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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way we work, shop and live. So when NerdWallet's credit cards team began the process of choosing our Best-Of Awards for 2021, we decided we needed a new category — one that would allow us to consider and recognize credit cards that reward our new routines, from shopping online to getting groceries delivered and more.
After much research and debate, we settled on the new category name: Best Card for Staying at Home. And the inaugural 2021 winner is the Prime Visa.
Rewarding at-home routines
The $0-annual-fee Prime Visa offers 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods, and both of those retailers offer grocery delivery options that also earn 5% back.
On top of that, the card earns 2% back at restaurants — which applies to delivery or takeout purchases made directly from those eateries — as well as 2% back at gas stations and drugstores. All other purchases earn 1% back.
Even in normal times, those are good rewards rates. But amid a pandemic, when many shoppers are largely opting for meal/grocery delivery or curbside pickup, this card can be an invaluable tool.
But not just for the delivery of meals or the items needed to make meals. Whether you’re sending gifts to family, stocking up on toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, or ordering your next stack of books, you can earn 5% back on all those purchases through Amazon as well.
More of a cinephile than a bookworm? Well, while streaming isn't technically a bonus category for this card, there's an indirect way you can earn 5% back on your viewing habits: Use the card to pay for your Amazon Prime membership. (Membership is required to get this card; more on that below.) You'll earn 5% back on the fee for that membership, which opens up a whole world of video and music streaming.
Rewards with this card are easy to redeem. They come in the form of points worth one penny each, and you can put them toward Amazon purchases or redeem for cash back, travel or gift cards.
A membership fee with benefits
While the Prime Visa doesn’t come with an annual fee, it does require Amazon Prime membership, which costs $119 a year. (EDITOR'S NOTE: As of February 2022, the annual cost of an Amazon Prime membership rose to $139 a year.)
If you're not already a heavy Amazon user, that's a steep price to pay to realize any benefit from this card.
And it's worth noting that other store cards with some comparable perks — such as the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® and the Target REDcard™ Credit Card — don’t require such membership or fees.
But an Amazon Prime membership arguably confers far more at-home benefits, which those other competitors cannot match: Amazon Prime Video for streaming entertainment, free two-day shipping (or faster) on most items, Amazon Music Prime and a lot more. It’s a similar model to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers impressive rewards and no annual fee but requires a Costco membership (starting at $60 a year).
As with most rewards credit cards, and especially store-branded ones, the ongoing APR can be quite high. If you’re carrying a balance month to month, there are other cards available with lower APRs.
Should you get it?
If Amazon isn't your go-to retailer, you can get similar value from other store-branded cards that either don't require a membership or charge less for one.
But if you're already paying the Prime membership fee — and well more than 100 million U.S. Prime users are — the Prime Visa is a no-brainer, especially if you find yourself ordering more than ever online from the comfort of your home.
It’s a trend that's likely to continue even post-pandemic.
» MORE: Full review of the Prime Visa
Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuers of these cards.