Best credit cards for online shopping
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If we've learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's all the tips and tricks for having everything possible delivered directly to your door rather than venturing out to the stores to buy it. Even before the pandemic, online shopping had begun to dominate the retail landscape, but that trend certainly accelerated beginning in mid-March 2020.
But are you using the best credit card for online shopping? It's possible that the card you use when you check out at the grocery store isn't the best one for grocery delivery, or that you could be rewarded specifically for "online shopping."
- Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer - Best For Simplicity
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® - Best for Online Grocery Shopping
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - Best for Price Protection
- American Express® Gold Card - Best for Purchase Protection
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express - Best for Department Stores
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - Best for Overall Online Shopping
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - Best for Office Supplies
- Discover it® Cash Back - Best Bonus Opportunity
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card - Best for Amazon Purchases
Maybe you want a simple card to break out every time you make an online purchase – whether you're paying a utility bill or buying toilet paper; or maybe you're open to having several cards you use strategically to max out your rewards depending on the type of purchase you're making. Whatever your goal, we have options for you. So settle back on your sofa, and let's get you set up to make all that online shopping really rewarding.
Why We Like It: The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer effectively offers you 2% cash back on all your purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your balance), so that means that everytime you head online to shop or pay a bill or book a trip, you'll be racking up cash back. (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser). Plus, you can save money with 18 monthes introductory 0% APR on balance transfers (then, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)).
The Bonus:There's no traditional bonus, but the intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months could certainly comein handy and you could think of it as a kind of bonus. After the intro, the APR becomes 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)). There's a balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum..
The Rewards: Earn 1% when you make your purchse and 1% cash back as you pay your balance, for an effective 2% cash back on every purchases (just be sure you're paying at least the minimum amount due each month, on time, to earn your rewards).
The Annual Fee: $0
Credit Needed: Excellent
- This card incentivizes paying off your balace, which is a great reminder to pay your balance each month.
- Even cards that offer bonuses on online spending sometimes limit that to retail only or particular merchants; with this card, you'll earn top rewards whether you're paying an medical bill or buying a new pair of blue jeans.
- There's no annual fee and a lot of simplicity here to make this card valuable.
- Remember that the intro 0% APR period doesn't apply to purchases.
- Two percent total cash back is perfectly respectable, but it's also not the best out there. If you're willing to employ multiple cards and some strategy, you can earn substantially more on your online purchases using cards tailored to particular purchases.
- If you're online shopping includes purchases from foreign merchants in foreign currencies, you'll be disappointed to find this card charges foreign transaction fees.
Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.
Why We Like It: For your first year as a cardholder, the rewards earning on grocery store purchases is among the highest out there. The caveat, of course, is that you'll need to pivot after your first year BUT even after that first year this card offers fantastic rewards earning categories and a respectable at least 1.5% back on every purchase.
The Bonus: New cardholders earn $200 cash back (that's 20,000 Ultimate Rewards® points) after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn 5% cash back on the first $12,000 spent at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) during your first year as a cardholder.
The Rewards: In addition to those grocery store purchases during your first year (see Bonus above), earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on your other purchases.
The Annual Fee: $0
Credit Needed: Excellent, Good
- Even if you're doing your grocery shopping online these days for a curbside pickup, you'll earn 5% back on the first $12,000 you spend in the first year – that's some serious cash back potential.
- Save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months after account opening (then, 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).
- This is marketed as a "cash-back card," but you actually earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, a powerful travel rewards currency. Earnings from this card can be combined with Ultimate Reward® earned through other Chase cards.
- That high grocery store rewards rate is only for the first year and only up to $12,000 spent, so you'll need a backup card to keep earning top rewards on your online grocery shopping once either of those conditions has been met.
- Again, if you frequently shop with overseas merchants and make payments in a foreign currency, you'll be disappointed to find that this card charges for foreign transaction fees.
Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.
The Freedom Unlimited® card is excellent on its own, but it becomes an even better card when combined with another Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning card like Chase Freedom Flex℠, which we discuss in more detail below, but the key reason this combo is so powerful is because Freedom Flex® offers rotating categories in which cardholders earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in a quarter (activation necessary), so you could use the Flex version to earn top rewards in the quarterly categories and the Unlimited® card to earn 1.5% back in other categories. Both cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points so you can combine your points.
Additionally, if you decide to add Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to your wallet, your rewards points are worth 25% more when you combine them under that card and redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal or through the Chase Pay Yourself Back program. (The information related to the Sapphire Preferred® card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been supplied or reviewed by the issuer of the card.)
Why We Like It: It is demoralizing to make a purchase only to see that item go on sale or for the price to drop a few weeks or months later. This card helps save you that disappointment by offering price protection through Paribus, a service that automatically monitors your online purchases from numerous retailers and works to get you money back if a price drops. You don't technically have to pay with a credit card to take advntage of this service, but
The Bonus: Rake in up to 100,000 bonus miles! Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months and earn another 50,000 miles when you spend a total of $20,000 in your first year.
The Rewards: Earn an unlimited two miles per $1 on every purchase, every day. Through Jan. 31, 2021, you'll also earn five miles per $1 spent on Uber Eaters orders.
The Annual Fee: $95
Credit Needed: Excellent, Good
- Redeem your miles for statement credit to cover eligible travel purchases or transfer them to one of several hotel or airline loyalty programs.
- Since we're talking about the best cards for online shopping, it's worth noting that you can redeem your miles for purchases via Amazon.com.
- In addition to the Paribus price protection on your online purchases, Capital One also offers Wikibuy to help find the best prices when shopping online. (Note, neither Paribus or Wikibuy require you to have a Capital One card in order to utilize the services.)
- This card does charge an annual fee, so you'll need to ensure it's a good fit and that you can more than offset that fee with the rewards you earn.
- The welcome bonus offer is eye-popping, but achieving the full 100,000 points takes substantial spending. That said, earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months is a very common, lucrative and attainable offer even if you you can't quite spend the $20,000 in the first year to earn the fulll 100,000 miles.
- The travel partners are nice, but they aren't among the most common or popular programs. You may find they aren't terribly helpful to you when it comes to redeeming points.
Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: The American Express® Gold Card offers excellent rewards on purchases with U.S. supermarkets, so it could be a good card to transition to once you've met the conditions for the 5% back for the first year with Freedom Unlimited® (discussed above). Additionally, this card offers excellent purchase protection, covering eligible purchases against accidental damage or if they're lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase. There's also an extra year added to the manufacturer's warranty of five years or less (terms apply; American Express is a CardRatings advertiser).
The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 on new purchases within six months of account opening.
The Rewards: Earn four Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X); three points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com; and one Membership Rewards® point per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
The Annual Fee: $250
Credit Needed: Good, Excellent
- A shopper's dream: AmEx will extend the original manufacturer's warranty up to one additional years on U.S. warranties of five years or less, provided, of course, that you've made the purchase with an eligible card.
- You'll also get purchase protection. If you anything you buy with your card is broken, stolen or damaged within the first 90 days, it'll be replaced, up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year.
- There are no foreign transaction fees, which makes traveling internationally – or shopping with overseas merchants in a foreign currency – cheaper.
- The annual fee is a bit higher than average. Just make sure you'll more than offset the fee with the rewards you earn; it likely won't be difficult to do.
- Since this is a charge card, you shouldn't plan on carrying a balance. That's a good thing; if you use the card right, you won't pay interest. But it's helpful to know and possibly a bummer for anybody who wants to take a little more time than a month to pay the card back.
Read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card.
Why We Like It: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a no-annual-fee option for excellent rewards at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Obviously, it's the department stores and maybe the supermarket rewards that put that card on the our best cards for online shopping list.
The Bonus: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend just $1,000 in the first three months as a cardholder.
The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); earn 2% back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; and earn 1% back on your other eligible purchases. Your cash back accumulates as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credit.
The Annual Fee: $0.
Credit Needed: Good, Excellent
- If you're an avid online shopper, or you enjoy donning your mask and going to department stores – the 2% cash back rewards specifically for those purchases could be lucrative.
- As introductions go, this one's memorable. You'll enjoy an intro 0% APR period lasting 15 months on purchases (then,13.99% - 23.99% Variable).
- There are no spending caps in the 2% or 1% cash back category, so shop to your heart's content and know you're racking up cash back.
- The rewards for U.S. supermarket purchases are capped annually at $6,000, and then the rewards rate drops to 1%. If you think you'll spend far more, and the way grocery prices are, you well may, you might want to find a rewards card without the caps.
- Thinking of traveling abroad? Keep the foreign transaction fee in mind: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars..
Read our full Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
Why We Like It: There are certainly seasons when you probably do more online shopping than other times, which is why the ability to select "online shopping" as your top earning cateogry one month, but then "travel" or "dining" the next month is so valuale. Furthermore, earning 3% cash back in your choice category means that anywhere you shop online will earn you that top cash back (note that this for retails establishments and things like medical bills, education/tuition payments and some other non-retail payments do not qualify as "online shopping").
The Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of card membership.
The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back in a category of your choice from the following six categories: online shopping, gas (the default category), travel, dining, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. Earn 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases (3% and 2% cash back is on the first combined $2,500 spending in your choice category/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%). Earn 1% back on your other purchases. Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients earn 25%-75% more cash back on purchases depending on your tier, which is based based on average three-month balances across eligible accounts).
The Annual Fee: $0
Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
- Appealing rewards bonus for online shop-a-holics: You'll receive $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account.
- This card is a top card for online shopping because it gives you the option to select "online shopping" as your highest earning category, but there are other options too. And, as an online shopper, we know you appreciate options.
- We're always happy when there is no annual fee.
- The rewards categories are already lucrative, but Preferred Rewards clients stand to earn even more: If you're just a Gold tier member (that's the lowest tier), you could be earning 3.75% back on your online purchases (up to the cap).
- Sure you can earn 3% on your online shopping purchases, but the $2,500 quarterly combined spending caps in your choice category/grocery/wholesale club purchases are a bit of a downer. We'd rather see no spending caps or a higher spending cap.
- The Preferred Rewards client tiers are certainly nice, but the bar to become a Preferred Rewards client is fairly high – it starts with an average three months balance of $20,000 across all your eligible accounts.
Read our full review of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card.
Why We Like It: The no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card means your business can earn up to 5% cash back on purchases of office supplies, including if you shop via your favorite office supply store's website.
The Bonus: Earn a $500 cash back bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account year at office supply stores (including purchases via the store's website, and things like computers, printers and more) and on phone, internet and cable services. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases yearly at gas stations and restaurants; and earn an unlimited 1% cash back on your other purchases.
The Annual Fee: $0; add additional employee cards at no cost.
Credit Needed: Excellent, Good
- It's a great card for buying office supplies online (or offline, or anything you buy for your business) and your cash back accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, a highly valued travel rewards currency.
- There's no annual fee to worry about offsetting.
- Buy something you need to take your business to the next level and enjoy a 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable)).
- Foreign transaction fees make this card not a great choice if your business travel takes you abroad or if you frequently buy items online from merchants in a foreign currency.
- That $25,000 cap on combined spending to earn the top rewards is a bit low. If your business, for instance, needs to replace a number of computers or other electronics, you'll quickly eat through that cap.
Read our full Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: Besides this card offering 5% back in quarterly rotating categories that often include online shopping options, it also offers you a non-traditional welcome bonus opportunity that is as lucrative as you're able to make it.
The Bonus: Instead of a traditional bonus with a "spend X within X number of days to earn X cash back," Discover simply MATCHES all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder and there's no limit on how much that could be. For instance, if you manage to earn $1,000 cash back in your first year, Discover will match that making your first-year cash back actually equal $2,000. Even if you only max out the bonus cash back categories each quarter for the first year, that's $75 cash back each quarter or $300 for the first year, Discover will match that, effectively meaning you earn $600 cash back during your first year.
The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (quarterly activation required) and 1% after hitting the cap as well as on your other purchases. Traditionally, Amazon.com as well as several other online retailer possibilities have been among the quarterly categories, making this an excellent card choice for your online shopping needs.
Annual Fee: See Terms.
Credit Needed: Excellent, Good
- The possibility of a VERY lucrative welcome bonus opportunity really can't be stated enough. Discover will MATCH the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder.
- There's no annual fee to offset, so all the rewards you earn when you shop online, or offline, are yours to keep.
- Straight cash back is nice, but, keeping with the online shopping theme, know that you can redeem your rewards directly for purchases at Amazon.com.
- If you're not a fan of keeping track of categories and quarters, you may want another card. Remember, too, that you'll need to activate each quarter to earn the 5%. It's easy to do via your account online, but is another thing to remember.
- Discover, while regularly expanding its network, is not as widely accepted as Visa, Mastercard or even American Express. It's worth keeping in mind, particularly if you live or travel off the beaten path.
Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
Why We Like It: If you're shopping online, there's a pretty good chance you find yourself at Amazon.com sometimes. If you're there A LOT, well, a card that rewards that loyalty could be an excellent addition to your wallet. Sure other cards sometimes offer top rewards for your Amazon and/or Whole Foods purchases, but this one offers those top rewards all the time as well as some additional perks for your loyalty.
The Bonus: Cardholders receive a $100 Amazon gift card immediately upon approval, so there's no minimum spend to worry about.
The Rewards: Earn 5% back on purchases with Amazon.com or through Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; and 1% back on all your other purchases. Rewards can be redeemed for Amazon purchases, for statement credit or for a direct deposit to an eligible checking or savings account.
The Annual Fee: There isn't an annual fee for the card, but you do need to be an Amazon Prime Rewards member, which comes with a $119 per year membership fee.
Credit Needed: Excellent
- There's no better card out there to always, every time earn 5% back on your Amazon and Whole Foods Market purchases. There are other cards that offer that amount during certain quarterly bonuses, but if this is your primary online shopping destination, this card is tough to beat.
- You could even use this card when traveling internationally. There's no foreign transaction fee.
- Amazon often runs additional promotions and discounts for cardholders, such as extra percentages off your purchases on Prime Day.
- Technically, there's no annual fee, but you have to be an Amazon Prime member to apply for the card, and so that's essentially an annual fee ($119 annually; $59 for students). But if you're an Amazon devotee, you probably don't care.
- There's no introductory low or 0% APR period.
Read our full Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card review.
IS IT SAFE TO SHOP ONLINE?
Security and protecting your identity are top of mind for many people these days, as they should be. An increasingly digital world provides so many opportunities for your identity and your money to be compromised. Luckily, an increasingly digital world also means that there are many ways – and new ones all the time – to keep yourself safe.
Credit cards offer protections that shopping with cash, checks or debit cards cannot. Some of those protections are regulation related, like rules around how a bank has to handle the fraud if your credit card is stolen, while others are strictly practical, as in there's no replacing it if you lose or have stolen a wallet-full of cash.
In general, shopping online with a credit card is among the most secure ways you can interact in the seemingly endless world of online retail. Many issuers these days are even offering temporary card numbers specifically for your online purchases so that you don't have to ever put your permanent account number into a website. Plus, online payment services such as PayPal, mean that you can enter your payment information once and not have the need to even take your card out of the safety of your wallet in order to make a purchase in the future.
All that being said, there are some steps you should take to ensure that your credit card and personal information remain safe when you shop online:
1. Shop from reputable websites only. Know the brand you're buying from. If you've never seen the website before, spend a few minutes Googling for reviews or reports to the Better Business Bureau about the site. It's very difficult for a site to remain review-free on the web; if other people have had trouble with the site, you're almost guaranteed to find out that information with a quick internet search. You may still decide to go ahead with your purchase, but you'll be fully informed when you do.
2. Consider carefully to whom you hand your card for making an online purchase. Maybe you expected your roommate to use your card just once to buy that one pair of shoes and then pay you back. But many retailers offer you the option of saving your payment information to an account in order to make future purchases simpler. If your friend did that, they essentially have access to your account whenever they want... even if you and your roommate have a falling out.
3. Never give your info over the phone if someone calls you. If you place an order online and soon after receive a phone call telling you they need your credit card info again in order to complete your purchase, be leery. If that's true, you can hang up and call the company back yourself. That way you know who you've called and you can verify whether they need your info. This is a good lesson whether shopping online or not – never give out personal information to a stranger who calls you on the phone, no matter what they tell you they need it for.
4. Take advantage of the safety features built into your card. If your card offers you the option of paying with a temporary card number or any other features to make your purchase more secure, take them up on it! You have nothing to lose by using these safety features and potentially a lot to gain by avoiding fraud and identity theft.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees); Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees)
Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
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