Money

Should you get an Amazon Prime Rewards credit card? Here are the pros and cons

Amazon now offers a number of credit cards, including ones designed for small business owners and others to help you maximize rewards. The e-commerce giant even offers a Store Card strictly for use on Amazon purchases, distinguished by its promotional financing offer, which allows cardholders to pay for large purchases over time without interest.

With so many different credit cards to choose from, many shoppers are left wondering which, if any, might be worth getting.

The card that will best suit most consumers is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Its main appeal is its offer of 5 percent back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, but it tacks on a whole lot more. The only drawback is that it's exclusive to Prime members, who must pay $119 per year for membership.

Here's a comprehensive breakdown of the card's details to help you decide whether it's right for you.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, issued through Chase, has some enticing rewards: 5 percent back on purchases you make on Amazon and at Whole Foods, as well as 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and qualifying drug stores, plus 1 percent on all other purchases. When you sign up, Amazon also throws in a $70 gift card bonus.

Users receive benefits from the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and some travel coverage, including a damage waiver on auto rentals. There's no foreign transaction fee, so you're free to use it outside the U.S. without paying extra.

Be wary of carrying a balance since its APR is relatively high. And although the card technically doesn't have an annual fee, it is, as we mentioned, exclusive to those who pay for Prime membership, which now costs $119 per year.

If you decide the Prime membership isn't worth its fee, you can still qualify for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card. This card has a similar structure as the Prime Rewards card, except it only offers 3 percent back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods, not 5 percent, and a $50 gift card bonus rather than a $70 bonus.

The Prime Rewards card is the better option if you're spending more than $5,950 per year on Amazon and at Whole Foods. At that level of spending, the extra 2 percent back exceeds the Prime membership fee. Prime offers a number of other perks, though, including free two-day shipping on Amazon goods, Prime streaming benefits and free Whole Foods delivery in select cities, and many Amazon shoppers decide membership is worth the cost, with or without the credit card.

If you're not someone who shops at Amazon enough to justify the subscription to Prime, you'd probably benefit more from another credit card. The Chase Freedom, for example, is CNBC Make It's No. 1 cash back card overall, since it offers 5 percent back on categories that rotate every quarter. The Capital One Venture, meanwhile, our No. 1 travel card, offers 10 points on purchase at Hotels.com/Venture, plus a flat rate of 2 points back on all other purchases.

That said, some of the Prime Rewards card's benefits are unique: No other card offers such a high return for spending at both Amazon and Whole Foods. The Discover It Cashback Match offers 5 percent back on purchases at Amazon, but only during one quarter of 2018. As for the Whole Foods benefit, the Blue Cash Preferred has a competitive offer — 6 percent cash back on groceries year-round — but it also requires a $95 annual fee.

All things considered, if you're someone who shops a lot on Amazon and/or if Whole Foods is your go-to grocer, it's worth considering one of the Amazon Rewards cards — especially if you're a Prime member.

Prime Rewards card at a glance:

  • Rewards: 5 percent back on Amazon and at Whole Foods, 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and qualifying drug stores, 1 percent on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $119 Amazon Prime membership
  • Bonus: $70 Amazon gift card
  • Variable APR: 15.74 to 23.74 percent based on your credit score
  • How you redeem points: Redeem for Amazon credit during check-out or redeem for cash back or gift cards through Chase
  • Notable perks: Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection; travel coverage; no foreign transaction fee

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