If you're a frequent Amazon.com shopper, you may want to consider one of the Amazon credit cards to earn maximum rewards from every purchase. Amazon credit cards are issued in two varieties -- those issued with a Visa logo and those that can only be used for Amazon.com purchases. Both types have benefits and drawbacks, and Amazon Prime members get an extra boost in rewards.
Two varieties of Amazon credit cards
There are two main varieties of Amazon credit cards. The first are the Visa co-branded cards issued by Chase, and the second is the Amazon store credit cards issued by Synchrony Financial. We'll get into the differences between them in a bit, but for now, the biggest difference is that the Visa cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, while the Amazon store cards are limited to use for Amazon.com purchases only.
In addition, both cards have two different "tiers" -- one for Amazon Prime customers and one for everyone else. The main difference between the tiers is a higher reward rate for Prime cardholders.
So, the four different Amazon credit cards are:
- Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Amazon.com Store Card
- Amazon Prime Store Card
Comparison of rewards and other benefits
Let's start with the two Visa co-branded cards. First, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card has a reward program that earns 3% back on Amazon.com purchases, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Rewards can be used like an Amazon.com gift card to pay for purchases.
The card also has several travel benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance. The card has access to Visa Signature® benefits such as the Visa Signature Concierge Service® as well.
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has all of these benefits, with one key difference -- the reward rate jumps to 5% for Amazon.com purchases. Both cards have no annual membership fee.
The two Amazon Store Cards have a few additional benefits, with a few drawbacks as well. Since the card is not a Visa-branded product, it can only be used at Amazon.com, so you can't earn rewards on other types of purchases, nor do you get the travel or Visa Signature® benefits. The Amazon.com Store Card and Amazon Prime Store Card earn 3% and 5% back, respectively, on Amazon purchases, just like the Visa cards.
The main unique benefit of the store cards is the ability to choose promotional financing instead of earning rewards on eligible purchases. Purchases of $149 or more qualify for six-month deferred interest financing, and purchases of $599 or more get 12 months of no interest. Furthermore, certain items sold by Amazon qualify for special 24-month deferred-interest financing. The caveat is that if you don't pay off the entire purchase by the end of the promotional period, interest will be charged to the account retroactively.
Both of the Visa-branded Amazon credit cards have interest rates that vary depending on your creditworthiness. At press time, the current APR range is 15.24% to 23.24%, and the rates will vary based on the prime rate.
On the other hand, both of the Amazon store credit cards charge the same variable APR to all customers. Currently this is a relatively high 26.99%. It's rather common for store credit cards to have higher-than-average APRs.
All of the Amazon credit cards are competitive products, especially for people who shop on Amazon.com often. The cards' reward rates for Amazon purchases are better than you'll get from most standard credit cards, especially for Prime members.
The Visa-branded cards are the obvious choice for people who want the flexibility to use their credit cards not only at Amazon.com, but for other purchases as well. On the other hand, if you plan to finance a larger purchase and want to pay it off over time without interest, the store card could be the best choice for you.
Matthew Frankel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends Synchrony Financial. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.