Amazon (AMZN) is the place that has everything – and at cheap prices. Order it today; have it as soon as tomorrow. That kind of service has made loyalists out of many of its customers. No wonder the company brought in more than $74.45 billion in 2013. You might be one of those loyalists, but should you sign up for the Amazon Rewards Visa card?
This credit card is offered by Amazon, but Chase Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co., is the bank that backs it. Chase, like all large banks has its lovers and haters, but large banks come with advantages – easy-to-reach customer service reps and plenty of branches are just two. With $2.3 trillion in assets, more than 5,500 branches, more than 18,000 ATMs and over 160,000 employees in more than 60 countries, you don’t have to worry about dealing with a fly-by-night operation.
If you do a lot of shopping at Amazon and you’re in the market for a rewards card, this card has some attractive perks.
You earn a 3% rebate for all Amazon.com purchases; 2% at gas stations, restaurants and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases. Your rewards come in the form of points. You'll get one point for each penny you earn in rebates. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you bought an item on Amazon for $20. You would earn a 3% rebate (60 cents), which would become 60 points. Each 100 points is worth $1. Your points are available as soon as they are processed as a discount at checkout.
When you are approved for the card, Amazon will give you a $30 gift card. There is no annual fee, no earning cap and your points never expire.
The Fine Print
Balance transfers have the same APR as purchases (see The Pros And Cons Of Balance Transfers) instead of the higher one many cards impose.
You have 21 days after the end of the billing cycle to pay the balance in full to avoid any interest charges. The late payment fee is between $15 and $35 depending on your balance. You might find yourself paying the penalty APR of up to 29.99% for any late payment, spending over your limit or other violations of the card agreement.
Customers will pay $5 or 3% of the amount of a balance transfer, whichever is greater. Cash advances cost $10 or 3%, whichever is greater.
The Bottom Line
Although the card is best for people who frequently shop at Amazon, the rewards structure might make it useful even for people who only shop at Amazon infrequently. The APR is still higher than most non-retail cards, but in the retail space, this card's terms are attractive.
Remember that rewards are most valuable to people who don’t carry a balance. You can easily pay more in interest charges than the rewards are worth. Second, don’t make purchases solely to earn rewards. Saving your money and investing it will always win out over spending for rewards.