This article was updated on June 19, 2018.
If you shop at Amazon frequently, or plan to do a significant portion of your 2017 holiday shopping through the e-commerce giant, you could potentially get as much as 10% back on your purchases if you use the right credit card, or cards, for your shopping. Here are three things to consider if you want to extract as much value as possible from your Amazon shopping this holiday season, and why an Amazon credit card might not be the best way to go.
Consider an Amazon credit card
There are two types of Amazon credit cards available, either of which can help you maximize your Amazon shopping this holiday season. The first is the Amazon store credit card, which is issued by Synchrony Financial, and the second is the Amazon Visa cards, which are issued by Chase.
The main difference between the two is that you can only use the store cards for Amazon purchases, while the Chase-issued Amazon Visa credit cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. While this is an obvious drawback to the store cards, it's also worth mentioning that the Amazon store cards come with the ability to choose promotional financing on eligible purchases.
Additionally, both cards come in two tiers -- one for Amazon Prime customers and one for everyone else. So there are a total of four Amazon-branded credit card products. There are the Amazon.com Store Card and the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card for non-Prime customers, and the Amazon Prime Store Card and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card for those customers who are Prime members.
Both non-Prime cards earn 3% back on Amazon.com purchases, and the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature also earns 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. The two Prime cards also earn a more generous reward rate of 5% on Amazon purchases.
Sign up for Amazon Prime if you haven't already
As you can see from the previous section, if you want to maximize your rewards from an Amazon credit card, you need to be a member of Amazon Prime. The service costs $10.99 per month, or $99 per year, as of this writing, so it may or may not be worth the cost based on credit card rewards alone. However, there are many other perks that could justify paying for a Prime membership. Just to name some of the main benefits of Prime membership:
- Free two-day shipping on all Prime-eligible purchases.
- Free same-day and one-day delivery on select orders.
- Access to Amazon's Prime Video service, which includes original content, as well as an impressive selection of free movies and TV shows.
- A selection of free Prime Reading options through Amazon's Kindle store.
- Unlimited music streaming
- Unlimited photo storage
- Holiday discounts (through coupons) at Whole Foods stores
With an estimated 80 million Prime members and growing, it's fair to say that many consumers have found significant value in the service. If you're an Amazon credit card customer, it just adds to the already-impressive list of perks.
Check out the Discover it® Cash Back credit card
One of the best credit cards for holiday purchases, and especially for Amazon purchases, is the Discover it® Cash Back credit card. In fact, if you don't already have the card, you could obtain a better reward rate than even the best Amazon credit card offers.
The reason for this is that the Discover it® Cash Back credit card offers 5% rewards in categories that rotate quarterly, with a cap of $1,500 per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases made. And the bonus-rewards category for the fourth quarter of 2017 includes spending at Target and Amazon, up to $1,500.
Here's where it gets good. For new cardholders, Discover matches all cash back earned during the first year of card membership, dollar for dollar. This translates to a 10% effective reward rate on up to $1,500 in Amazon purchases during the holiday shopping season.
In addition, the Discover it® Cash Back credit card offers a generous 0% intro APR period (see our updated review of the card for the most current offer), as well as free FICO score access.
The downside is the cash-back cap, which is why this card could be a good supplement to an Amazon credit card if you want to max out the value from your Amazon purchases. If you plan on spending more than $1,500 on fourth-quarter purchases at Amazon, you could maximize the value you receive by charging the first $1,500 on the Discover it® Cash Back credit card, and any excess on whichever Amazon credit card best suits your needs.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Matthew Frankel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool's alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. Review The Motley Fool’s ratings methodology to uncover how we pick the best credit cards.