Popular Cards for Amazon Purchase

This guide was originally published in my old blog in Oct 25, 2016 but has been republished with some revision and update.

This article attempts to compile a list of popular cards that yield large sum of miles, points, or cashback on amazon purchases or purchase of amazon gift cards via third party. Some of these cards earn high earning only on certain quarter while others do so throughout the year. For nostalgia’s sake, I have also included discontinued cards and dead cards that once ruled this category.

Table of Content

Quarterly Rotating Categories
All Year Around
The Dead Beasts
Buy Gifts Cards at Office Store
Buy Gifts Cards at Supermarkets
Buy Gift Cards on United MileagePlus X App
Buy Gift Cards through Paypal Digital Gifts
Buy Gift Cards on the Gyft and Swych App
To Gift Cards or not to Gift Card
Portals and Amazon Smile
My Personal Preference

Quarterly Rotating Categories

Discover IT generally offer 5% on Amazon in Q4 of every year. Note that 5% earning is quarterly capped on first $1.5k spend on 5% category. Also, Discover IT usually doubles cashback earned in 1st year of holding the card. In essence, 5% on Amazon can be 10% at the end of the first year.

In Q4 of 2015, Chase Freedom offered 10x on Amazon but no amazon category has surfaced since. As such I’ve removed Freedom from this rather short list.

An important thing to note is that in some quarter these cards offer 5% on grocery store, gas stations, etc. During these quarters it is possible to grab amazon gift cards from 5% earning stores (more on this later).

All Year Around

  1. US Bank Cash+ quarterly allows you to select categories of your choice. One of the 5% earning category is “bookstore” and amazon happens to be coded as a bookstore. Each quarter you can earn 5% on purchases up to 2k.
  2. Amazon Store Card offers 5% cashback for Amazon prime members. This is not a credit card.
  3. Chase Prime Rewards offers 5% cashback for Amazon prime members. Yes this card is metal you wankers.
  4. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) offers 3x TYP on amazon purchases. Note that Citi cards generally come with online price rewind feature (which covers Black Friday and door buster sales) and 2 year extended warranty in qualifying purchase.
  5. Connect Rewards from VantageWest also allows you to quarterly change 5% categories. In fact you can pick categories a year in advance and never look back. One of the 5% category includes Amazon but you may also choose Pharmacy and Drugstore and buy amazon giftcard over there. Note that 5% earning is quarterly capped on first $1.5k spend on 5% category. Everyone is eligible to join the VantageWest credit union at a cost of $15 max. You may read further on this card by checking VantageWest – 5% Connect Rewards Visa Review.

 The Dead Beasts

Once upon a time there were very few cards that offered bonus category earning on amazon purchase. During that time there were two notable cards that unintentionally offered massive bonus on amazon purchase. The cards somehow managed to live and function to their full glory even after several year from the time they were discontinued.

  1. Citi Forward lost its outrageous bonus earning on June 4th 2016. Fortunately, the card still earns 100 points each month for any purchase, so….yay? Anyway the specs prior to nerf were as follows:
    • 5x ThankYou (TY) points on books (which includes amazon) restaurant, music, and movies.
  2. Barclays Sallie Mae was erased altogether on March 1st 2017 as Barclay forced product change to Commence Mastercard. Up until then the specs were as follows:
  • It earned 5% on first 750 spent each month at a bookstore (which includes amazon).
  • It earned 5% on first 250 spent each month at grocery stores. You could buy amazon gift cards at a grocery store.
  • It earned 5% on first 250 spent each month at gas stations. You could buy amazon gift cards at gas stations as well.

Buy Gift Card at Office Stores

Some business cards offer bonus multiplier on office stores (example include Staples and Office Max). You can buy amazon gift cards at these stores and later add the gift card to your amazon account.

  1. Chase Ink Plus (discontinued; AF 95) earns 5x UR on first 50k spent at office store and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Same holds true for Chase Ink Cash (no AF) except the limit is capped at 25k.
  2. Amex SimplyCash Plus earns 5% cashback on first 50k spent at US office supply store. Same holds true for the discontinued Amex SimplyCash except the limit is capped at 25k.
  3. CitiBusiness ThankYou card offers uncapped 3x TYP at office supply merchants in Q1.
  4. The Lesser Known Ink Copy Cats might be worth a look for heavy MSers. The most notable among these is FNBO’s Absolute Rewards Business card which allows for 5x earning on first 25k in selected categories. This FNBO’s card allows one to redeem 3.8k points for $25 (0.658 cpp) and 13k points for $100 cash (.769 cpp) which means 5x earning is at best 3.846% cashback. Additional option for redeeming 31.3k points for $250 amazon gift card (0.799 cpp if you could call it that) also exists.

    Buy Gift Card at Supermarkets

    1. Amex Blue Cash Preferred (AF 95) earns 6% at supermarkets.
    2. Amex Everyday Preferred (AF 95) earns 3-4.5 MR at supermarkets and 2-3 MR at gas stations. If you make 30+ transaction in a billing cycle then you earn 4.5 MR and 3 MR at supermarket and gas stations respectively.

Buy Gift Card on United MileagePlus X App

United MileagePlus X (MPX) app sells various gift cards, including amazon gift card. Currently you earn 0.5 United miles/dollar (in the past this has gone to 1 or even 2 miles/dollar) spent on amazon gift card. Do note that you earn 25% bonus miles (currently 0.125x) if you hold Chase MileagePlus Explorer (AF 95) or the no AF downgraded version of MPE card.

  1. Amex Platinum (AF 450-550) earns 5x on MPX purchase.
  2. Amex Premium Rewards Gold (PRG; AF 195) earns 3x on MPX purchase.
  3. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) earns 3x TYP on MPX purchase.

Buy Gift Cards through Paypal Digital Gifts

  1. Ink Plus/Cash (discontinued) earns 5x
  2. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) earns 3x

Buy Gift Card on the Gyft and Swych App

Using Paypal for purchase on Gyft app triggers bonus categories on the following card:

  1. Ink Plus/Cash (discontinued) earns 5x
  2. Citi AT&T Access More (discontinued, AF 95) earns 3x
  3. Ink Preferred (AF 95) possibly earns 3x (unconfirmed)

Using Paypal on yet another app Swych also triggers 5x on Ink Plus/Cash.

To Gift Card or not to Gift Card

By now hopefully you’ve got some ideas on why buying amazon gift card is an popular option for the sake of completion, let me list some of them out:

  1. Amazon gift cards can later be used to buy other gift cards. If you’ve a way of getting x% off on amazon gift card then you’ve a way of getting x% off on other gift cards sold at amazon.
  2. Sometimes amazon (or some place else) runs some “spend this much and get that much discount” and occasionally buying amazon gift card qualifies for such promo.
  3. Some folks like to earn 5x UR by buying amazon gift cards at office store and such. This was a difficult option (and probably still is) to pass on before Platinum started to handout 5x on MPX.
  4. Few years ago there were not any card that explicitly provided bonus on amazon purchase. In the old days of Forward, Sallie, and Cash+ unintentionally being top amazon cards, sometimes somehow some of those purchases did not trigger 5% cashback. What did always trigger 5% cashback was the purchase of amazon gift card on amazon.

But not everything is jolly in the world of amazon gift cards. There is  obvious risk of losing them, having them stolen, or even forgetting to add them to your account. There is also the reality that gift cards can never truly be 1:1 cash but many of us make enough purchases on amazon for this to not be an issue. What is a major issue is the fact that purchases with gift cards don’t get the same benefits as purchases with credit cards. Most credit cards these days come with price protection, extended warranty, and guaranteed return benefits. As such if you’re buying a pricey items (say electronics) then it is generally a better idea to make a direct purchase with a credit card.

Portals and Amazon Smile

Anyone shopping online should always look to use a portal (see cashbackmonitor) but for a very very long time there wasn’t a portal that paid for pretty much everything purchased on amazon. But on Dec 2nd 2016 JetBlue started to pay out 3x TrueBlue points on amazon purchases (JB link).

You can stack JB portal with Smile by replacing your adding “smile.” in front of “amazon.com”. Alternatively you may try Smile Always extension for Chrome for automatic redirection. You can read more about this in DoC’s article.

My Personal Preference

This is MY personal preference and obviously your preference may vary. The first thing I ask myself is “do I want credit card benefit like extended warranty and price drop protection or not?” If I want 2 year warranty then Citi card is the only choice. Among all Citi cards I prefer AT&T Access More card because it earns 3x on amazon.  If I can be satisfied with 1 year extended warranty then I prefer a qualifying Amex card. 

If I’m okay with buying and paying with a gift card then I prefer the following:

  • buy Amazon GC through MPX app using Amex Platinum (5x MR)
  • MPX offers certain united miles (currently 0.5x) for purchase of amazon GC
  • because I hold no fee MPE card I earn 25% (which turns out to be 0.125x) is more United miles on MPX purchase.
  • add giftcard to amazon account, then after pull up my JB link for 3x TB points. Oh and don’t forget to modify JB link to incorporate smile for 0.5% to charity.

NET: 5x MR + 0.5x United + 0.125x United + 3x TrueBlue + 0.5% to charity

An alternate way is to buy GC at office store using Ink Plus/Cash but that requires legwork and one does miss out on United bonuses.

 

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