The best credit cards for online shopping
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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.
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:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for easy rewards
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for purchase protections
- Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for cash back on online shopping
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express: Best for frequent shoppers
- Chase Freedom: (No longer open to new applicants) Best for rotating 5x points
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature: Best for Amazon purchases
- U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: Best for selecting your own bonus category
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for price protection
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for Saks bonus
Annual fee: $0
Welcome offer: $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.
Standout shopping benefits: This card earns 1.5% cash back on 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, making the Freedom Unlimited one of the best cash back credit cards available today.
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.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).
Welcome offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of account opening — worth $700, according to our valuations.
Standout shopping benefits: The Amex Gold Card is typically one of the best credit cards for the food-obsessed among us, thanks to the 4x bonus points you’ll earn on dining at restaurants 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).
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 each quarter; 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.
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.
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.
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.
- The best card for Amazon shoppers: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Best credit cards for Amazon purchases
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.
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
The information for the U.S. Bank Cash+ 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.
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 latest offers for Capital One’s Spark business credit cards
- The best credit cards for price protection in 2020
- Best business credit cards
Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).
Welcome offer: 75,000 points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first six months of account opening — worth $1,500 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. Enrollment required for select benefits.
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. Enrollment required for select benefits.
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.
- The Platinum Card from American Express review
- Your guide to the Amex Platinum Saks Fifth Avenue credit
- Best travel credit cards
Featured photo by Tevarak Phanduang/EyeEm/Getty Images.
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WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.