These are the best cards for online shopping

Mar 27, 2020

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If you find yourself scouring through the internet’s virtual sales bins more than you’d care to admit, you’re in good company.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the online shopping world or just looking for a way to pass the time (or some retail therapy — we don’t judge), you’ll want to do yourself a favor and use a credit card that earns you valuable points, miles or cash back. More on that in a second. But first, some ground rules.

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(Photo via Getty Images)
(Photo via Getty Images)

To take your online shopping habit to the next level, you’ll want to use an online shopping portal every time you shop. Many top retailers — from Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman to Bed, Bath and Beyond — partner with the major airlines to help you earn bonus points or miles.

Related reading: The beginner’s guide to airline shopping portals

Here’s how it works: Instead of starting directly on a retailer’s site, you’ll start on an airline’s shopping portal, that will then direct you to the retailer’s site. You’re still purchasing the exact same items directly from the merchant, but because you started at the shopping portal, you’ll earn a bonus. You can find each of these with a simple Google search. Easy as pie.

One of our favorite pro tips, though, is Rakuten (formerly eBates). If you’re a member, you can earn either cash back or American Express Membership Rewards points for making purchases online at one of more than 3,500 online retailers after clicking through a Rakuten affiliate link.

While you can’t use Rakuten and an airline shopping portal at the same time, think about which one better suits your travel goals and go from there. By taking advantage of these little tips and tricks, you’ll be racking up points and miles in no time.

We recognize that in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, shopping might not be your first priority. However, getting stuff sent to your doorstep rather than heading out might be a good idea. So, if you’re in the market for some new items or are jumping on sales going around, you can earn rewards so you can have some extra cash back or points at the ready for when the time is right.

Let’s dive in.

The best cards for online shopping in 2020:

In This Post

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

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

Annual fee: $0.

Welcome offer: $200 cash back bonus after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.

Standout shopping benefits: This is a choose-your-own-bonus type of credit card. You can earn 3% cash back on one of the following categories of your choosing: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. You can change that 3% bonus category as frequently as every month, if you wish. You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Note that there’s a $2,500 cap on combined 3% and 2% cash back purchases; you’ll earn 1% afterward.

If you happen to have status in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program due to your deposits at Bank of America, that 3% could go all the way up to 5.25% cash back on online shopping.

Further reading:

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Welcome offer: $150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.

Standout shopping benefits: This card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, no ifs, ands or buts. It also boasts an extended warranty that extends the time period of a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, or an eligible warranties of three years or less. Better yet, rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open.

That 1.5% cash back can become more valuable when paired with a premium Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve. With those cards, you can make the points earned by the Freedom Unlimited fully transferrable Ultimate Rewards points worth up to 2 cents each.

Further reading:

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Welcome offer: 15,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Standout shopping benefits: If you make 30 or more purchases in a billing cycle, you’ll earn an additional 50% Membership Rewards points on your purchases. Keep in mind, though, that if you use it 29 times or less, you’ll get the standard 1x Membership Rewards points on all purchases, instead of the 1.5 points.

The information for The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Further reading:

Chase Freedom

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Welcome offer: Earn $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Standout shopping benefits: The Chase Freedom’s main draw is its rotating bonus categories. Every quarter, Chase releases a list of categories that the card will earn 5% cash back on — and typically, at least once per year, department stores are included in the mix. You’ll have to register on Chase’s website or app to participate, but it’s a seamless process and only takes a few minutes. You’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate.

Better yet, if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — you’ll be able to pool your rewards and redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, or transfer to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners for even more value.

Further reading:

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening — worth $700, according to our valuations.

Standout shopping benefits: The Amex Gold Card is typically a top pick for the food-obsessed among us, thanks to the 4x bonus points you’ll earn on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases each calendar year; then 1x), but it also has a trick up its sleeve when it comes to online shopping: purchase protection. This is the card you’ll want to use for any big orders (think: furniture) or anything marked final sale. That’s because you’re covered by up to $10,000 in purchase protection coverage per item (excluding natural disasters). Many people believe American Express has the least painful claim process, too, so this can really come in handy. It doesn’t exclude items that are lost or misplaced.

You’ll also get extended warranty protection (one additional year for items with original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less).

Further reading:

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Welcome offer: It varies, but currently we see an offer for $70 Amazon gift card valid for purchases at Amazon that is available as soon as you are approved.

Standout shopping benefits: You’ll get 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, plus 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. It also comes with purchase protection up to $500 per claim and $15,000 per account, and extended warranty protection that provides an additional year of coverage on eligible purchases with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.

You’ll have to be a Prime member to be eligible to get the card — but if you are, there’s little reason not to apply if you are a frequent Amazon shopper.

Further reading:

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards’ cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0.

Welcome offer: $150 in cash back after spending $500 in net purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Standout shopping benefits: You earn 5% cash back by selecting from one of 12 merchant categories each quarter. You’ll receive the 5% cash back on your first $2,000 of eligible spending each quarter. The categories include everything from TV, internet and streaming services to gyms and fitness centers — and of course, department stores and select clothing stores.

That makes it a great contender for online shoppers who are looking to earn some cash back on their purchases

Further reading:

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

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

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.

Welcome offer: You can earn 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in the first three months of account opening — worth $700, according to TPG valuations.

Standout shopping benefits: The Capital One Spark Miles for Business card is one of the few small business credit cards on the market that still offers price protection. Price protection differs from purchase protection in that it’s essentially an insurance policy against a price drop on an item you just bought.

For example, let’s say you buy a pair of shoes at Bloomingdales (using your airline’s shopping portal or Rakuten, of course). A few days later, you notice the shoes are discounted even more at Nordstrom. If you used your Spark Miles for Business card, you’ll be eligible to get reimbursement for the difference between what you paid and the better price you found. The information for the Capital One Spark Miles card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Further reading:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,200 according to TPG valuations.

Standout shopping benefits: Aside from lounge access, Uber credits, airline fee credit and more perks that come with the Amex Platinum, the card also boasts a very unique benefit: an up to $100 annual credits to Saks Fifth Avenue.

The credit is available in the form of two $50 statement credits per year. Your first $50 statement credit is available from July 1 to Dec. 31 and your second $50 statement credit is available from Jan. 1 to June 30. You need to enroll your Amex Platinum Card for this benefit to take effect, which you can do through your Amex account online.

As an added bonus, the credit now applies to purchases made at Barneys by Saks as well.

You’ll only earn 1x points on online shopping purchases, but hey — a shopping discount is always a win in our book.

Further reading:

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here

Featured photo by Tevarak Phanduang/EyeEm/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.