|Credit Building Rating:||3.3 / 5|
|Cost of Membership||3.8|
|Ease of Building Credit||2.7|
In a Nutshell:
The Amazon Prime Secured card’s $0 annual fee, low minimum deposit requirement and Prime member rewards make it a decent option for regular Amazon customers who are looking to build or rebuild their credit and don’t mind the inflexibility of a store card.
Average cost of membership per year ($3,600 annual spend)
Security deposit required
Initial credit limit
Access to higher credit line?
Other rates and fees
Features: $0 fraud liability, credit monitoring and education tools, special financing options
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The Amazon Prime Secured Card lets users earn rewards and build credit while they shop online. Specifically, cardholders earn 2% back on their purchases with an eligible Amazon Prime membership for the first 12 months, after which their rewards rate can increase to 5% back. Best of all, there’s no annual fee.
Just keep in mind that collateral is required to get started with the Amazon Prime Secured Card. Your security deposit can range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the amount of credit you’re approved for, and you can add more funds to your line of credit in increments of $50.
Why you might want the Amazon Prime Secured Card
If you need to build credit and are already an Amazon Prime member, signing up for the Amazon Prime Secured Card makes a lot of sense. As a Prime member, you’re likely already purchasing products on Amazon and reaping the benefits of quick, convenient shipping, so why not earning rewards along the way that you can use on future Amazon purchases. After all, the Amazon Prime Secured Card lets you build credit while you shop with the giant retailer that offers as many as 12 million products on their platform.
Since you can easily link your Amazon Prime Secured Card to your Amazon.com account for easy payments, the entire process should be painless once you get started.
Here are some additional benefits you should know about:
Solid starting rewards rate on Amazon purchases
After you’re approved for the Amazon Prime Secured Card and you put down a minimum of $100 as collateral for your account, you can begin earning 2% back on all Amazon purchases with an eligible Prime membership. This earning rate can add up quickly if you spend a lot on Amazon every month — especially if you use the platform for everyday purchases or grocery delivery.
This rate is relatively high compared to other secured credit cards – many of which offer no ongoing rewards – and gives you a great opportunity to earn a little more back with each dollar you spend. Given the wide variety of goods available on Amazon, you can enjoy an above-average cash back rate on both everyday purchases and the occasional splurge. For instance, if you spend $2,000 annually on purchases made at Amazon.com as a Prime member, you’ll earn $40 back in rewards.
Boosted rewards after year one
After you’ve had the Amazon Prime Secured Card and demonstrated responsible credit use for 12 months, you may have the chance to unlock some “store card” benefits on your card. This includes an upgraded earning rate of 5% back on Amazon.com purchases.
Earning 5% back on a secured card is noteworthy, as even the best secured credit cards earn 2% to 3% back in bonus categories at most. If you have a limited credit history or are on the road to recovering past financial missteps, you won’t have much to earn at such a high cash back. Although it will take you one year of responsible use to upgrade from the 2% to the 5% rate, this level of cash back potential is a big selling point for the Prime Secured Card.
No annual fee
The Amazon Prime Secured Card does not charge an annual fee, which is a nice benefit when you consider the fact it’s a credit-building card. Some secured cards and nearly all unsecured credit-building cards charge annual fees, often adding up to $50 or more per year. The fact that you can build credit and earn rewards on such a wide variety of goods at Amazon.com at no cost (as long as you pay your bill on time and in full each month) wins the card big points.
Low, fixed APR
This card also charges a fixed 10% APR if you carry a balance. This interest rate is far lower than the average interest rate across all credit cards, which is currently a little over 16%. While you should avoid carrying a balance – especially on a secured card, since this would be akin to borrowing money from yourself – this is a very forgiving APR.
Why you might want a different card
The Amazon Prime Secured Card can definitely make sense if you already shop with the retailer as a Prime member and you’re looking for a way to build credit and earn rewards, but there are still some downsides to consider. Depending on your financial situation, the cost of a Prime membership and the required security deposit may put the card out of reach, and as a “closed-loop” retail card that you can only use on Amazon.com, the Amazon Prime Secured card is inherently inflexible compared to traditional secured cards.
You can only use this card for Amazon purchases
While the Amazon Prime Secured Card can be useful if you spend a lot on Amazon already, just remember that this card can’t be used in emergency situations the way other secured cards can. For example, you can’t use your Amazon Prime Secured Card to pay an emergency car repair bill or pay for past due medical bills.
You can use your Amazon Prime Secured Card on Amazon.com, and that’s it.
Low maximum credit limit
Although it’s typical for a secured card to have a maximum amount you can deposit as collateral (which usually determines your credit limit), the Prime Secured card has a relatively low maximum limit. Even if you’re approved to deposit $1,000 to get the card’s maximum credit limit (also $1,000), it may be difficult to keep your credit utilization in check, since you’ll have less room to make purchases without having a negative impact. You can use tools like our credit utilization calculator to find out what your credit utilization ratio is.
If you plan to make a lot of purchases with your secured card, consider a high-limit secured card that gives you the option of putting down more money to secure a higher credit limit. This can help keep your credit utilization in check and fast-track your credit-building efforts.
Amazon Prime membership required
Also note that earning 2% back with this card requires an Amazon Prime membership. This membership will set you back $119 per year, which only makes sense if you shop with the retailer often and take advantage of benefits like Prime Video and free two-day shipping.
To offset this membership fee, you’ll need to spend at least $6,000 in the first year on purchases made on Amazon.com while earning 2% back in rewards. That’s an incredibly high amount – especially given this is an unsecured credit card in the hands of a new cardholder trying to establish credit. Whether this card is worth it to you will be mostly determined by how much you value a Prime membership.
After the first year (assuming you qualify for the enhanced earning rate of 5%), offsetting the Prime annual fee will be easier with an annual spend of $2,400 to offset the $119 membership fee.
How does the Amazon Prime Secured Card compare to other secured credit cards?
If you need to build credit and you’re considering the Amazon Prime Secured Card, you should take the time to compare it to a few other cards with similar perks. The chart below shows how the Amazon Prime Secured Card compares to three similar card offerings — the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card and the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card.
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases
$300-$4,900 (based on deposit)
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
Amazon Prime Secured Card vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
If you’re looking for a secured credit card with the lowest deposit you can find, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is worth considering. This card lets you get started with as little as $49, which is less than half the $100 you have to come up with to get the Amazon Prime Secured Card. It’s also a Mastercard, so you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted worldwide.
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, but it doesn’t offer any rewards, either. Also note that the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has a much higher variable APR for purchases, which can lead to extremely high costs over time if you’re someone who frequently carries a balance.
Amazon Prime Secured Card vs. Discover it® Secured Credit Card
If you’re looking for a secured credit card that offers rewards, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is worth considering. This card offers 2% back on up to $1,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each quarter (then 1% back) and 1% back on other purchases, and for new cardholders Discover will even match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year. Since Discover is accepted at 99% of places that take credit cards in the U.S. and in 200 countries and territories, you could use this card for anything from travel to emergency purchases or bills.
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and you even get a free FICO score on your credit card bill each month. On the downside, the variable APR for purchases on this card is much higher than you’ll pay with the Amazon Prime Secured Card.
Amazon Prime Secured Card vs. Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is another secured card to consider if you want to earn rewards. This card gives you a flat 1.5% back on all your purchases, and there’s no annual fee required. The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is also a Visa, so you can use it everywhere you shop — and not just on Amazon.
Just keep in mind that the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card requires a minimum cash deposit of $300 to get started, which is three times higher than the Amazon Prime Secured Card but this gives you more wiggle room in your credit utilization. The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card also has a much higher variable APR that can sting if you wind up carrying a balance from time to time.
How to use the Amazon Prime Secured Card
- Put down a security deposit of $100 to $1,000 depending on your available cash and the credit limit you’re approved for. The higher the better to keep your utilization as low as possible
- Make sure to maintain an Amazon Prime membership so you can earn 2% back on Amazon purchases
- Pay your credit card bill in full each month to avoid paying interest
- Never pay your bill late, avoid maxing out your credit limit and use credit responsibly otherwise in order to boost your credit score as much as possible
- After 12 months, you may be invited to activate store card benefits like 5% back at Amazon.com
- Whenever your credit score has improved enough to qualify for a better credit card, you can upgrade to an unsecured credit card and get your security deposit back
Is the Amazon Prime Secured Card right for you?
The Amazon Prime Secured Card can help you build credit while you shop with this retailer, but the fact you can only use it on Amazon means it has limited utility. Make sure to consider all the card options you may be eligible for before you apply for a new credit card, including other secured cards from Discover, Visa and Mastercard.
Although expensive, a Prime membership can make this secured card relatively rewarding while you reap benefits like free two-day shipping. For regular Amazon customers who are already Prime members the card is a no-brainer, but don’t open up a Prime membership specifically for this card because it does have its shortcomings.
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