Amazon Prime Secured Card review: Build credit and earn rewards at Amazon.com

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Snapshot

3.4

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

The Amazon Prime Secured Card lets users build credit while they earn 2 percent back on eligible Amazon purchases. A security deposit of at least $100 is required to get started, and this card helps you build credit when others won’t. The best part? There’s no annual fee.

Synchrony Image

Amazon Secured Card

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

N/A

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

10.00% Non-variable

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History 

Amazon Prime Secured Card overview

The Amazon Prime Secured Card works like other secured credit cards in that you have to put down a cash deposit as collateral. However, this card is also available to a broader range of credit profiles, including people with a low credit score or no credit history at all.

Users can earn 2 percent back as they shop on Amazon.com. Free credit tracking tools make it easier to see your credit progress until you can upgrade to the unsecured Amazon Prime Store Card.

This secured card is best for people who frequently shop on Amazon, and you’ll only earn rewards at Amazon because it’s a closed-loop store credit card. Unlike other secured cards, the Amazon Prime Secured Card can only be used on eligible Amazon purchases, so you might not get as many chances to build credit and rack up rewards — or a balance.

This could be an advantage or a drawback depending on your spending habits. It’s worth considering other credit building cards’ wider acceptance, better rewards rates and shorter card upgrade review periods before committing a security deposit to this card.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • You can report your credit balances and payments to the three credit bureaus, which will help you build credit and improve your score with time.
  • This card has low rates and fees — there is no annual fee, only a $5 late payment fee and a 10 percent fixed APR.
  • Earn solid 2 percent cash back on eligible Amazon.com and Amazon physical store purchases, including Amazon Fresh.
  • After you have used your secured card responsibly for 12 months, you can upgrade to an unsecured store version of this card that earns 5 percent back on eligible purchases.

Cons

  • Although there’s no annual fee, this card requires an Amazon Prime membership, which costs at least $139 per year.
  • Requires a $100 to $1,000 security deposit (in $50 intervals), which means you’ll need to provide a hefty deposit to secure a larger credit limit.
  • Does not provide a sign-up bonus or intro APR offer while some secured cards carry welcome offers.
  • It’s a private-label card, so it can only be used for Amazon-related purchases.

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Earn 2 percent back on Amazon purchases with an eligible Amazon Prime membership
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 10.00 percent fixed APR

Current welcome offer

The Amazon Prime Secured Card does not offer a welcome bonus of any kind, and that’s typical among secured credit cards. However, it’s worth noting that a few secured cards do carry a rewards welcome offer or intro APR offers. In fact, even closed-loop store cards tend to offer at least introductory rewards rates, financing options or other perks.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is probably the best example of a secured card with a welcome offer: It matches all the cash back you earn within your first year. It isn’t a red flag if a secured card doesn’t carry an intro offer, but it’s a bit disappointing to see that Amazon doesn’t offer an incentive to choose a credit-building card with purchase capabilities limited to its marketplace.

Rewards rate

Cardholders who choose to build credit with the Amazon Prime Secured Card also get the benefit of earning 2 percent back on purchases, provided they are Amazon Prime members. Although this seems like you’re earning cash back directly, you’re actually earning 2 percent points back as an extra middle step, which can then be redeemed for cash back.

It’s important to note that the Amazon Prime Secured Card is a private-label card that can’t be used for anything other than eligible Amazon purchases. For example, you cannot use it at grocery stores, gas stations or restaurants like you can with most other secured credit cards.

How you earn

Sign up to earn 2 percent back in rewards on eligible Amazon.com purchases. That’s a solid rate for Amazon spending, particularly since it applies to grocery delivery purchases made through Amazon Fresh.

You’ll also earn 2 percent back at other physical Amazon stores like Amazon Fresh, Amazon Go and Amazon Style. It’s worth mentioning that you won’t earn rewards at Whole Foods Market, which is the only physical Amazon store with widespread locations that many cardholders can access.

Only earning 2 percent back with a single retailer isn’t the best rewards structure you’ll find among secured or credit-building cards, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, especially if you’re a big Amazon shopper. However, other Amazon credit cards carry much stronger rewards rates. For example, if you have a fair credit score — Amazon defines this as a credit score above 640 — you could qualify for the closed-loop Amazon Prime Store Card and 5 percent back on the same Amazon purchases instead.

Amazon also occasionally offers extra reward opportunities to earn 5 percent to 15 percent back on select products (visible on the product page or checkout screen), so you may have opportunities to earn boosted rates in any case.

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Bankrate insight
It could take up to two billing cycles for your earned rewards to appear in your account, and up to another two billing cycles to receive your rewards if you redeem for a statement credit. That’s much longer than other rewards cards, which typically add earned rewards to your account within a few days up to the end of the billing cycle you earned them.

How to redeem

Once you are ready to cash in the rewards you have earned, you can redeem rewards directly for Amazon.com purchases during checkout. You can also redeem your rewards points as a one-time statement credit, or you can set up your account to automatically redeem your available rewards balance for a statement credit.

Automatic cash back redemption is a convenient option that many issuers don’t offer. However, you can’t set your statement credit to automatically redeem on a specific date or at a certain rewards amount. Instead, your statement credit will appear at the end of the billing cycle after you earned them. This means you essentially won’t see the cash back you earned from a Prime Day shopping spree in July until the beginning of September, if you set your rewards to redeem automatically. However, they may not be automatically redeemed until October or November if it takes two full billing cycles for the rewards to even appear in your account.

The card’s issuer, Synchrony Bank, notes that your account has to be in good standing in order to redeem rewards.

How much are the rewards worth?

Although this card earns points instead of cash back, Amazon displays your rewards balance as a dollar balance. Each point is worth $1 apiece, so your 2 percent back rewards rate translates to $2 in rewards for every $100 you spend — or 2 cents (0.002 points) per dollar you spend.

Other cardholder perks

The Amazon Prime Secured Card doesn’t offer many benefits, but this is common among secured credit cards. Since this card is mostly for building credit with the secondary benefit of earning rewards, most of its perks center around these two features.

TransUnion CreditView credit tracking

Like many other secured cards for building credit, the Amazon Prime Secured provides a way to learn more about how to improve your credit score. You’ll have access to the TransUnion CreditView dashboard, which lets you view your credit score, track your progress and dig into educational resources like credit scenario simulators and credit score factors breakdowns.

However, TransUnion doesn’t provide credit monitoring services for free like other issuers, and it uses the VantageScore credit scoring model instead of the more popular FICO Score. If a creditor uses a FICO-based model, they may base their lending decisions on a different a credit profile and score than what you saw from TransUnion.

Upgrade your card after 12 months

You may be eligible to upgrade to an Amazon Store Card after you use the Amazon Prime Secured Card responsibly for 12 months. For the most part, this means keeping debt at a reasonable level and always paying your bill on time.

If you upgrade to an Amazon Store Card, you’ll get your full security deposit back and boost your rewards rate to 5 percent back on Amazon purchases. On the other hand, the Amazon Store Card is still a private-label store card, so you still can’t use it for purchases outside Amazon.

This might not seem like much of an upgrade considering general-purpose secured cards can graduate to an unsecured card much faster and can be used outside a single retailer. For example, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and can upgrade to an unsecured credit line in as little as six months of responsible use.

Promotional 0 percent APR offers

Amazon may occasionally offer an “equal monthly payment” promotional 0 percent APR on eligible purchases at the checkout screen if you currently don’t have a balance on your card.

However, “0 percent APR” may be a bit misleading since it doesn’t work like a typical 0 percent intro APR on purchases. Instead, it adds your payment plan’s fixed monthly payment to your balance’s original minimum payment so that you must pay off your balance by the time the promotional APR period ends. This means it works more like deferred interest since you could accrue additional costs if you don’t settle your balance in time.

But, instead of owing back interest, a monthly late fee is added on top of your card’s minimum payment until you pay off your balance. These total additional late fees also charge the 10.00 percent APR. Naturally, Amazon also notes that these purchases you’re paying off won’t be eligible to earn rewards or have reward redemption go toward paying them off.

This alternative promotional APR offer could add significant costs to your balance if you’re not careful, so be sure to assess the payment plan carefully.

Rates and fees

The Amazon Prime Secured Card has considerably lower rates and fees than other credit-building cards. It has no annual fee and a late fee of just $5, which is usually around $40 on other cards.

On the other hand, there is a hefty annual cost if you don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Prime costs at least $139 per year if you pay annually, or up to about $180 if you pay monthly. This can be hard to make up for with your 2 percent rewards since you’d need to spend almost $600 per month on Amazon purchases just to offset the minimum annual membership cost.

On the bright side, the card also carries a fixed APR instead of a variable interest rate. This is an excellent deal nowadays since inflation has been increasing the prime rate and variable APRs. What’s more, the fixed 10.00 percent APR is considerably lower than the average credit card APR.

The card’s minimum security deposit and maximum credit limit are excellent as well. The $100 minimum security deposit (based on approval) is well below the typical $200 to $300 minimum. The up to $1,000 maximum deposit would give you extra breathing room to maintain a positive credit utilization ratio, if you decide to put down that much.

How the Amazon Prime Secured Card compares to other secured credit cards

Before you sign up for the Amazon Prime Secured Card for the purpose of building credit, you should check out other secured credit cards and what they have to offer. The following options also let you build credit and earn rewards with no annual fee.

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Amazon Secured Card

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3.4

Annual fee

N/A

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

No Credit History
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Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match™

Rewards rate

1%–2%

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Bank of America Image

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

No Credit History

Amazon Prime Secured Card vs. the Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Since the Discover it Secured Credit Card is on the Discover card network, you can use it nearly anywhere you shop in-person or online. You’ll also earn cash back on everything you buy, and Discover will essentially double all the rewards you earn after year one thanks to its first-year Cashback Match offer.

The Discover it Secured is also a low-cost option since there is no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, penalty APR or fee on your first late payment (then up to $41). However, it’s worth noting that you need a security deposit of at least $200 with this card. This is double the minimum deposit for the Amazon Prime Secured Card, but keep in mind that it could be refunded sooner since the Discover may upgrade you to an unsecured credit line after seven months of responsible use.

Amazon Prime Secured Card vs. the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

First off, you should know that the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is a Visa credit card that can be used nearly anywhere around the world. You also earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases with no annual fee required, and your credit limit can be as high as $5,000 with an equal security deposit.

However, a minimum security deposit of $300 is required to get this card, which can make it a tough option if you need to build credit but cash is tight right now.

Best cards to pair with the Amazon Secured Card

If you decide to pair the Amazon Prime Secured Card with another card, you may be able to earn rewards on non-Amazon purchases and add even more depth to your credit history. We can suggest other secured cards on the market today that earn rewards, including the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card we profile above.

Just remember that you’ll have to make separate security deposits for each secured card you apply for, which could be a costly barrier considering both of the mentioned cards have higher minimum security deposit requirements. If you’re just learning the credit card ropes, it may also be wise to focus on building your credit with one card, and aim for a stellar unsecured card down the road, instead of applying to several secured cards for maximum rewards.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Amazon Prime Secured Card worth it?

If you want to build credit with a credit card and you are already an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon Prime Secured Card could be the right card for you. The fact you can only use it for Amazon purchases could be a pro or a con depending on your needs. For example, you may feel limited by this fact and wind up wishing you got a secured card that’s a Visa, Mastercard or Discover card instead. On the flip side, you might feel like an Amazon-only card lets you build credit in a slow, deliberate way without extra temptation to spend.

There are plenty of other secured credit cards with stronger rewards and credit-building features on other networks. Even so, the Amazon Prime Secured Card might be a great fit if you’re a frequent Amazon shopper and you want a low-interest rewards card to build credit on a portion of your purchases.