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Amazon Offers 2% Rewards, No Credit Card Needed

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Getting 2% rewards on every purchase used to be a deal that only the most generous credit cards offered. Now, for a limited time, Amazon is offering that same rewards rate to Prime customers who add money to their gift card balance using a feature called Amazon Reload.

The catch: You have to add money by using your debit card or bank account — not with a credit card — to get those 2% rewards. That raises a question: Are Amazon Prime customers better off paying for purchases with a rewards credit card or by using the Amazon Reload option? Here’s why a credit card is usually the smarter option:

  • You could get more rewards with the right card. Both the Amazon Prime Store Card and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offer 5% back on Amazon purchases. As long as you don’t carry a balance on these accounts, the rewards are far richer than those available through Amazon Reload.
  • You’ll get more consumer protections. With credit cards, you generally can dispute charges for purchases that you’re dissatisfied with, even if the merchant doesn’t grant a refund. Gift cards don’t offer such protection. Also, if fraudsters drain your gift card balance, they’re taking your money, which may be time-consuming and challenging to get back. Credit card fraud, by contrast, puts the issuer’s money at risk rather than your own.
  • You won’t have to tie up your money. When you put a big chunk of cash into your Amazon gift card balance for future spending, you’re basically giving Amazon an interest-free loan. With a credit card, you can keep that money in your own pocket until you actually make a purchase and pay for it.

To be sure, Amazon Reload could be a money-saver if poor credit prevents you from qualifying for a credit card with high rewards or if you’ve sworn off credit cards. Just avoid adding more funds than you plan to use.

The 2% rewards on reloads is a limited time offer that’s “good while supplies last,” according to Amazon’s terms.

The maximum amount you can load at any one time is $2,000, and Amazon limits rewards to no more than $196 a day.  For more information about how to get these rewards, visit the Amazon Reload website.

Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.