On Jan. 20, 2021, Chase announced a new card art option for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card featuring Whole Foods Market and added a limited-time sign-up bonus offer for those who prefer to shop at Whole Foods in-store.
Amazon has become a leader in grocery shopping during the pandemic, with consumers avoiding grocery stores due to health safety concerns â not to mention the convenience of shopping from a web browser. Amazon Prime members can enjoy speedy free delivery, as well as get access to online shopping at Whole Foods Market and special member deals when shopping in-store.
They can also count on extra savings if they carry the Amazon Prime Rewards card from Chase â or if theyâre looking to apply in the next few weeks.
Hereâs what you need to know.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card
Our rating: 3.8Â out of 5
Score required: Good to excellent
Type of card: Cash back
Spending categories: Amazon, Whole Foods, restaurants, gas stations, drug stores
- 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases
- 2% back on restaurant, gas station and drug store purchases
- 1% back on other purchases
- $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval or $100 statement credit after spending $100 at Whole Foods in first 2 months
- No annual fee
Our take: While the Amazon Prime Rewards card offers excellent cash back on Amazon and Whole Food purchases, it might not be the best choice for customers who don’t currently have a Prime membership and aren’t looking to subscribe.
A new Whole Foods card design and limited-time offer
Chase introduced a new card design option for new Amazon Prime Rewards cardholders, featuring Whole Foods Market art. New cardmembers with an eligible Prime membership can choose the new design when they apply for the card. If youâre an existing cardholder and would like to switch to the new design option, you can call in to request a new card after Jan. 22, 2021.
If you frequently shop at Whole Foods in-store, the new limited-time introductory offer can also be exciting news for you. Through March 3, 2021, new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardholders can earn a $100 statement credit after spending $100 in Whole Foods Market stores in the first two months from account opening. Alternatively, they can still choose the standard $70 Amazon gift card offer as a sign-up bonus.
Considering the standard bonus is lower, the new temporary offer might be a better deal. On the other hand, if you avoid shopping in-store or normally use Amazon Fresh for buying groceries, the gift card might make more sense for you.
Should I start shopping at Whole Foods if I have an Amazon credit card?
If you already shop at Whole Foods, the 5% back with the Amazon Prime Rewards Signature Visa and 10% off specially marked items is a good deal. The discounts, though, donât make Whole Foods cheaper than other grocery stores.
In fact, according to a study from 2019, Whole Foods remains the most expensive grocery store with its prices at 34% above Walmart, which was reported to have the lowest prices overall. If your goal is to save on groceries, Whole Foods is evidently not the best option â even if you carry the Amazon Prime card.
Other cards to consider
The Amazon Prime Card isnât the only option you should consider if you often shop on Amazon or at Whole Foods.
See related: Which is the best card to use on Amazon.com purchases?
For instance, with the Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa card, you can get a $50 Amazon gift card upon approval and earn 3% on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% percent at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% on all else. If you donât have a Prime membership and arenât looking to subscribe, this is a good option, since the card doesnât require for a cardholder to be a member.
If you do have a membership and shop on Amazon a lot, the Amazon Prime card is a better deal. With 5% for purchases made at Whole Foods and on Amazon, 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% on all else, this card is hard to beat for Amazon and Whole Foods lovers.
If youâre looking for a card to buy groceries, consider the Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express that could save you more than with the Amazon Prime Visa at Whole Foods. Why? Blue Cash Preferred cardholders earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%).
See related: Best credit cards for grocery shopping
Now you can stack your rewards at Whole Foods, earning cash back and the limited-time bonus with the Amazon Prime Card, and you can get extra savings from the loyalty program. Whether it makes sense to shop at Whole Foods, even with rewards cards and the loyalty program, is up to you.
Itâs shopping season, and millions of us who arenât out shopping in stores right now are sitting in front of our computers buying out the internet. It doesnât matter if youâre shopping for groceries or gifts â if shopping is on your to-do list this month, youâre in luck.
With retail stores scrambling for shoppers, the cash-back craze gone wild and banks offering up to 10 points per dollar on some purchases to entice consumers to use their credit cards, the opportunities for stacking deals upon deals has reached fever pitch.
Right now, there are more stackable offers for online shopping than Iâve ever seen in all my years of points wrangling. There are so many offers, in fact, that some days I find myself in shopping paralysis trying to decide which credit card to pair with which offer and accompanying points or cash back portal to get the best return. These are the good kinds of 2020 problems that put money back into your pocket.
See related: Not traveling anytime soon? Hereâs what do to with your points and miles
Getting started with deal-stacking
If youâve never heard of deal stacking, itâs just a fancy term for using multiple coupons or deals to maximize your savings or earnings on one purchase. In the travel-rewards world, we also like to call it the double or triple dip.
Getting started with deal stacking is as easy as considering each and every one of these three steps or âstacksâ anytime you make a credit card purchase.
Stack 1: Check for credit card offers and register if needed
Always choose the card that will earn the most points per dollar spent in your purchase category. And donât forget to register for any special offers from your credit card to earn bonus points or discounts. These offers are usually easy to find by logging into your credit card account.
Stack 2: Shop using cash back- or points-earning portals
Before you buy online, always access the online store via a shopping portal like Ibotta or Rakutan rewards if youâre looking for cash back. If youâre collecting points, try the portal of your favorite airline, hotel group or bank program.
A tool like Cash Back Monitor can help you decide which portal will offer you the best return for each purchase youâre planning to make.
Stack 3: Scan your receipts for more rewards
After you make your purchase, scan your receipt into an app like Fetch Rewards or CoinOut to accrue points that can be turned into gift cards for more shopping â and even more savings.
Deal-stacking in practice
My friend Angel Trinh over at Pennywise Traveler is a rock star on deal-stacking and loves to share tutorials on her stacking successes. Because points-stacking is best explained through example, hereâs how sheâs stacking up deals for her Amazon purchases this month using her American ExpressÂ® Gold Card.
Putting into practice the first stacking principle, when Trinh checked her American Express Gold Card account this month, she saw that she was targeted with an offer to earn 8 Membership Rewards points per dollar on Amazon purchases (up to 3,000 points). She registered her card for the offer, then set out to spend $375 â the amount it would take to max out the bonus to earn the full 3,000 points.
âFor American Express, the best way to maximize deal stacking and to save money is to add AmEx offers to your account,â Trinh explains. âYou can add a maximum of 100 offers to your account for discounts.â
In checking out, Trinh acted on this offer and opted to pay 1 Membership Reward point (a single cent) towards the cost of the items in her cart. Even though this was a single cent, it triggered a 10% discount on her full purchase! This offer added an additional savings of $37 back on the $375 spent to max out her 8x American Express offer â stacked on top of the 3,000 Membership Rewards points already earned.
After maxing out points and saving 10% using steps one and two, Trinhâs final deal-stack for her Amazon shopping was to check for additional cash back returns using Fetch Rewards.
Because Amazon receipts are only digital, no physical scanning is even required. You simply link your Amazon account to Fetch Rewards, and after youâve completed your online shopping, use the app to trigger an automatic scan for your Amazon receipts. The number of points earned varies based on what youâve purchased and from which store and allows you to cash out your accrued earnings with gift cards.
Deal-stacking is easy to start, not too hard to master and can certainly help you put more money back in your pocket â while also putting presents under the Christmas tree this year. Happy holiday shopping!
Sending cash to friends and family? Before you reach for that credit card, grab a calculator. Itâs time to do a little math.
With most everything you purchase online or through apps, credit cards have the edge. With plastic, you have chargeback rights. If youâre overcharged or receive the wrong item, broken merchandise or nothing at all, your card issuer will make it right. And if you use a rewards card, you collect points or miles, too. Win-win.
But itâs different story when youâre sending money through peer-to-peer platforms. Many of them (like Google Pay, Popmoney and Zelle), donât allow consumers to use a credit card to send cash.
Others (like Cash App, PayPal and Venmo), allow credit cards but also charge a fee for the privilege â often about 3%.
See related: How to choose a P2P payment service
The hidden costs of using credit cards to send money
Choose a credit card to send money and you might also end up paying additional fees to your card issuer. Thatâs because the combination of some peer-to-peer apps with certain cards are coded as cash advances, rather than purchases.
For many cards, that cash advance code triggers a higher interest rate that kicks in the moment you make the transaction, as well as a separate cash advance fee thatâs often $10 or 5% of the transaction â whichever is higher. (Currently, the average interest rate for cash advances is 24.8%, while the average APR for purchases is 16.05%.)
So the combination of peer-to-peer service fees, credit card cash advance fees and that higher interest rate (with no grace period) could make sending a few hundred dollars a bit more costly than youâd planned.
No chargeback rights with credit cards
The real kicker: Unlike other venues, you donât have chargeback rights when you use credit cards to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
When you present your credit card in an online or brick-and-mortar store, thereâs a merchant involved â and the law provides chargeback rights for your protection in case you donât get what you were promised in the deal. But in a peer-to-peer money transfer, thereâs no merchant, so currently the laws donât give consumers any chargeback rights, says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports.
âThe chargeback right requires a merchant,â says Tetreault. âOne of the hoops a consumer has to jump through is to try and work it out with the merchant.â
If you use a peer-to-peer service and send the wrong amount or send the money to the wrong person, most platforms advise that the only way to get it back is to contact the recipient and ask them to return it. And thatâs often the same whether you use a credit card, debit card, bank account or funded account on the platform.
âBe doubly sure when youâre sending the money that youâre putting in the correct information,â says John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumers League. âItâs still a buyer beware world when it comes to peer-to-peer.â
If youâre sending money and want to use a credit card, it pays to do a little sleuthing first. Check out the peer-to-peer site. Does it allow users to send money with a credit card? If so what, if any, fees does it charge?
On some platforms (PayPal is one), you could see similar fees for using a debit card â while sending from a bank account or funded account on the platform is free.
The good news is that many peer-to-peer platforms clearly disclose it when thereâs an extra charge to use a credit card, says Tetreault. With Venmo, for example, youâll get a pop-up message.
Harder to decipher: Will credit card transactions on the platform be treated as a cash advance? If your preferred platform doesnât post this information, you might need to contact customer service. (And how quickly and easily you get an answer can tell you a lot, too.)
Ask your card issuer the same question: Are peer-to-peer money transfers on the platform youâve chosen treated as a cash advance? If they are, whatâs the interest rate, and whatâs the cash advance fee?
âWhat I would suggest is to ask that question, via email, of your financial institution,â says Tetreault. âIt may be in their FAQs. And you want to save that email. If you have it in writing, if thereâs an issue later, youâre better positioned to contest that fee.â
But âthe hard truth is you may not be able to find out ahead of time,â she says.
Another solution: Opt to use a credit card issued by a credit union.
âWith credit unions, the APR is usually the sameâ for purchases and cash advances, says John Bratsakis, president and CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association.
Likewise, with American Express cards you pay your regular interest rate and no cash advance fees on peer-to-peer transfers, says Elizabeth Crosta, vice president of public affairs for American Express.
And credit cards from U.S. Bank register peer-to-peer money transfers as regular purchases â with no cash advance fees or cash advance APRs, says Rick Rothacker, spokesperson for the bank.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
Whatâs your reason for using a credit card?
Take a good look at the reason youâre using a credit card, too. If you want chargeback rights, thatâs not an option. If youâre doing it for the rewards, will the value of those points or miles be eaten up by extra fees or a higher interest rate you have to pay to use the card?
And if youâre using a card because you donât have the cash, that might be a good reason to rethink the idea of sending money in the first place.
Thatâs a huge red flag, says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations at theÂ National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
âThe need to convert credit into cash is what really gets my attention â because that hints at a lack of savings,â he said. âItâs a reality a lot of people are facing, especially now.â
Cash advances arenât as expensive or risky as payday loans and car title loans, but they should be among your last resorts. If you’re looking for short-term relief, you could ask your credit card issuer for help, or find out if you qualify for a personal loan. You could also borrow from a family member or trusted friend, but be wary of the potential relationship toll if you can’t pay them back.
Getting cash from credit cards
Fifty-two percent of Americans report that the pandemic has damaged their finances, according to a recent survey by the NFCC. More than a fifth of those had to tap savings for everyday expenses, while 16% increased their credit card spending.
And thatâs a sign of financial stress, says McClary. âIt means that, in some situations, they have run out of savings.â
There are ways you can use your card to get cash, though.
Cashing in rewards
Some rewards cards from issuers such as Chase, Bank of America and US Bank let you deposit cash-back rewards directly to your bank account.
And Wells Fargo also will let you deposit its Go Far Rewards directly into another Wells Fargo customerâs account, says Sarah DuBois, spokesperson for the bank.
Many credit cards let you convert rewards into retail gift cards. So a pile of points can help a friend or family member buy much-needed groceries or a few holiday presents.
Or simply âbuy a gift card for someone,â says Bratsakis.
Retailer-specific gift cards and gift cards issued through local and regional retail associations and malls often come with no fees â meaning every dollar you spend goes toward your gift.
While you can get a cash advance or use convenience checks from your card issuer, both those options often come with fees and higher interest rates. Not a smart money move, especially in the current economy.
While some lenders may offer convenience checks with deferred interest, thatâs not the same as âno interest,â says Bratsakis. Also, if you donât pay the loan in full, will you owe the full interest retroactively?
âThatâs where consumers have to be careful,â he says. With a convenience check or even a cash advance, âthatâs usually where consumers can get themselves into trouble if they canât pay it off and get hit with deferred interest.â
See related: What is deferred interest?
When it comes to peer-to-peer payments, cash really is king. You can then put it into a funded account with the money transfer platform or your bank account. And most peer-to-peer platforms let you do this for free.
âThe safest way to use these services is to send money person-to-person and be diligent about getting all the details correct so it doesnât go to the wrong person,â says Tetreault.
Only send to people you trust and know in real life, she says. âAnd before sending money make sure you understand what, if any, fees you might incur.â