Popular Cards for Amazon Purchase

This article attempts to compile a list of popular cards that earn high miles, points, or cashback on amazon purchases or purchase of amazon gift cards via third party. I have only included cards that I believe give about 5% return to say the least. Some of these cards earn 5x only on certain quarter while others offer 5% throughout the year. For the sake of completion, I have also included discontinued cards that continue to be great cards for amazon related purchases.

Quarterly rotating category – Q4

Chase Freedom and Discover IT generally offer 5% on Amazon in Q4 of every year. Last year (2015) Freedom offered 10% on Amazon. There is a rumor floating around that Freedom might offer 10% again this year. Both cards earn 5% on up to 1.5k purchase in 5% category.

  1. Discover IT doubles all cashback earned in your first year of holding the card. In essence, 5% on Amazon can be 10% at the end of the first year.
  2. Chase Freedom earns UR points which can be cashed out 1:1. However, if you hold a premium card, you can transfer these points to a travel partner or directly book travel through UR portal.

An important thing to note is that in some quarter these cards offer 5% on grocery store, gas stations, etc. In such case, it is possible to grab amazon gift cards from 5% earning stores.

All year around

  1. US Bank Cash+ quarterly allows you to select categories of your choice. One of the 5% earning category is “bookstore” and amazon happens to be coded as a bookstore. You can earn 5% on purchases up to 2k. Do note that sometimes some purchases (possibly the ones sold by 3rd party) occasionally don’t qualify for 5%. But also note that buying amazon gift card at amazon will always qualify for 5%.
  2. Amazon Store Card offers 5% cashback for Amazon prime members. This is not a credit card.
  3. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) offers 3x TYP on amazon purchases.

 The discontinued beast

Earlier this year, legacy forward was nerfed. Up until then Forward for me was the best card for amazon purchases. Now, among the discontinued cards there only remains one that still earns 5% on amazon purchases – Barclays Sallie Mae.

  • It earns 5% on first 750 spent each month at amazon each.
  • It earns 5% on first 250 spent each month at grocery stores. You can buy amazon gift cards at grocery store.
  • It earns 5% on first 250 spent each month at gas stations. You can buy amazon gift cards at gas stations.

Buy gift cards at office stores

Some business cards offer bonus multiplier on office stores (example include Staples and Office Max). You can buy amazon gift cards at these stores and later add the gift card to your amazon account.

  1. Chase Ink Plus (AF 95) earns 5x UR on first 50k spent at office store and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Same holds true for Chase Ink Cash (no AF) except the limit is capped at 25k.
  2. Amex SimplyCash Plus earns 5% cashback on first 50k spent at US office supply store. Same holds true for the discontinued Amex SimplyCash except the limit is capped at 25k.
  3. CitiBusiness ThankYou card offers uncapped 3x TYP at office supply merchants in Q1.

Buy gift card on United MileagePlus X app

United MPX app sells various gift cards, including amazon gift card. Currently you earn 1 United miles/dollar (sometimes it goes to 2 miles/dollar) spent on amazon gift card. Do note that you earn 25% bonus miles (i.e. 1.25 miles/dollar on amazon) if you hold Chase MileagePlus Explorer (AF 95) or the no AF downgraded version of MPE card. Also, an important thing to point out is that neither Amex PRG nor Amex Platinum earns MR bonus on MPX purchases.

  1. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) earns 3x TYP on MPX purchase.

Buy gift card at supermarkets/ grocery store

  1. Amex Blue Cash Preferred (AF 95) earns 6% at supermarkets.
  2. Amex Everyday Preferred (AF 95) earns 3-4.5 MR at supermarkets and 2-3 MR at gas stations. If you make 30+ transaction in a billing cycle then you earn 4.5 MR and 3 MR at supermarket and gas stations respectively.

To gift card or not to gift card

By now hopefully you’ve got some ideas on why buying amazon gift card is popular as opposed to buying directly on amazon but for the sake of completion, let me list them out:

  1. Sometimes cards like Cash+ don’t give 5x on certain purchases on amazon. If you buy gift cards instead, you are guaranteed 5x earning. You can then use the gift card to make whatever purchase you were about to make.
  2. The earning rate through gift card purchase is often better. 3x TYP + 1/1.25 United miles is great earning rate from couch! If one does not mind the legwork of visiting an office store then 5x UR all year around is hard to pass on.
  3. Amazon gift cards can be loaded to your amazon account and then be used to purchase other gift cards. This makes value of amazon gift card even closer to cash then it was before.
  4. Amazon often has promos like “buy $100 GC and get $5 free” and “buy $50 GC and get $10 free”. During these promos, it can be a good idea to hoard amazon gift card by purchasing it with cards that earn 5x on amazon.

But not everything is jolly in the world of amazon gift cards. There is  obvious risk of losing them, having them stolen, or even forgetting to add them to your account. There is also the reality that gift cards can never truly be 1:1 cash but many of us make enough purchases on amazon for this to not be an issue. What is a major issue for me is the fact that purchases with gift cards don’t get the same benefits as purchases with credit cards. Most credit cards these days come with price protection, extended warranty, and guaranteed return refund. As such if you’re buying a pricey items (say electronics) then it is generally a better idea to use a credit card for direct purchase.

My personal preference

I have most of the cards mentioned above so you would think I have difficult time choosing what card to use but that wouldn’t be far from the truth. I’ve narrowed it down to the following preference in this particular order:

  1. Do I want price protection? Use AT&T Access More.
  2. Do I want extended warranty? Use AT&T Access More to extend 2 year warranty on eligible items. Sometimes I may dismiss this logic and use CSP or an Amex card for inferior yet more convenient warranty system.
  3. Use Freedom if it eligible for 5x on amazon.
  4. Can I be bothered to go to an office store? Use Ink.
  5. Use Access More on MPX.
  6. I feel like using Sallie or US Cash+

 

 

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