The Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping

Cash reward credit cards come in all shapes and sizes, awarding points, cash back, and travel perks when you use your card on grocery purchases, streaming services, wholesale clubs, department stores, and more. 

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Some of the best rewards credit cards give you cash back, and point boosts every time you use your card to shop online, whether you’re using it at a leading online retailer like Costco and Amazon or a small, family-run business.

What are Online Shopping Reward Cards?

A rewards card is simply a credit card that gives you points, cash back and/or other perks every time you use your card. Online shopping reward cards work in the same way but focus on online purchases. 

Reward cards can be both open-loop credit cards or closed-loop credit cards. The former is branded with the names of major networks like Visa and Mastercard and can be used everywhere those card types are accepted. 

The latter can only be used in a specific store. Open-loop credit cards typically provide many more perks and much better rates, and the fact they can be used everywhere means they are more convenient. However, closed-loop cards are easier to acquire as the credit score limitations are much lower.

The Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping

What follows is a list of the very best reward cards for consumers who make regular online purchases. We’ve covered a wide range of cards, from those offered by specific retailers, to those offered by banks. In both cases, you’ll get big rewards every time you use your card to make online purchases.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Amazon Prime Rewards Credit Card offers a flat rate of 1% on everyday purchases as well as 5% on all purchases made at Whole Foods and Amazon.com. 

If you spend a lot of money at The Zon, as countless Americans do, this can be a very lucrative card. 

Amazon is a secure website that sells everything you could need, and with Prime membership, you’ll get fast and free shipping on all those items as well. You will need Prime membership to get the most out of this card, but if you don’t have it, you will simply be offered a smaller rate.

The Amazon Prime Rewards card is a Visa Signature card, which means it comes with a host of insurance and protection benefits, and it also offers a bonus in the form of a $100 gift card. Apply now to start earning those cash back rewards and benefiting from one of the best cash reward cards for online shoppers.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Chase (Visa Signature Card)
  • Variable APR: 15.74% – 23.74% 
  • Intro APR: None Offered
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5% or $5 (smallest first)
  • Rewards Program: The highest rate of 5% is offered on all purchases made at Amazon.com and Whole Foods.
  • Account Opening Bonus: All new cardholders can get a $100 Amazon.com gift card upon approval.

Costco Anywhere Visa Card

The Costco Anywhere Visa Card is another standout card for online shoppers, one that offers a low regular APR and gives all cardholders 4% cash back when they use the card at qualifying grocery stores with 3% for US gas stations. 

The highest rates are not reserved for purchases at Costco, but you can still get 2% when you use the card there (and at Costco.com) and there is a flat rate of 1% for everything else. The only downsides here are the lack of an intro offer and account opening bonus.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Citi (Visa Card)
  • Variable APR: 16.74% APR 
  • Intro APR: None Offered
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Program: Earn between 1% and 4% cash back, with 2% for all Costco.com purchases and 4% for money spent at grocery stores.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None Offered

Discover It Cash Back Credit Card

The Discover It Cash Back card is a truly extraordinary credit card, one that has topped many of our lists in the past. 

This card offers a cash back rate of 5% for all qualifying purchases up to a quarterly maximum. After this, the rate drops down to 1%, but over the course of a year the 5% rate will apply to a total spend of $6,000.

One of the best things about this card is the account opening bonus because, at the end of your first year, all your cash back will be matched by Discover, essentially doubling your rate. This basically means that you’ll get a cash rewards bonus of up to 10% for the first year that you use the card.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Discover
  • Variable APR: 13.49% – 24.49%
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers 
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% during intro period and 5% thereafter
  • Rewards Program: Get up to 5% on rotating categories every three months. Rate returns to 1% once you reach a spend of $1,500 every quarter.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Double all bonus cash at the end of your first year.

GAP Rewards Credit Card

The GAP credit card charges a high regular APR, doesn’t have an intro offer and its welcome bonus comes in the form of a 20% discount, as opposed to a cash bonus. However, it’s worth looking into if you’re a big fan of the GAP, Athleta, Banana Republic or Old Navy, as using your card here will net you 5 points for every $1 that you spend.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Synchrony Bank (Visa Card)
  • Variable APR: 27.49% APR 
  • Intro APR: None Offered
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Program: Get 5 points per $1 spent at GAP and GAP online, as well as all sister brands. 500 points equate to a $5 reward.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get 20% off your first purchase at qualifying stores

Chase Freedom

One of America’s most popular credit cards has a respectable APR, no annual fee, and a bonus that goes as high as 5% for specific bonus categories. Cardholders can also get a bonus of $150 when spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening.

​The standard rate is quite low, at 1%, but if you find yourself spending a lot of money on the qualifying bonus categories, this doesn’t really matter that much, and you will still secure a sizeable return every year.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Chase (Visa)
  • Variable APR: 16.49% – 25.24% 
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% during intro period and then 5%
  • Rewards Program: Get 5% on certain bonus categories up to $1,500; earn 1% on everything else.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get a cash back bonus of $150 after spending $500 within 3 months of account opening.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is not necessarily a step-up or upgrade from the Chase Freedom. In fact, it offers many of the same benefits, including a generous intro offer and interest rate.

The only real difference here is that you’ll get a flat rate of 1.5% on every cent that you spend, as well as an account opening bonus of $200 instead of $150. Both cards are also part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

If you decide that Chase is the right fit for you, do the sums to see which one of these cards is best suited to your spending habits.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Chase (Visa)
  • Variable APR: 16.49% – 25.24% 
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% during intro period and then 5%
  • Rewards Program: No bonus categories or limits. Earn a fixed rate of 1.5% on all purchases.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get a cash back bonus of $200 after spending $500 within 3 months of account opening.

Walmart Credit Card

The Walmart Mastercard is an open-loop credit card that rewards you every time you spend money in Walmart stores and at Walmart.com.

It makes this list because the highest rate of rewards (5 points per $1) are offered every time you use your card to make online Walmart purchases, with 1 to 2 points per $1 offered elsewhere.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Capital One (Mastercard)
  • Variable APR: 17.99% – 26.99% 
  • Intro APR: None Offered
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Rewards Program: Get up to 5% back during the first 12 months at Walmart.com. Earn 2% in Walmart stores and Murphy USA Fuel Stations, as well as on dining and travel purchases.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get extra cash back on Walmart Pay for first 12 months.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

A list of the best reward credit cards wouldn’t be complete without at least one addition from American Express. The Everyday Card is one of the very best, giving you 3% every time you shop at US supermarkets, with a limit of $6,000 per year. You will also get 2% for gas purchases and 1% everywhere else you use your card.

AmEx offers all new account holders a bonus of $150 when they spend $1,000 within 3 billing cycles; there is an intro rate of 0% APR for 15 months, and no annual fee.

  • Credit Card Issuer: AmEx
  • Variable APR: 14.49% – 25.49%
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Program: Get a bonus of 3% when you use your card at US supermarkets (up to $6,000). Also offers 2% for money spent at gas stations and 1% on everything else. 
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get a cash bonus of $150 when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred AmEx has many of the same features as the Blue Cash Everyday, but unlike the Freedom Chase Unlimited vs the Freedom Chase, this one really is an improvement.

It increases the bonus category payout to 6% and adds another $100 onto the welcome bonus. There is also a selection of additional cardmember perks. However, in exchange for these improved benefits, you’ll need to pay an annual fee of $95.

  • Credit Card Issuer: AmEx
  • Variable APR: 14.49% – 25.49%
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Program: Get a bonus of 6% when you use your card at US supermarkets (up to $6,000). Also offers 2% for money spent at gas stations and 1% on everything else.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get a cash bonus of $250 when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening.

Different Types of Rewards and Benefits

We have written extensively about reward credit cards on this site, and that’s because there are so many different types, from cards aimed at students and bad credit borrowers to ones geared towards high-earners and big spenders.

Once you get passed the bonus categories and the redemptions (discussed below) these cards all come down to a few key points, determining what sort of bonuses you can collect and what sort of offers are provided.

Cash Back

Cash back credit cards advertise their rewards as a percentage. This refers to the amount of money you will earn from every purchase that you make. Many of the redemption options for cash back cards are the same as point rewards. 

The main difference is that $5 will always be worth $5 here, whereas air miles and points can change their value depending on how they are redeemed.

Points

Reward cards that give you points allow these points to be used for an array of purchases and may pay extra points for specific bonus categories. In some cases, you can transfer these points to other programs or get a higher rate of return when you redeem them for specific purchases.

Air Miles

Air miles are basically reward points for air travel. Cards that use air mile systems typically provide you with the biggest point boosts when you make travel and transit purchases. They can then be redeemed for the same expenses, including airfare, hotel rooms, train tickets, rideshares, tolls, and more.

Discounts

Reward cards that only offer discounts are common with closed-loop store cards, such as the TargetRED credit card. Think of these like loyalty cards—every time you use them, you can secure additional discounts and offers to reward you for your loyalty.

Introductory APRs

An intro APR offers you 0% on purchases and transfers for a specific period of time. When you use your card during this period, you’ll still create a balance and you will still be required to pay that off, but you won’t need to pay any interest on it until this period is over.

This offer typically applies to balance transfers as well as purchases. With the former, you can move balances across and swerve all interest payments, which means every cent you repay will go toward the principal.

Sign-up Bonus

Sign-up bonuses are common with reward credit cards. Some are released at the end of your first year of use, others are released as soon as the card is approved or activated. 

The majority, however, are released within three months of account opening. These bonuses require you to spend a specific amount of money within that time, after which you will get a cash or points bonus.

Additional Perks

Reward cards offer stacks of perks and benefits, so much so that it’s easy to overlook a few of them. When you’re browsing through credit card offers, you’ll see all the important stuff highlighted. This includes the rewards rate, signup bonus, interest rate, annual fee, and other such essential info.

But what about travel protection, purchase protection, roadside assistance, VIP lounge access, travel credit, car rental insurance, and free memberships? All these things are offered by some of the very best reward credit cards, but because they’re not displayed front-and-center, many applicants overlook them.

Always look at the small print, cover every detail, and make sure you know what you’re getting. You may determine that one card is better than another because it has similar fees and rates but also offers a $50 higher signup bonus. 

But what if the card you’re rejecting is part of the Visa Signature program and comes with the many benefits this program offers? What if it comes with access to VIP airport lounges and $100 in travel credits every year?

How to Get the Best Online Shopping Reward Card for You

You don’t have to limit yourself to a single credit card. Unlike a debit card, there is a benefit to owning a multitude of credit cards without having a multitude of bank accounts. However, it’s still important to choose the right card for you, especially if you’re going to be using it a lot. With that in mind, here are some top tips to help you find the very best reward credit card.

Improve Your Credit Score

The first step to finding the right card for you is to check your credit report and make sure it is as clean as it can be. Your FICO score will play a big role in determining what sort of credit card offers you can get, as many of the credit cards mentioned above require at least a Good score, which is generally anything above 670. The better credit cards require at least an Excellent score, which is anything above 740.

A new credit card will hurt your score initially, both because of the hard inquiry and the new account, but the addition of a new credit limit, along with a steady payment history, will offset those losses after a few months and create a strong score before long.

You can also increase your current credit limits or repay some of your current balances, as this will boost your credit utilization ratio.

Compare Limited vs Unlimited

Point and cash back rates can change depending on where you’re spending your money. These cards have two rates: Limited and Unlimited. The former is capped, and once you spend more than that specific limit you will typically drop to a much lower rate. The latter is uncapped, giving you a higher standard rate but not offering any boosts.

Take the Chase Freedom cards as an example. With the standard one, you’ll get 5% on certain bonus categories up to a spend of $1,500 a quarter. After that, the rate drops down to 1%. With the Unlimited you’ll get 1.5% on all purchases, with no limited or bonus categories.

​Obviously, the standard card looks like the better option, but depending on how much you spend and where you spend it, the unlimited may earn you more money. It also has a higher welcome bonus. 

Make sure you calculate your projected spend (you can use the previous year’s statement to predict this) and then calculate which card will earn you the most money.

Don’t Forget About Fees

Some reward schemes are incredibly generous, but also charge high annual fees, and depending on what sort of user you are, those annual fees may be enough to offset your rewards.

Be sure to calculate these fees into the equation when deducing how much a card will earn you. And don’t just stop at annual fees. You also need to think about foreign transaction fees if you travel a lot, cash advance fees if you use your card at ATMs (or to purchase lottery tickets, money orders, etc.,) and balance transfer fees if you’re making a transfer.

How to Redeem Credit Card Rewards

Credit card rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, some better than others. These rates are typically tied to credit card issuers, as opposed to types of cards. They include:

  • Cash Transfer: Reward cards offered by certain banks, including Wells Fargo, allow you to transfer your rewards to your checking account, if you have such an account with the bank. If not, and if you plan on using your card a lot, it might be worth opening one. 
  • Statement Credit: One of the best ways to spend your reward points or cash back is through something known as statement credit. Simply put, when it comes time to pay your balance at the end of the month, you can use your rewards for a full or partial clearance, therefore absolving yourself of some of the burden.
  • Gift Cards: Many store cards and branded cards will let you use your points/cash back to redeem for gift cards. These are tied to specific stores but allow you to maximize your return.
  • Specific Purchases: With travel reward credit cards, you can often redeem your points for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and more.
  • Checkout Reduction: Some cards work with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay; others allow you to use them in the Amazon checkout, saving money on essential purchases. This is an ideal redemption option for online shoppers.
  • Reimbursement: Instead of letting you use your card to make travel purchases, some travel reward cards will simply reimburse you when you make those purchases using your card.
  • Check: It’s rare to find credit cards that will let you redeem your points in the form of a check, but such redemption options still exist.

Are Reward Cards Right for You?

How do you know if cash rewards credit cards are right for you? How do these cards compare to other credit card offers? Depending on your situation, you may be better off with an alternative card.

If You Don’t Pay Your Balance in Full

Cardholders that don’t clear their balance in full every month should focus more on the interest rate than the rewards rate. 

It is highly unlikely that a rewards card will earn enough to offset the money you lose in interest payments every month, especially if you’re paying an excessive APR just to get that card.

Reward credit cards don’t always have a higher APR than their non-reward counterparts. The providers earn most of their money for these cards by charging higher merchant fees. However, once you compare these cards to some super low-interest cards offered by credit unions, they begin to look extortionate.

Even with an excellent credit score, you’ll be lucky to get an APR under 16% with a major reward credit card. If you opt for a credit union card, however, you can bring the interest rate under 10%, saving you a small fortune in interest every month.

You Have a Large Balance

If you have a large rolling balance that you’ve had for a while and just can’t seem to shift, you need to focus on balance transfer credit cards. These cards allow you to move over balances from 1 or more credit cards and benefit from a 0% APR for a limited period.

Some reward credit cards offer this 0% intro APR for between 6 and 15 months, but if you drop the rewards and look elsewhere, you can extend this to 21 months. This means that every penny you pay will go towards the principal, allowing you to clear it quickly and cheaply.

At the end of the balance transfer period, you will have either cleared the balance in full or reduced it considerably. 

If You Spend More Than $50,000 a Year

Once your spending increases, your options increase as well and you become more valuable to credit card companies. Once you hit between $30,000 and $50,000, you can look into cards such as the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserved (a premium version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred). 

These cards have annual fees of $550, but offer a high rate of rewards, along with travel credits, Uber credits, access to VIP lounges, and a host of other perks. You don’t need a big income to get these cards, nor do you need to spend a huge amount of money. But if you’re not spending big every month then you won’t collect the welcome bonus and won’t make enough points to offset the high annual fee.

If You Travel More Than 3 Times a Year

Anyone who travels at least 3 times a year should look into premium travel reward cards, including the American Express Platinum mentioned above. These cards offer many perks for travelers and become beneficial even if you’re not spending upwards of $30,000 a year.

Technically, if you travel a lot and spend enough to collect the bonus points, you can make this card work by spending around $2,000 a month. You won’t earn a huge number of points, but you should still cover the annual fee, especially when you consider the additional travel credits and perks provided.

Bottom Line: Getting the Best Cards

Whatever card you choose, make sure you use it properly, keeping unnecessary purchases to a minimum, collecting the welcome bonus, keeping an eye on the accumulated rewards, and paying off your balance in full every month. 

Once you do this, there’s no reason why you can’t have a credit card for every purchase, every occasion, and with all your favorite stores.