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The best credit card for people who love shopping on Amazon

Twenty/20

More than 40% of online shoppers buy from Amazon at least once a month, according to a recent poll from NPR.

If you're one of them, you might have seen promotions for an Amazon credit card. The mega online retailer offers four types of credit cards. CNBC Select crunched the numbers to determine which of these options provides the biggest benefit to frequent shoppers.

Our No. 1 pick is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Although this card requires users to have an eligible Amazon Prime membership ($119 annually, or $12.99 a month), the company's branded credit card offers the highest rewards return: 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market. Since Amazon Prime has 100 million subscribers and is growing, many people already meet this requirement.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down Amazon's four credit cards to help you choose the best card for your needs.

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Amazon Store Card
  • Amazon Prime Store Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
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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.
  • Annual fee

    $0, but a Prime membership is required ($119 annually, or $12.99 per month)

  • 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

    $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    15.99% to 23.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year

    $507*

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,253

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $70 Amazon gift card upon approval, with no spending requirements
  • High 5% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods Market
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Prime membership is required
  • The 5% back on groceries only applies to groceries bought on Amazon or at Whole Foods Market

Who's this for? The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, offered through Chase, rewards users with the highest unlimited cash-back rate of the Amazon branded credit cards CNBC Select analyzed. For all purchases made by Prime members at Amazon and Whole Foods, you get a robust 5% cash back. That's one of the key reasons this card was our No. 1 pick overall for online shopping.

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

Who's this for? The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, offered through Chase, rewards users with the highest unlimited cash-back rate of the Amazon branded credit cards CNBC Select analyzed. For all purchases made by Prime members at Amazon and Whole Foods, you get a robust 5% cash back. That's one of the key reasons this card was our No. 1 pick overall for online shopping.

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

If you're debating whether an Amazon Prime membership is worth the money, this card could help you decide: As a welcome bonus, cardholders can get a $70 Amazon.com gift card that helps to offset the $119 annual membership.

Amazon Prime membership gives you access to a number of perks, including free two-day shipping, access to Prime Video and exclusive discounts at Whole Foods.

That said, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card doesn't have the most competitive welcome bonus, and you can do better than 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores with other rewards cards if those are big spending areas for you.

*First year rewards total incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus. When we calculated the returns for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, we assumed the cardholder would do 75% of their grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market; 25% of their clothing and housekeeping supplies shopping at Amazon. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

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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.

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
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Information about the Amazon 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.
  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards

    3% 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

    $50 Amazon.com gift card upon approval

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    16.24% to 24.24%

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year

    $397*

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $1,784

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No Prime membership required
  • $50 Amazon gift card upon approval, with no spending requirements
  • 3% back at Amazon and Whole Foods Market
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • The 3% back on groceries only applies to groceries bought on Amazon or at Whole Foods Market

Who's this for? If you don't have an Amazon Prime membership but still frequently use the website to shop, another option is the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card. This credit card does not require a Prime membership and still offers 3% back at Amazon and Whole Foods, along with the 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.

New cardholders get a $50 Amazon gift card once their application is approved. Cardholders can also benefit from no foreign transaction fees and select travel benefits, such as travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and lost luggage reimbursement.

Who's this for? If you don't have an Amazon Prime membership but still frequently use the website to shop, another option is the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card. This credit card does not require a Prime membership and still offers 3% back at Amazon and Whole Foods, along with the 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.

New cardholders get a $50 Amazon gift card once their application is approved. Cardholders can also benefit from no foreign transaction fees and select travel benefits, such as travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and lost luggage reimbursement.

If you later decide to become a Prime member, you'll be upgraded to the Prime version of this card.

*First year rewards total incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus. When we calculated the returns for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, we assumed the cardholder would do 75% of their grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market; 25% of their clothing and housekeeping supplies shopping at Amazon. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

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Information about the Amazon 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.

Amazon.com Store Card

Amazon.com Store Card
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Information about the Amazon Store Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    $10 Amazon gift card upon approval

  • Intro APR

    Pay no interest on all Amazon purchases of $150 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 6, 12 or 24 months

  • Variable APR

    27.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Not applicable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    Not applicable

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $10 Amazon gift card upon approval, with no spending requirements
  • Various promotional financing offers

Cons

  • Deferred interest means you have to pay all interest you incurred during the intro period if you don’t pay your balance in full before it ends
  • No rewards program
  • This card can only be used at Amazon
  • High APR

Who's this for? If you're not a Prime member but still looking to make a big purchase on Amazon, the Amazon.com Store Card, offered through Synchrony, gives you access to interest-free financing for 6, 12, or 24 months.

Special financing

Who's this for? If you're not a Prime member but still looking to make a big purchase on Amazon, the Amazon.com Store Card, offered through Synchrony, gives you access to interest-free financing for 6, 12, or 24 months.

Special financing

•  Pay no interest on Amazon.com purchases of $150 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 6 months.

•  Pay no interest on Amazon.com purchases of $600 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 12 months.

•  Pay no interest on select Amazon.com purchases of $800 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 24 months.

Equal monthly payments

•  Make equal monthly payments for 6 months on Amazon.com purchases of $150 or more and pay no interest.

•  Make equal monthly payments for 12 months on Amazon.com purchases of $600 or more and pay no interest.

•  Make equal monthly payments for 24 months on select Amazon.com purchases of $600 or more and pay no interest.

During the special financing period, you're still required to make at least the minimum monthly payment. In order to get the full benefit, you need to pay off the entire balance before the intro period ends, or else you'll incur all the interest you accrued during the 6-, 12- or 24-month period (known as deferred interest). Once the intro period ends, there's a high 28.24% variable APR.

There are not any cash-back rewards for spending, but you can get a $10 Amazon gift card once you are approved for a credit card.

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Information about the Amazon Store Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Store Card

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

    $0, but a Prime membership is required ($119 annually, or $12.99 per month)

  • Rewards

    5% cash back at Amazon

  • Welcome bonus

    $10 Amazon gift card upon approval

  • Intro APR

    Pay no interest on all Amazon.com purchases of $150 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 6, 12 or 24 months.

  • Variable APR

    27.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Not applicable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    Not applicable

  • Estimated cash back earned after one year

    $234*

  • Estimated cash back earned after five years

    $1,120

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $10 Amazon.com gift card upon approval, with no spending requirements
  • High 5% back at Amazon.com
  • Various promotional financing offers

Cons

  • Deferred interest means you have to pay all interest you incurred during the intro period if you don’t pay your balance in full before it ends
  • Prime membership is required
  • The 5% back only applies to Amazon.com purchases
  • This card can only be used at Amazon

Who's this for? The Amazon Prime Store Card, available to those with a Prime membership, has the same promotional financing offers as the Amazon Store Card above, as well as cash-back rewards.

With this card, you can earn 5% back on Amazon.com purchases but, unlike with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, you do not earn cash back at Whole Foods, restaurants, gas stations, drugstores or any other purchase.

Who's this for? The Amazon Prime Store Card, available to those with a Prime membership, has the same promotional financing offers as the Amazon Store Card above, as well as cash-back rewards.

With this card, you can earn 5% back on Amazon.com purchases but, unlike with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, you do not earn cash back at Whole Foods, restaurants, gas stations, drugstores or any other purchase.

Cardholders have to choose between earning 5% back or using a promotional financing period. For example, if you purchase a 65-inch flat screen TV for $900, you're eligible for a financing plan in which you would not pay interest for two years. But if you take advantage of the financing, you wouldn't receive the 5% cash-back reward (worth $45) on that $900 purchase.

*First year rewards total incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus. When we calculated the returns for the Amazon Prime Store Card, we assumed the cardholder would do 75% of their grocery shopping and 25% of their clothing and housekeeping supplies shopping at Amazon. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

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

Our methodology

To determine which Amazon card will put the most money back in your pocket, CNBC Select compared the four Amazon cards on a range of features, including cash-back rewards, annual fee, 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.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming cash back for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Benefits Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card Amazon Store Card Amazon Prime Store Card
Annual fee$0 $0 $0 $0
Prime membership requiredYesNoNoYes
APR16.24% to 24.24%16.24% to 24.24%28.24%28.24%
Rewards5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1% back on all other purchases3% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1% back on all other purchasesNone5% cash back at Amazon.com
Welcome bonus$70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval$50 Amazon.com gift card upon approval$10 Amazon.com gift card upon approval$10 Amazon.com gift card upon approval
Special financing offerNoneNonePay no interest on all Amazon.com purchases of $150 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 6, 12 or 24 months. Terms apply.Pay no interest on all Amazon.com purchases of $150 or more if the entire purchase amount is paid in full within 6, 12 or 24 months. Terms apply.
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.