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For Amazon loyalists, applying for an Amazon-branded credit card that rewards you for your spending is a no-brainer. And thanks to the company's diverse suite of credit cards, you will be able to earn rewards on your online shopping no matter your credit score.
For those with excellent credit, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers the highest rewards rates on the most purchases. But shoppers with average or thin credit will still fare well with the brand's closed-loop card, the Amazon.com Store Card, which is issued by Synchrony and comes in two versions (more on this below).
The card doesn't have an annual fee, though you’ll want to have Amazon Prime to take advantage of the perks. So casual Amazon shoppers who aren’t tied to their Prime membership will probably be better off applying for a different cash-back credit card.
Here are five things to know about the Amazon.com Store Card:
1. There are two versions of the store card
When you apply, the card you get — and the perks you can access — depends on whether or not you have a Prime membership. Prime members will get the Amazon.com Prime Store Card. If you’re not a Prime member, you’ll get the standard version of the card, which offers no cash-back rewards.
If you begin a Prime membership after applying for this card, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the Prime version. Conversely, if you let your membership lapse, your card will automatically be downgraded to the standard version.
2. You can only use the cards for Amazon purchases
Both versions of the Amazon Store Card are closed-loop, which means they can only be used at amazon.com, Amazon-owned businesses (including Audible, Amazon Bookstore, Amazon Web Services and comixology.com), and places that accept Amazon Pay.
You won’t be able to use the cards at Whole Foods. For that, you'd need the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, which gives Prime members 5% back on Whole Foods purchases. But, as previously stated, you need excellent credit to qualify, making it harder to get.
If earning rewards at Whole Foods is your goal, a flat-rate credit card or one that rewards you for grocery purchases would be a better way to go.
If you have a good credit score, you could try a card like the $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which usually requires a FICO score of 690 or above. It offers 3% back on purchases at grocery stores, as well as on dining, entertainment and streaming services.
Or, if you’re working on building credit, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It has a $39 annual fee but requires only average credit (a FICO score between 630 and 689). Plus, you’ll earn 1.5% back on every purchase.
3. Prime members earn lucrative rewards
As long as you’re signed into your Amazon Prime account, you'll get 5% back on all purchases made with your associated Amazon.com Store Card. Without a Prime membership, you won’t earn any cash-back rewards. The 5% back will be especially valuable for Prime shoppers who purchase a majority of their household goods on the website, or who buy big-ticket items like televisions and video game consoles.
The rewards you earn can be applied to your account in the form of a statement credit or used toward eligible purchases when you check out. Cardholders also get access to an extra 5% to 15% in rewards on select promotional items.
4. You’ll get a small introductory bonus
Once you’re approved, you’ll instantly get a $10 Amazon gift card (as of September 2021). This is a nice addition, but it’s likely not going to be as valuable as sign-up bonuses from other store cards.
Shoppers looking for a card to help offset the cost of a major purchase might be better off choosing a store card with an introductory discount on their first purchase. Take the Lowe's Advantage Card, for instance: When you sign up, you'll get a one-time 20% discount on your purchase, up to $100 off. If you're shopping for a new appliance or other large item, you’ll have the potential to earn a much bigger introductory bonus with a card like this.
Still, if you have Prime and do the majority of your shopping on Amazon, the ongoing rewards will likely outweigh any short-term savings you'd get with a different store card.
5. Financing options are available, but proceed with caution
These cards offer several 0% financing deals for larger purchases. Instead of 5% back, you can choose a payment plan for certain purchases over $150. Depending on how much you spend, you could qualify for a payment plan lasting six to 24 months. You can choose between equal monthly payments or special financing.
The equal monthly payments plan gives you the ability to split your purchase across multiple statement cycles without paying interest — as long as you pay each payment on time and in full.
With special financing, you won't have any required monthly payments beyond your minimum payment. And as long as you pay off the entire balance before the promotional period is up, you won't have to pay any interest.
This seems like a good deal, but it can be a little risky if you're not completely sure you'll be able to pay off the purchase before the 0% interest period runs out. That's because this offer comes with deferred interest. Interest will still accrue in the background, even though you won't have to pay it during the promotional period. If you pay off the purchase before the special financing period has ended, you won't have to pay this interest. But if you still have a balance at the end of the period, you'll be charged the full amount of interest on the entire purchase — not just what's left over.
This could leave you on the hook for much more interest than you were expecting, especially considering the stated APR was a whopping 25.99%, as of September 2021. So If you choose special financing for a purchase, be absolutely sure you can pay it off in time.
For more card options, check out NerdWallet's list of the best credit card deals.