Should you redeem Amazon Prime Card rewards for travel?

Apr 21, 2020

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

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is technically a cash-back credit card, but the redemption options are actually broader than you might expect.

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Besides getting cash back — available in the form of a statement credit or as an electronic deposit into an eligible U.S. checking or savings account — you can redeem your rewards to pay for all or part of your Amazon purchases, for gift cards or for travel through Chase’s travel portal.

Related reading: Best cash-back cards of 2020

In fact, all rewards are technically earned as points no matter how you end up redeeming them. No matter what you do, you’ll receive a flat value of one cent for each point when you redeem them.

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature 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.

Using Amazon rewards for travel

(Photo by Yelizaveta Tomashevska/Getty Images)
(Photo by Yelizaveta Tomashevska/Getty Images)

Because your points are always worth one cent each, there’s no advantage to redeeming them for travel. You won’t get a boost as you would with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, where points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. And there are no travel partners to which you can transfer your points in search of even more value.

However, flexibility is what makes the option of travel redemptions valuable for some.

Earning on the Amazon card

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Prime Rewards Visa does offer some high-value rewards for category spending, so this card still may be worth it to some consumers, particularly if you shop frequently at either Amazon or Whole Foods. You’ll earn:

  • 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores
  • 1% back on all other purchases

Related reading: Best cards to use for Amazon shoppers

There are a number of no-annual-fee cards that offer more valuable rewards on non-bonus spending including:

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

But no card can top the Prime Rewards bonus on spending at Amazon.com. You’ll pay no annual fee to own the card, but you must maintain a Prime membership to be eligible. The membership costs $119 annually. On the plus side, new cardmembers receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval.

Related reading: Is the Amazon Prime Rewards card worth it?

How to redeem points for travel

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 parked at BWI Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson / The Points Guy)
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 parked at BWI Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson / The Points Guy)

There are a few things to be aware of when redeeming rewards from your Amazon card for travel. You can use your points to purchase airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and cruises, but you’ll have to book over the phone, and Chase says that “travel rewards are subject to availability.” If you don’t have enough points to book your travel, you can pay the additional cost with your card account.

If you need to make a change or cancellation, you have to call back. Fees may apply and will be charged directly to your card account. If a refund is granted for travel booked in whole or in part with points, you’ll receive a credit to your points balance for the number of points used.

Related reading: Top travel rewards card of 2020

Is there a strategy to use your Amazon points for travel?

Grand Hyatt Manchester in San Diego. (Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Grand Hyatt Manchester in San Diego. (Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Because all redemptions are worth a flat one cent each, there really isn’t a particular travel reward that stands out. However, Chase’s travel portal is powered by Expedia, so it’s a good idea to compare pricing directly with an airline, hotel, rental car company, or activity provider.

Although you can typically earn redeemable airline miles and elite-qualifying miles when you book airfare with Chase, the same can’t be said about hotels. You usually won’t receive credit toward elite status and you probably won’t be offered the benefits of any status that you already have.

Related reading: Should I book through the Chase portal if I’m not redeeming points?

Bottom line

Amazon and Chase don’t make redeeming your points for travel easy, nor is there any incentive to go this route since points aren’t worth any more by redeeming them for airfare or hotels than they are for paying your Amazon bill. However, flexibility is nice, so you could pay your Amazon bill one month and buy airline tickets the next month and do it all from one account.

If you’re a big Amazon shopper, your best bet is to use the points to discount your Amazon purchases or to have cash directed to your bank account. Then you can use it to pay off the expenses you incurred by booking travel with your favorite travel rewards credit card.

Related reading: Cash Back vs. Points and Miles Credit Cards: The pros and cons of each

Additional reporting by Mike Cetera

Featured photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy.

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