What is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card?
Owners of the Amazon Visa Signature card who were also Amazon Prime members were met with a great surprise earlier this year when they were automatically upgraded to Chase’s new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature.
This upgrade came with a pair of upgraded bonuses that make the card more interesting than its predecessor: 5% rewards on Amazon.com purchases instead of 3%, and a $70 Amazon gift card instead of $50.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member but you don’t have the Amazon Visa, is it worth it to apply for the new Prime credit card?
That’s a question we’re going to answer by looking at what the card’s short- and long-term benefits are, its fees and rates, as well as what customers are saying about the new card.
We’ll conclude this review with our overall conclusions about the Amazon Prime Rewards credit card.
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature’s Benefits
Every credit card is like a dating relationship.
The first year, you put your best foot forward, everything seems absolutely perfect and the person you’re dating seemingly has no flaws. After that first year, though, you start to see the real person behind the aura created by your love goggles.
Credit cards function the same way. They offer amazing deals the first year you own them, but once year one is done, you deal with who the card really is.
Short-Term Benefits with the Amazon Prime Rewards
The main up-front benefit of this card is the $70 Amazon gift card you’ll get as soon as you’re approved for the card. Remember, you can only be approved if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
This short-term perk is really interesting because it’s absolutely exception-free
Normally, a cash-back rewards card like this one offers nice cash bonuses of $100-$200, but those bonuses are only reached if you spend a certain amount of money in the first three months of owning the card.
Spending thresholds are also popular on travel cards, and, in general, the rule of thumb is that you’ll have to spend more to get the bigger introductory bonuses.
In our opinion, the Amazon Prime Rewards’ $70 gift card is good because it’s an instant perk; no purchase necessary. Other cash-back credit cards offer bigger cash bonuses, but it usually takes about 6-8 weeks for those rewards to show up on the cardowner’s credit card statement:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: $150 after spending $1,000
- BankAmericard Cash Rewards: $100 after spending $500
- Capital One Quicksilver: $100 after spending $500
In our opinion, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa’s up-front reward isn’t quite as lucrative as other cards, but the fact that you get the gift card on approval is a nice perk.
Long-Term Benefits of the Amazon Prime Rewards
In the world of cash-back credit cards, long-term benefits usually center on a variety of rewards percentages as well as travel/purchase protection.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Rewards Percentages
The Amazon Prime Rewards gives you rewards percentages for three different types of purchases:
- 5% cash back on purchases made with your Prime account on Amazon.com
- 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores
- 1% cash back on everything else
The 2% and 1% cash back bonuses are pretty standard for cash back cards, so there’s nothing too exciting there.
However, the fact that you get year-round 5% cash back on Amazon purchases really sets this card apart from other cash back cards.
You see, when cash back cards offer 5%, the switch the 5% categories every three months, so purchases that get 5% today won’t get 5% four months from now.
The Amazon Prime Rewards makes it simple – 5% rewards anytime you make an Amazon.com purchase.
A Quick Word About the Amazon Prime Reward’s “Cash Back”
Most cash back cards give you statement credits in the form of cash you’ve built up from rewards purchases.
The Amazon Prime Rewards is a little different. Instead of getting cash back on each purchase, you get points: 100 points for every $1, to be exact.
Those points can be used to buy things on Amazon.com, but they can also be converted to cash that’s put toward your credit card statement, too.
So, if you buy a $20 pair of sunglasses on Amazon.com, it will cost you 2,000 points. If you want to convert your points into a $20 statement credit, it will cost you 2,000 points.
Pro tip: If you choose to convert your points to a statement credit, you have to use at least 2,000 points. The idea is, however, Amazon loyalists are the ones who get this card, so they’ll probably just use their points for Amazon purchases.
How Amazon Prime Rewards Visa’s Rewards Percentages Compare to Other Store Cards
While the upside to the 5% bonus is pretty obvious (it’s a big reward!), the downside is that it’s limited to Amazon.com.
In that sense, this credit card is more like a store credit card you’d get at Target, a card that has 5% cash back on purchases made at Target or on Target.com.
Yet, the Amazon Prime Rewards has the advantage over Target and other store cards for a couple of reasons.
First, the 5%-2%-1% bonuses are unique in the store-card world. Walmart’s credit card comes close with a 3%-2%-1% structure, but that’s about it. Target’s 5% rewards are great, but they don’t offer cash back on any other purchases.
Second, since you have to be a Prime member to get this card, you have the luxury of getting two-day shipping on all Prime products and same-day shipping in 12 of the country’s 15 biggest cities.
Pro tip: Same-day shipping is limited to about 1 million of Prime’s 30 million products. Also, same-day is only free if you spend at least $35.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Travel/Shopping Protection
Many of the credit cards in Chase’s Visa Signature collection have some pretty great perks if you purchase travel or everyday items with your credit card.
The main travel protection benefits you have on the Amazon Prime are for airline baggage. If your baggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, you can be reimbursed up to $100 for any toiletries or clothes you purchase because of the delay.
Also, Amazon Prime Rewards cardholders get reimbursed up to $3,000 for any lost or damaged luggage caused by the airline carrier.
Each of these programs has specific requirements that will be included in your benefits guide mailed with your card.
The Amazon Prime Rewards has the standard set of purchase protections, which we’ll list below. Remember, purchase-related benefits only kick in if you used your card to make the purchase:
- No fraud liability: You aren’t on the hook for fraudulent purchases
- Auto rental insurance: Free insurance on car rentals
- Extended warranty: Extends item’s manufacturer warranty for one year
- Damage/theft: Reimbursement of up to $500 for stolen or damaged goods
The damage/theft reimbursement is only good up to 120 days after your purchase.
Fees and Rates on the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature
Since the Amazon Prime Rewards is a Chase credit card, the fees and rates it carries are similar to other Chase cards we’ve reviewed, like the Sapphire Preferred and the Freedom Unlimited:
- APR: 14.74%-24.74%, depending on your credit scores and credit history
- Annual fee: None
- Foreign transaction fees: None
- Penalty APR: None
- Late fees: Up to $37
- Balance transfer fees: 5% of transferred balance
Two things jump out at us in this section. First, the Amazon Prime Rewards’ lowest APR, 14.74%, is lower than most cash-back credit cards. Remember, though, that low APR is reserved for people with the best credit scores (typically 750+).
Second, the card’s 5% balance transfer fee is higher than the usual 3% most cards charge. Our advice? Don’t use this card for balance transfers.
We’d also like to point out that the Amazon Prime Rewards doesn’t have an annual fee, but you’ll have to have an Amazon Prime membership ($99/year) in order to get this card.
We don’t consider the Prime fee as part of this card’s offer because most people with the card already had Prime when Amazon rolled it out.
Would we recommend this card to someone who doesn’t have a Prime membership? Probably not, unless you know you’ll get plenty of use out of your Prime membership.
An Expert’s Opinion About the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature
One of the most interesting articles we read about the launch of the Amazon Prime Rewards came from Forbes.
“Amazon has a new credit card that promises big rewards,” contributor Laurel Heller wrote, “and takes aim at Costco’s loyal customer base.”
She went on to say the card’s 5% rewards for Amazon purchases and other benefits “put Amazon’s card right up there with the popular Chase Sapphire card making it one of the best in the market for benefits.”
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Isn’t the Best Credit Card, But It’s a Great Cash-Back Card
In our opinion, Forbes gets a little too zealous in their claim that this card’s benefits are on par with the Sapphire Preferred. The cards appeal to two totally different customer bases.
Avid Amazon fans may find great use out of the card, especially when it comes time to make Christmas purchases. However, if you don’t use Amazon a lot and prefer local stores, then this cards best benefit – 5% cash back – is pretty much useless.
The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, gives you points for every purchase you make, no matter which store you make them at. Those points can then be used to buy travel through Chase or transferred 1:1 to frequent flyer and loyalty programs of major airlines and hotels.
While we’re not willing to say the Amazon Prime is the best card on the market, we are willing to place it at the top of the list of cash-back rewards cards.
Our Final Thoughts About the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
In our opinion, the Amazon Prime Rewards is an excellent choice for anyone who does the majority of their shopping at Amazon.com.
The 5% rewards you get from Amazon.com purchases put this card at the top of the store credit card pile along with Target.
However, it’s the 2% cash rewards at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores, and the 1% on everything else that make this card the premier store credit card available to consumers.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that Amazon’s Prime Visa comes with a host of shopping and travel protections that you don’t’ get with the typical store credit card. These benefits make the Amazon Prime Rewards more of a cash back rewards card than a store card.
And it’s precisely this intersection of store and non-store benefits that makes the Amazon Prime Rewards such a versatile and useful card.
However, that doesn’t mean that Amazon Prime members should automatically sign up for this card.
Anytime you consider getting a new credit card, you should take a moment to think about where you spend your money.
If you’re making weekly or daily purchases on Amazon.com, this card could be a great fit for you since you probably already have a Prime membership.
If you don’t use Amazon a lot and want to get this card on a whim, we think there are other cards out there that are a better fit for you. The $99 Prime membership fee is too steep a price to pay for a service you might not use a lot.
Consider reading through our reviews of the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Discover it cards. Both offer some decent rewards rates that could net you nearly $500 your first year owning the card.
We’ve also created a really informative credit card section on our website that will give you all the tools you need to make a good decision about your next credit card, as well as how to maximize rewards and avoid costly fees and penalties.