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Best credit cards for online shopping
Shop securely and save on extra fees when shopping online.
Paying with plastic can be a convenient way to make purchases online, but there are some cards that are better to use than others. While there’s no single best credit card for online shopping, many come with protections or bonuses for making purchases online.
Our pick: Target REDcard credit card
Target REDcard™ Credit CardRead more
The best credit cards for online shopping
The best online store credit cards tend to have no annual fees. That’s good news, as it means your rewards are all upside.
Before spending with a card, check whether there are any merchant exclusions. Some purchases may not qualify for bonus rewards.
Best overall for online shopping: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
One of the few downsides of this card is the $2,500 quarterly cap on bonus-reward spending. If you spend big on online purchases, you might get more out of a card that doesn’t limit your rewards.
Examples of merchants that qualify for online shopping
Merchant categories for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card‘s online shopping category include but aren’t limited to:
- Clothing and apparel
- Department stores
- Discount stores
- Specialty retail stores
- Sporting goods
Examples of qualifying merchants
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Microsoft Xbox Live
Best for overall cashback rate for online shopping: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card bonus categories
Here are the categories in which you can choose to earn 5% and 2% cash back.
5% cashback categories
- TV, Internet and streaming services
- Fast food
- Cell phone providers
- Department stores
- Home utilities
- Select clothing stores
- Electronics stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Movie theaters
- Gyms/fitness centers
- Furniture stores
- Ground transportation
2% cashback categories
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
Best for holiday spending: Discover it® Cash Back
Using the Discover it® Cash Back card, you’ll earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% back after that. Unlike the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card card however, you don’t get to choose your categories from a broader list. That means your 5% earning potential will be locked in to just the retailers offered for that quarter. However, these categories tend to align with the season, so you can usually expect at least one solid online retailer in time for the holidays.
Best for flat-rate rewards: PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
Other credit cards for retailer-specific shopping
Here are a few online store credit cards if you like to shop at certain retailers.
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, and 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores. You’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to apply.
- Target REDcard™ Credit Card.
Save 5% at Target and Target.com. Get free two-day shipping on eligible items at Target.com, and get extended returns.
- Walmart Rewards Mastercard.
Earn 5% back at Walmart.com, on the Walmart app and on grocery pickup and delivery. Earn 2% back at Walmart stores, Walmart and Murphy USA gas stations, and restaurants — as well as on travel.
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi.
Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas, 3% on restaurants and eligible travel and 2% on Costco and Costco.com purchases.
How we chose our best cards
We looked for cards that offered standout rewards in online-shopping categories. We also chose retailer-specific cards with strong rewards.
What’s changed in 2019
On September 24, 2019, Walmart and Capital One introduced its new Walmart Rewards Mastercard. Since it’s a Mastercard, you can use it virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted.
How to compare credit cards for online shopping
- A rewards card with a high earn rate.
If you regularly spend online and usually pay your balance in full, a rewards credit card could be right for you. This type of card can help you earn points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. While most rewards or travel credit cards award 1 point per $1 spent, some offer a higher earn rate on overseas purchases, which could come in handy if you’re using your card to shop online with overseas merchants.
- General rewards card versus a cobranded store card.
If you like to spread your online credit shopping across a number of different merchants, you might prefer a general rewards card to ensure you get solid rewards no matter where you shop. But if you do the majority of your online shopping with a single merchant, such as Amazon or Target, consider a cobranded card. These cards often have more perks or higher earning rates associated with the parent store, such as the Target REDcard™ Credit Card.
- Low or 0% interest fees.
You might want to consider a card with a low ongoing interest rate or a promotional 0% offer on purchases if you struggle to repay your balance in full each month. Compare credit cards with 0% on purchases, but it’s important to remember that these revert to the much higher standard purchase rate when the offer ends.
- No currency conversion fees.
You should consider a credit card that doesn’t charge a currency conversion or foreign transaction fee if you frequently make purchases with foreign online merchants. Usually sitting between 3% and 5% of your transaction amount, these fees can quickly add up if you’re using your credit card to shop online. If the currency conversion fee was 3%, this means that a $500 purchases could add an additional $15 to your overall cost.
- Fraud protection.
It’s standard for credit cards to have protection in place to guard you against scammers and fraudsters, but you can do your part too by opting for a card that is linked to Verified by Visa or Mastercard ID Theft Protection. But remember that most insurances, such as purchase protection and extended warranty, don’t apply to items bought online.
Compare online shopping credit cards
The pros and cons of using a credit card for online shopping
Online credit card shopping has become a standard, everyday routine for many consumers. With that said, there are both pros and cons to using a credit card to shop online.
- Avoid currency conversion fees.
If you get a credit card with no or low currency conversion fees, you can make significant savings while making purchases with overseas retailers.
- Earn while you spend.
If your credit card comes with a rewards system, you can earn points as you spend. These points can be redeemed for cash back on your account, travel rewards and merchandise and products from the rewards program online store.
- Wide acceptance and protection.
If your credit card is linked to one of the larger providers, such as Visa or Mastercard, you can make purchases internationally. These networks often come with additional security, such as Verified by Visa or Mastercard ID Theft Protection, giving you an extra layer of protection when shopping online.
- Accumulating debt.
Unlike a debit card or a prepaid card, a credit card is not linked to your own funds. So if you’re an impulsive or frequent spender, using your credit card for online purchases could quickly build up debt on your card. If you struggle to repay your balance in full, make sure to consider a card with low or no interest on purchases.
- Security risks.
While credit card security measures are in place to protect your finances against fraud or theft, no online purchase is entirely risk-free. Always research the site’s legitimacy and security before making a purchase.
- Foreign fees.
If your card doesn’t offer either a low or no currency conversion fee, your spending can increase significantly when making a purchase in a foreign currency.
Using a prepaid card to shop online
Consider a prepaid debit card if you want a secure way to make purchases online that isn’t tied to your savings account. You can load a prepaid card with funds and use them to make purchases.
If you’re trying to curb spending, this is a good way to stay within a budget. You can only spend the amount that’s loaded on the card and will need to reload more funds if your balance runs low.
As these cards are usually Mastercard or Visa products, you can use them both online and in-store at millions of locations around the world.
Potential drawbacks to using a prepaid card for online shopping
You may have to pay monthly fees, as well as fees when you want to reload your card. There may also be costs for activities like checking your balance or letting your card become inactive.
- It’s not credit.
You don’t have the opportunity to make purchases now and pay them off later as you would with a credit card.
- You need to keep track of your balance carefully.
While you might have a high credit limit on your credit card, you might not load a large amount onto a prepaid debit card. You’ll need to recalculate how much you have on your prepaid card after every online purchase.
Shopping online with a credit card is easy, convenient and can save you some cash over the long run when you pick the right card. Compare credit cards to find one that best suits your online purchasing needs.
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