Skip to content

How to use Amazon to avoid credit card shutdowns

April 30, 2020
4 min read
How to use Amazon to avoid credit card shutdowns
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.

One of the big mistakes in the credit card hobby is having an old credit card account closed for lack of use. This may have a negative impact on your credit score — both from an average age of accounts and a utilization perspective.

Credit card issuers don't want to keep a cardholder around who doesn't spend money on his or her card. Even if you don't use benefits from a card, there's a cost for issuers just to maintain your account, which is why credit card companies may eventually shut down inactive accounts.

Want more credit card news and travel advice from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter!

Strategy for "sock-drawered" cards

The easiest way to prevent this is pretty obvious: spend on the credit card. But or cards that you have "sock-drawered" — or stashed somewhere, since you don't have room in your wallet — cycling through all of the unused cards via day-to-day purchases can be a hassle.

Enter Amazon's Reload Your Balance option, through which the e-tailer will let you use a credit card to reload your balance. You can reload any amount above $0.50, and Amazon doesn't care how many cards you use. Case in point: I have 38 cards in my Amazon profile.

Related reading: Ordering from Amazon? You could earn 5x bonus points on your next purchase

About every six months, I review the credit cards that I haven't used recently and load $5 from each one onto my Amazon Gift Card balance:

You could do less than $5, but some issuers won't bother to bill you for smaller purchases. For example, I've had a $0.99 Amazon reload waived by Barclaycard. Not wanting to tempt fate and have these smaller purchases not reset the inactive account clock, I use $5 reloads.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

(While we're on the topic, Amazon Reload Your Balance is also a great way of getting rid of any Visa or American Express gift cards you may have received. Amazon doesn't mind taking prepaid gift cards — whether it's a brand-new one that you got as a gift or the last $2.46 that you have on a card that you just can't figure out how to use.)

You might be wondering what to do with all of this money you're accumulating in your Amazon account. If you're like me, you still want to get good purchase protection and price protection on goods you buy, as well as excellent travel insurance for flights you book. So, you'll still want to use your credit card for most purchases. The best use of these funds is for general household items, either purchased through Amazon or by buying a gift card through Amazon for stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Whole Foods and others.

For me, since I'm on the road all the time, I usually end up buying Airbnb gift cards on Amazon with my balance. Unfortunately, this means that I miss out on 3x earnings on my Chase Sapphire Reserve, but it's an easy way for me to use up the funds.

Related reading: Should you redeem Amazon Prime Card rewards for travel?

Additional reporting by Chris Dong.

Featured image by Photothek via Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

60,000 points
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more