card debt, this card can help you consolidate and pay it off with a 0% APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR). Just make sure you transfer balances within four months from account opening. There is a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5), which can be outweighed by the amount you save on interest.

This card has no annual fee, adding to the reasons it's a great card for families. Just know there is a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S., so opt for another card on family travel abroad, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® mentioned next.

Best for family travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Who is this for? Family travel can be stressful, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® can make it more affordable and rewarding. This travel credit card offers 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus there's a generous welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The Sapphire Preferred is notable for the strong redemption rate when you redeem points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points are worth 25% more, so the 60,000-point welcome bonus is worth $750 toward travel, such as airfare and hotels. This is a great way to maximize the value of points and can help cover the cost of travel arrangements for your family.

Beyond rewards, cardholders can benefit from helpful travel perks, such as no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency assistance services, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement. These benefits are a great safety net if unexpected situations arise before or during family vacations.

The Sapphire Preferred card does have a $95 annual fee, but it can be worthwhile through the rewards and added perks.

Best for gas and groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Who is this for? If you're busy making grocery runs and driving your family around, a card that rewards those purchases is essential. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers the highest cash-back rate at U.S. supermarkets at 6% on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

Gas fill-ups can benefit from 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations. Even if you opt for mass transit, such as taxis, rideshares, trains or buses, you can earn 3% cash back. Beyond grocery, gas and transit rewards, you earn 6% cash back on select streaming subscriptions and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Cash back can conveniently be redeemed for a statement credit to offset your bill. Card members can also take advantage of Amex Offers, where you earn a statement credit or additional cash back at select retailers.

This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it can be offset by the cash back you earn and discounts you can get through the Amex Offers.

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% introductory APR for the first 15 months that your account is open

  • Regular APR

    15.49% to 25.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Who is this for? If you like to dine out with your family (whether it's take-out or sit-down) and enjoy going to the movies, amusement parks or zoo, the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a money-saving card. For no annual fee, you can earn a competitive 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, in addition to 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

New cardholders can take advantage of one of the best welcome bonuses available now: $200 after you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening. Cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit, check or gift card at any time — there's no need to wait until you reach a certain dollar amount in rewards.

If you want to take your family to a special entertainment event, cardholders can benefit from access to exclusive experiences, such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Capital One JamFest.

In addition to rewards, there's an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, which is a great way to finance new purchases or refinance debt. After the intro period ends, a 15.74% to 25.74% variable APR applies.

Best for online shopping

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1% back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $100 Amazon.com gift card upon approval

  • Annual fee

    $0 (but Prime membership is required)

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    14.24% to 22.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Who is this for? If you prefer to order household goods and groceries online to save time, you should consider a rewards card that offers lucrative rewards. The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card provides a robust 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods Market. You can order family goods from Amazon or Prime Now and benefit from unmatched rewards.

In addition to the generous 5% cash back at those two retailers, the card gives users 2% back on purchases made at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% back on all other purchases.

This card also offers a $100 Amazon.com gift card upon approval as a one-time bonus. Rewards can be applied to your bill, new Amazon purchases, redeemed for gift cards and more.

As the name implies, you must have an eligible Prime membership to apply for this card ($119 for an annual membership and $12.99 for a monthly membership). If you don't, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card doesn't require a Prime membership and still offers 3% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods.

Best credit cards for families

Best for Credit card
Cash backCiti® Double Cash Card
TravelChase Sapphire Preferred®
Gas and groceriesBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Dining and entertainmentCapital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Online shoppingAmazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Our methodology

To determine which cards offer the best value for families, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including: rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

While many of the overall best credit cards are also the best cards for families, the needs of a family differ from single-person households. Therefore, we selected the best family credit cards with family needs in mind, such as relatively simple rewards programs, easy redemption options and bonus rewards in key categories like gas and groceries. Generally speaking, the best credit card recommendations mentioned above will be the same regardless of how many members are a part of your family.

Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.