Amazon Credit Cards: Are They Worth It?
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Amazon credit cards offer an easy way to earn cash back at the world’s largest retailer. That said, they provide the most value to frequent Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers — others may find better rewards with a more generic cash back card.
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Be honest: You probably shop on Amazon more than you should.
Even if you try to buy local — rather than lining the pockets of the richest man in the world — sometimes the convenience and ubiquity of the ‘Zon is too much to resist.
So, whether you’re a diehard Amazon shopper or just an occasional user, you might be wondering whether you could save some bucks with Amazon credit cards. Here’s what you need to know.
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7 Amazon Credit Cards, Compared
As with the website itself, you’ve got quite a few choices when it comes to Amazon’s credit cards.
Most of the cards have Prime and non-Prime versions; you’ll receive the former if you’re a Prime member, and the latter if you’re not. That’s not permanent, though: If you have the non-Prime version of a card and become a Prime member, you can request to be upgraded. Likewise, if you have a Prime card and cancel your Prime account, it’s likely that your card will automatically be downgraded.
Here’s a brief rundown of the seven Amazon rewards credit cards currently available — click on their names or images to learn more.
Besides what you’re already paying for Prime, this cash back card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. It earns a generous 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores; and 1% back on everything else. You’ll also get a $70 Amazon gift card as soon as you’re approved.
If you’re already a Prime member who takes advantage of its many perks, including free two-day shipping, Amazon Prime video, and discounts at Whole Foods, then this is the best Amazon credit card.
If you’re not a Prime member, you need to determine whether this card’s benefits outweigh the costs — especially when considering that the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card earns similar rewards (and doesn’t require a $119/year Prime membership).
Yay: On Prime Day and Cyber Monday, Amazon sometimes gives additional cash back or discounts to its card members. And nay: The 5% cash back rate doesn’t apply to international Amazon sites (think: Amazon.co.uk).
As noted above, this card is nearly identical to the Prime Rewards card, with three major differences:
- You don’t need to be a Prime member.
- You’ll only earn 3% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market (instead of 5%).
- You’ll receive a $50 Amazon gift card when you’re approved (rather than a $70 one).
If you’re an occasional Amazon or Whole Foods shopper who doesn’t see the point of paying $119/year for Prime, then this card might be a good fit. It still earns solid rewards at Amazon and Whole Foods, as well as at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores.
In general, we’d say this card is a better choice if you A) don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership and B) spend less than $495/month (actually $5,950/year) at Amazon and Whole Foods.
Because, from a pure cash back standpoint, that’s the amount you’d need to spend to make the Prime Reward’s fee worth its additional 2% in cash back rewards.
- Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card: $5,950/year x 3% cash back = $178.50 earned
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: $5,950/year x 5% cash back – $119 annual membership fee for Prime = $178.50 earned
That said, Prime membership also comes with free two-day shipping and Amazon Prime Video, whose values depend on how often you use them. So don’t forget to factor those into your calculations — and don’t forget there are plenty of other credit cards with no annual fees, as well.
You can use both the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card anywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Since they are Visa Signature cards, they come with access to a range of high-end features, such as lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, roadside dispatch, secondary car rental insurance, extended warranty protection, and purchase protection. Cardholders will also be able to take advantage of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and concierge service.
Aside from a $10 gift card upon approval, this card doesn’t have a lot of frills. You can only use it when shopping at Amazon; its main purpose is to finance Amazon purchases over time.
When you buy something at Amazon with this card, you can choose to pay it over 6, 12, or 24 months with no interest, depending on the amount of the purchase. You can pay in set monthly installments or on your own schedule.
Here are the purchase requirements and accompanying interest-free timeframes:
- $150 or more: 6 months
- $600 or more: 12 months
- $800 or more: 24 months
In other words, spend $600, and you’ll have 12 months to pay off your bill — without interest.
The catch, however, is that this card comes with “deferred interest.” Which means if there’s any balance left over at the end of the promotional period, or if you miss a payment, you’ll be billed for ALL of the interest you would have accrued from the beginning. So be really careful to only finance a purchase if you’re confident you can pay off the entire balance within the allotted timeframe.
Another heads-up: This card and the one following are issued by Synchrony Financial, which has a reputation for poor customer service. If you’re interested in true 0% intro APR cards — which work at any store, don’t charge deferred interest, and come from reputable issuers — here’s a list of our favorites.
While the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card require good credit, this card (and its Prime version below) are available to people with lower credit scores. If you have bad credit, and aren’t going to qualify, Synchrony will automatically consider you for the secured version of the card (known as the Amazon Secured Card). If approved, you’ll need to put down a security deposit of at least $100, which will serve as your credit limit.
This store card, which is only available to Prime members, comes with a $100 instant gift card, the same interest-free financing terms as above, and 5% cash back at Amazon.
You can’t, however, receive interest-free financing and cash back on the same purchase. If you buy a $1,000 computer on Amazon on the card, for example, you can pay it off over 24 months without any interest — but you won’t get 5% cash back on the purchase. If you choose to get the 5% cash back instead, you’ll need to pay it off within your billing cycle, by the statement due date, to avoid interest charges.
This card is targeted at users who have both a Prime membership and a business. The introductory bonus is a $125 gift card upon approval.
It offers 5% cash back at Amazon Business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon.com, and Whole Foods (up to $120,000 spent per year); 2% back at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. providers; and 1% on everything else.
Like the store card, you can choose to forgo the 5% cash back and receive interest-free financing instead; if you go this route, you’ll have 90 days to pay off your purchase.
Don’t have a Prime membership? You can still apply for the non-Prime version of this business credit card: the Amazon Business American Express Card. You’ll be eligible for 3% cash back at Amazon and its subsidiaries (up to $120,000 spent per year), or 60 days interest-free financing.
How Do Amazon Credit Card Rewards Work?
When you’re ready to redeem the cash back you’ve earned (which comes in the form of points: $1 = 100 points), you’ll get the most value from: statement credits, which reduce the amount you owe on your credit card bill, or Shop with Points, which lets you pay for Amazon purchases with the points you’ve accrued.
While both are good redemption options, we’d recommend using your points for statement credits. Why? If you use your Amazon points to cover a purchase, you’ll miss out on the 3%–5% cash back rewards you would’ve earned by paying with your Amazon credit card.
If you just love the feeling of getting a purchase for “free,” however, here’s how Shop with Points works: Once you’ve added your credit card to your Amazon account, you’ll see your available rewards at checkout.
You can apply your rewards points immediately to your balance, or save them for next time. If you don’t have enough points to cover your purchase, you can put the balance on — what else? — your Amazon credit card.
You can’t buy everything on Amazon through Shop with Points, though. Excluded items include: “Amazon Kindle downloads, digital music, Amazon video titles, Amazon Appstore apps, AmazonFresh items, Subscribe and Save items, Magazine subscriptions, Pre-order items, Textbook rentals, AmazonAllowance and Reload your balance (Gift Cards).” Oh, and if you’re a fan of one-click shopping (so dangerous, but so good), you can’t use that with points either.
Amazon Credit Card: How to Pay Your Bill?
Once you have an Amazon credit card and have racked up some purchases, you might be wondering how to make your monthly payments.
Do you log in to Amazon? Or Chase Bank? Can you just ask Jeff Bezos to cover your balance for you? (Unfortunately, no.)
How to pay your Amazon credit card depends on which card you have. To pay your bill, you’ll need to go through your credit card issuer (not Amazon itself).
- If you have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card or Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, you’ll set up an online account through Chase’s website or app.
- If you have the Amazon.com Store Card, Amazon Prime Store Card, or Amazon Secured Card, you’ll set up an online account through Synchrony’s website or app.
- If you have the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card or Amazon Business American Express Card, you’ll set up an online account through American Express’s website or app.
Need further assistance? Call the number on the back of your card. You should be able to pay over the phone, or get information about your online payment options.
Is the Amazon Prime Credit Card Worth It?
If you already have a Prime membership, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is an obvious choice.
Not only will you receive an instant $70 credit to help offset the cost of your Prime membership, but you’ll also earn 5% cash back on all your Amazon and Whole Foods purchases. If you spend $500/month between the two, that’s an extra $300/year just for doing your shopping like normal.
But, if you’re not already a Prime member — and don’t think its perks are worth the cost — then perhaps an Amazon card isn’t right for you. Unless you’re doing a decent amount of shopping at Amazon or Whole Foods, you can get more versatile rewards with other cash back credit cards.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Amazon Credit Cards?
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review), which earns 6% back at any U.S. supermarket (on the first $6,000 annually), 6% back on select streaming services, and 3% back at U.S. gas stations and for transit. You can often buy Amazon gift cards at grocery stores, essentially earning a 6% rewards rate at Amazon, too.
- U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card (Review), which allows you to choose a different 5% category each quarter; examples include electronic stores, internet and streaming, and furniture stores. You can choose a 2% category, too: either gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants.
- Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review), which earns 2% cash back on everything, everywhere — and doesn’t have an annual fee (you’ll get 1% for purchases, 1% for payments and you must pay at least the minimum due on time).
- Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) and Discover it® Cash Back (Review), which offer 5% rotating quarterly cash back bonus categories, often including Amazon, drugstores, department stores, and grocery stores (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%; activation required). The Discover it Cash Back even doubles your cash back at the end of your first year, potentially garnering you 10% back on Amazon purchases!
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (Review), which offers 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, phone, and cable services; 2% at gas stations and restaurants; and $750 cash bonus for spending $7,500 in the first 3 months after account opening.
As you can see, whether you’re an Amazon shopper or not, there’s certainly a credit card out there for you.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.
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