3 ways to maximize buying books for every type of reader

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Streaming services. Groceries. Restaurant delivery and take-out. If you’re finding yourself purchasing these everyday items and services more than ever, it’s not exactly a surprise. Social distancing guidelines across the U.S. following the COVID-19 outbreak have led to more time around the house. That means you’re likely enjoying more at-home entertainment than ever. 

If books or ebooks are one of your main comforts right now, your options for maximizing your purchases might seem limited. There are, however, three ways to make it work for you.

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In This Post

1. Maximize with the best credit cards for books

Let’s first take a look at the best cards to purchase both books and ebooks. For many of these cards, you’ll earn a minimum 5x return on your spending.

Credit Card Best for Book bonus earning
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Books bought through Amazon 5x
Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card Bookstores anywhere 5x (10x in Q4 2020)
Barnes & Noble Mastercard Books bought through Barnes & Noble 5x
Target REDcard Books bought through Target 5% cash back
Citi® Double Cash Card Books bought from independent bookstores 2% cash back (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay)

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa, Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card, and Barnes & Noble Mastercard been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa

(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)

Among the most convenient ways to save on Amazon’s vast array of books — and all of its other products — are with one of its cash-back credit cards. The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa comes without an annual fee, and might be a good option if you’re a brand devotee and you aren’t prioritizing other kinds of rewards programs — like airline miles or points.

The Prime Rewards Visa earns you 5% cash back at Amazon when you have an existing Prime membership ($119 annual fee). In addition to 5% off at Amazon and Whole Foods, you’ll also get 2% cash back at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores, and 1% back on all other purchases. A current sign-up bonus lets you earn a $70 gift card on approval. 

Note that the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa is by Chase, and counts toward your 5/24 card approval limit

Related reading: Best cards for Amazon purchases 

Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

(Photo by George Rudy/Shutterstock)
(Photo by George Rudy/Shutterstock)

On the surface, a niche credit union card might seem like an odd choice for a list of best credit cards for buying books and ebooks. However, dig a little deeper, and you’ll find some stellar earnings from this card. 

You’ll get 5% cash back at all bookstores, including Amazon.com, and 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets. However, this no-annual-fee credit card also includes an extra 5% cash back on quarterly rotating category bonuses. Best of all, you can stack bonuses on top of each other. For instance, you’ll get an extra 5% cash back on bookstores and “popular retailers” in Q4 of 2020.

That means 10% back on bookstore purchases later in 2020 — no card would likely come even close.  

Barnes & Noble Mastercard

(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

If you grew up going to your local Barnes & Noble bookstore, you’re not alone. However, besides nostalgic value, this store credit card earns decent earnings if B&N is your go-to for book and ebook purchases. 

You’ll earn 5% back on all in-store and online Barnes & Noble purchases along with 2% back at restaurants. And it’s not just Amazon that sells e-readers. B&N carries a series of Nook products and ebooks for your digital reading pleasure. 

Target REDcard

(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)

Target might be synonymous with groceries and household needs, but they typically also carry a selection of books both in-store and online. While not nearly as extensive a selection as Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you can still find a surprisingly-wide array of popular bestsellers and even Target exclusive reads. 

The Target REDcard earns 5% cash back on all Target purchases, including books. 

Related reading: Best cards for Target purchases 

Citi® Double Cash Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)

Finally, the Citi Double Cash Card is a versatile product that earns 2% cash back — 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay your bill. This card allows to be as flexible as possible when it comes to buying books and ebooks. You’ll get 2% back no matter the specific retailer — from a local small used bookstore to a global mega-chain.  

Related reading: Best cash-back credit cards

2. Maximize with targeted Amazon offers on your credit card

It’s easy to forget sometimes, given the sheer variety of items it offers, that Amazon started out as a bookseller. Today, you can still find almost any title in or out of print here, and in every available format. 

In June, Chase cardholders may see some targeted offers on the Kindle Store, Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s ebook subscription service) and Audible (the Amazon-owned audiobook store). They can include:

  • 20% off a single Kindle ebook purchase (up to $2 back)
  • 20% off a Kindle Unlimited subscription (up to $3 back), which typically costs $9.99 per month
  • 10% off an Audible audiobook purchase (up to $3 back)
Photo courtesy of Chase
Photo courtesy of Chase

In addition, Amex regularly offers a discount when redeeming Membership Rewards points on Amazon purchases. The best part is that you can use as little as one Membership Reward point. 

Finally, Amex cardholders may also be targeted for Amazon-specific Amex Offers for up to an additional 5x Membership Rewards points. Check your card’s offers section to add them. 

Photo courtesy of Amex
Photo courtesy of Amex

3. Maximize with cash-back portals for other bookstores

Amazon might be the most convenient way to buy books and earn cash-back, but putting all of your bookish eggs in one retailer’s basket can have some downsides, especially when it comes to ebooks. 

Amazon’s ebook format, for example, is proprietary and can only be read on Kindle devices and apps. And beyond that, Amazon hasn’t exactly been a friend to smaller booksellers. The company’s deep discounting has been a boon for consumers, but it’s also upended — and threatened — the entire bookselling industry. 

If you want to lend your dollars to some alternative sellers — and earn rewards, including some that are travel-related — here are some options.  

Related reading: Maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

Books-a-Million

This online bookseller has both brick-and-mortar stores and a robust online catalog, though ebooks aren’t its strength. One of the best reasons to shop this store, though, is that it’s included in a variety online shopping portal. Currently, the retailer is on SkyMiles Shopping (2 miles per dollar spent); MileagePlus Shopping (2 miles per dollar spent) and AAdvantage Shopping (3 miles per dollar spent). 

TopCashback currently offers 3% back on Books-a-Million purchases, and Rakuten offers 2.5% back. Use a site like CashbackMonitor to see where you’ll get the best value. 

To earn miles or points plus cash back, you can make your purchase with the rewards credit card of your choice and layer on savings through a cash-back portal. Here are some other online book retailers and their current respective cash back, points and miles earning rates through shopping portals.

Related reading: The beginners’ guide to airline shopping portals

Abe Books

  • Rakuten: 2.5 points/$
  • AAdvantage Shopping: 2 miles/$
  • MileagePlus Shopping 1 mile/$
  • SkyMiles Shopping: 2 miles/$
  • Rapid Rewards Shopping: 2 points/$
  • Mileage Plan Shopping: 2 miles/$

Textbooks.com

  • Rakuten: 2 points/$ 
  • AAdvantage Shopping: 3 miles/$
  • MileagePlus Shopping: 2 miles/$
  • Rapid Rewards Shopping: 3 points/$

Related reading: How to use Rakuten to earn bonus cash back or Amex points

(Photo by Zhang Qiao/VCG via Getty Images)
(Photo by Zhang Qiao/VCG via Getty Images)

eBooks.com

  • Rakuten: 4 points/$ (ebooks only)
  • TrueBlue Shopping: 3 points/$
  • British Airways Mall: 4 Avios/$

Alibris

  • Rakuten: 2.5 points/$
  • AAdvantage Shopping: 2 miles/$
  • SkyMiles Shopping 2 miles/$
  • Rapid Rewards Shopping: 2 points/$
  • TrueBlue Shopping: 3 points/$

Related reading: How to earn extra American AAdvantage miles

Bottom line 

Credit card category bonuses, targeted card offers and online shopping portals are easy ways to collect points, miles and cash back while reading right at home. 

Whether you’re already a prolific reader or want to restart reading-for-pleasure after a long hiatus, these are three straightforward ways to maximize your book purchases. Mix and match what exactly works for you to get the most rewards.

Featured photo by MindandI/Shutterstock

Citi® Double Cash Card

This card offers 2% cash back - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent

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