Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping

Our objective rating of the best credit cards to use online

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There are numerous rewards credit cards on the market, but many provide special benefits for online shopping based on their rewards programs and security features. The best credit cards for online shopping offer both top-notch online security features and compelling rewards for online shopping. This list represents our top rated cards across a number of categories, all driven by our rating methodology, comprehensive card database and proprietary points valuation models. We focus on highlighting the best cards possible and do not give any preference to cards from which we may receive compensation. These are the cards we'd recommend to our family and friends, and they're the same ones we're recommending to you.

Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping for July 2020:

  • Discover it Cash Back: Best First Year Earnings, Best for Holiday Shopping
  • Bank of America Cash Back Rewards: Best for Flexibility
  • Capital One Walmart Mastercard: Best for Walmart, Best for Online Grocery Orders
  • Costco Anywhere Visa: Best for Costco
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature: Best for Amazon and Whole Foods Market

Best First Year Earnings, Best for Online Holiday Shopping

Discover it® Cash Back

Rating as a Card for Online Shopping
4.8
Discover it® Cash Back
Full Review
Apply Now
On Discover's Website

Current Offer:

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 14 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% if completed by September 10, 2020, and up to 5% for transfers made thereafter.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Discover it Cash Back card is our choice for the best online shopping card in terms of its first year cash back (which is doubled in year one) and because it offers 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases during the fourth quarter of 2020 (up to $1,500 in spending). The doubling of the first year cash back can equate to 10% back on Amazon purchases Oct - Dec. 2020.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding cash-back rewards on select categories
    • First-year cash-back rewards are matched
    • Decent 0% introductory offer on purchases and eligible balance transfers

    Cons

    • Limited options for high-rate rewards
    • Categories must be activated
    • Relatively few benefits
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
    • Earn 5% cash back on your everday purchases at different places each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
    • No annual fee.
    • See if you're pre-approved – with no harm to your credit to check.

Best for Flexibility

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rating as a Card for Online Shopping
4.7
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Bank of America's Website

Current Offer:

Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Billing Cycles
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Bank of America Cash Back card offers bonus cash back on an eligible category of your choice, which can include online shopping portals - making it our pick for the card offering the best online rewards flexibility. This can allow cardholders to earn rich rewards on Amazon and other online purchases throughout the year. The bonus category spending is capped but can still provide a strong return on online spending if used strategically.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous cash-back rewards
    • Easily earned bonus offer for new cardholders
    • No annual fee
    • Fairly generous introductory 0% APR offer

    Cons

    • Spending caps on premium rewards earnings
    • Limited Redemption Options
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.
    • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings.
    • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.

Best for Walmart.com, Best for Online Groceries

Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard

Rating as a Card for Online Shopping
3.5
Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard
Full Review
Apply Now
On Capital One's Website

Current Offer:

Earn 5% back in Walmart stores for the first 12 months when you use your Capital One Walmart Rewards Card with Walmart Pay - the quick and secure way to pay with your phone at Walmart.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% at Walmart.com, the Walmart app, and on Walmart grocery pickup and delivery. Earn 2% back on purchases at Walmart stores, Walmart & Murphy USA Fuel Stations, and on dining and travel purchases. Earn 1% back on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee $0 for transfers at the standard APR.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    We chose the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard as the best card for Walmart.com because of its lucrative 5% cash back rewards program for Walmart.com and Walmart App purchases including Walmart groceries ordered online and available for curbside pickup. For those who seek low prices and favor shopping at Walmart this card can deliver a valuable return on digital spending.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • High rewards on Walmart purchases online and in the first year
    • No caps on rewards at the highest rates

    Cons

    • The high Walmart in-store rewards are short-lived
    • Strong credit is recommended
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Introductory offer - Earn 5% back in Walmart stores for the first 12 months when you use your Capital One Walmart Rewards Card with Walmart Pay.
    • 5% back at Walmart.com, the Walmart app, and on grocery pickup and delivery.
    • 2% back at Walmart stores, Walmart & Murphy USA Fuel Stations, and for restaurant and travel purchases.
    • 1% back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted.

Best for Wholesale Clubs

Costco Anywhere Visa®

Rating as a Card for Online Shopping
3.3
Costco Anywhere Visa®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.24% variable
Annual Fee $0 with your paid Costco membership
Rewards Earning Rate 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year; 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Costco Anywhere Visa card is our choice for best online shopping card for wholesales clubs because of its unlimited 2% cash back rewards through Costco.com and in-store purchases. Executive club members also earn an additional 2% cash back as part of their membership terms.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding rewards on gas
    • Comparable restaurant and travel rewards to top travel rewards cards
    • Rewards not limited to Costco spending
    • No annual fee with a paid Costco membership

    Cons

    • Limited cash back redemption options
    • Card membership linked to a paid Costco membership
    • Cap on gas rewards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 4% on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
    • 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide
    • 2% on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
    • 1% on all other purchases
    • No matter where life takes you, experience no foreign transaction fees on purchases.
    • Plus, there's no annual fee with your paid Costco membership.

Best for Amazon, Best for Whole Foods Market

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rating as a Card for Online Shopping
3.3
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Chase's Website

Current Offer:

Get a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.24% - 22.24% variable
Annual Fee $0, Prime Membership Required
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods market with an eligible prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    We chose the Amazon Prime Visa Signature card as our pick for best online shopping rewards from Amazon.com and Whole Foods groceries due to its unlimited 5% cash back rewards for purchase from the website and online grocery orders for those with an eligible Amazon Prime membership.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • No annual fee
    • 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases
    • Easy redemption while shopping
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Requires a paid Amazon Prime membership
    • No 0% APR introductory offer
    • Low one-time offer
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.
    • Earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores.
    • Earn 1% back on all other purchases.
    • You can redeem your rewards every day toward millions of items when you shop at Amazon.com. During checkout, you can use your rewards to pay for part or all of your purchase. There’s no minimum rewards balance to redeem. 100 points = $1.00 when redeemed toward eligible purchases.
    • Plus, there is no annual credit card fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no earnings caps!

What is an Online Shopping Credit Card?

While all credit cards can be used to shop online, some are better suited than others for this type of purchase activity. There isn’t such a thing as a pure online shopping card, but there are many that offer better protections and incentives in the form of cash back, points, or miles.

Using a credit card to shop online is safer than other options, such as a debit card tied to a checking account, because credit cards have more consumer protections under the law. Many card issuers go beyond the requirements of the law to offer additional safeguards against fraud and unauthorized use.  

The credit card networks (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express) provide $0 liability coverage for any and all unauthorized purchases. Debit cards—both those tied to checking accounts and prepaid debit cards—don’t offer this level of protection, unless transactions are processed as a credit at the point of sale instead of as a debit. A consumer’s liability with a debit card is generally limited to $50 if they notify their bank or issuer within two business days of card loss or fraud, which is a much more strict requirement compared with credit cards.

Online shopping for merchandise and food delivery (both for groceries and take-out orders) was already growing exponentially before the COVID-19 pandemic and is now a critical part of life. With that in mind, we've reviewed the rewards cards currently in the market to find the ones that offer the best combination of rewards earning opportunities and online shopping protections. 

What Should You Consider in an Online Shopping Card?

These are the critical factors we think you should consider when evaluating credit cards for online shopping.

Protection from unauthorized use

Almost all credit cards offer $0 liability protection for unauthorized purchases, but it’s still important to verify that in the terms and conditions before applying. Even for cards that don’t offer this protection, federal law limits losses resulting from credit card fraud to $50, so at least there is a backstop in place to protect consumers if they are victims of fraud. While these protections cover offline transactions as well online ones, they are especially important for online transactions, which often entail greater fraud risk for the consumer.

Texts for unusual activity

This customer service security feature can alert you immediately should your card be used without your permission or knowledge.

Online chat

Being able to easily communicate with a customer service representative is important for quickly resolving any security concerns. 

Ability to freeze or lock your account

This feature lets you lock down your credit account so no one can use it, in case you believe it has been compromised.

Virtual card numbers

Some issuers offer virtual card numbers for one-time use. That can provide a virtually impenetrable level of security when shopping online, and can be especially useful when you’re shopping on smaller or international websites that may not follow the latest security protocols.

Bonus rewards for online spending

Before selecting a card for online shopping check to see how it would reward you for your existing online spending patterns. The best cards for online shopping provide bonus rewards for purchases made with certain online retailers or in particular spending categories.

Access to online shopping portals

Some card issuers have created online shopping portals that provide extra rebates or discounts for merchandise and services.

How Should You Use a Credit Card Online?

As most of us know by now, online shopping is tremendously convenient, and the widespread advent of free shipping has made it all the more economical. However, it also requires taking some extra precautions.

While it's tempting to store your credit card details on the secure sites of your favorite online retailers, that can expose you to undue risk if the retailer’s server is ever compromised. Some of the biggest data breaches in recent history have exposed shoppers’ personal information, including sensitive credit card data, and this information ends up for sale to the highest bidder on the dark web.

When appropriate, also consider using a virtual card number, as described above, if your card issuer offers that option.

Methodology

Information Gathering

In order to track and assess the U.S. domestic credit card market, we gather scores of data points on more than 300 cards. This data is collected manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. 

To ensure our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools that monitor changes in such key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees and card benefits. We then rapidly make any needed updates to our card listings, reviews, and recommendations to ensure that readers have the most reliable information and advice. 

Initial Scoring

Once we collect credit card data we organize it in our database according to features, which roll up into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits and Security/Customer Service). Each individual card feature is assigned a star rating score on a 1 to 5 scale using a formula. For instance, for a one-time bonus score we would use a formula like (if bonus is $500 or greater, then assign a score of 5; if $300-$499 then 4, and so forth). Weighting of scores. Once all of each card’s features have received a score we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for each card (according to the general category in which it resides, such as travel rewards). 

This weighting process allows us to assign significantly more emphasis to the attributes important to a particular category, and downplay those that are less relevant to it. That allows us to objectively identify cards that stand out in their category, and why they do. For example, we apply significantly higher weight to such travel-specific features as airport lounge access or primary rental car insurance than we do to attributes such as interest rates or fees that might be more strongly considered for other categories, such as balance-transfer cards.

Earnings rates

Another critical factor we consider when rating and ranking travel cards and other types of rewards cards are the cards’ effective earnings rates. We first calculate the average value of points or miles for all the rewards cards in our database, a painstaking process that entails collecting all airline fare data by carrier across scores of popular domestic and international city-pairs along with per-night hotel charges at all major hotel brands. 

The required points and miles for air travel or hotel stays from the various reward programs is then used to calculate an effective earnings rate for each card. That allows our readers to make the most informed choices. By putting a card’s large one-time bonus or earnings rates into context across many dimensions and card features, they can more readily weigh the card’s benefits relative to its costs. Uncovering the true but often opaque redemption value of rewards points or miles is, we feel, the only reliable way to make cogent choices among competing value-based cards.  

Card Features We Score

As mentioned in our methodology explanation, we place significant weight on certain travel-related features in determining our ratings for each card. Specifically, we place over 50% of our overall assessment score on the combination of the following factors:  

  • Maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • Initial card spending required to earn any bonus.
  • Redemption value of the bonus miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance, as detailed by the four card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover).
  • Options to redeem points or miles with travel partners, both airline and hotel.

Another consideration are the cards’ coverage, if any, in these travel-related areas: 

  • Car-rental collision insurance, whether primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Cell phone loss or damage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General, non-travel related features that we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including both introductory and regular APRs for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including those for annual membership, late payments, cash advances and foreign transactions.
  • Security/customer service features.
  • Other non-travel benefits, such as free credit scores, ID theft protection and contactless payment capability.

How We Reach Our Final Assessments

We rely mostly on the objective scores created by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best travel rewards credit card, as well as the ones deemed best for one-time bonuses and as co-branded airline and hotel choices. 

However, we may make some adjustments from time to time, to both features and weightings that could affect rankings, which can be influenced by subjective input from our credit card experts. Any potential modifications will be consistent with Investopedia’s belief that consumers are best served by travel cards that:

  • Provide superior value in earning awards travel.
  • Charge reasonable interest rates in the event that balances are carried month to month.
  • Charge fewer and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the number and quality of customer service features
  • Have helpful and protective security features.