Giving its customers yet another reason to pay the $99 annual fee for Prime membership, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) announced a new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card that awards Prime members a 5% point payback on all purchases at Amazon.com along with point rewards at other merchants.
Amazon automatically will upgrade existing Prime members who have an Amazon Rewards Visa to the new card. The Amazon Rewards card pays a 3% point reward for purchases made at Amazon.com and does not require Prime membership. Both cards offer 2% in points rewards at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% on all other card purchases.
At a 5% reward rate ($5 per $100 in purchases), a Prime membership would be free if a consumer spent $2,000 a year at Amazon. In 2015 the average U.S. household spent about $2,000 on gasoline, so the 2% rewards deal is worth $400 and the 1% reward on all other spending would further reduce the out-of-pocket amount a customer would have to pay to recoup the Prime membership fee. Points may be redeemed at any time, and every 100 points cuts your purchase price by $1.00.
The Amazon Prime rewards card carries an interest rate of 14.74% to 22.74%, depending on a customer’s creditworthiness. There is no annual fee for the card, and late payment fees range from $15 to a maximum of $37. There is no foreign transaction fee. Note that this is not a cashback card; it is a rewards point card and the points may only be used at Amazon.com.
Another major retail that put a massive credit card rewards scheme into play recently is Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST). The company ended its long-standing exclusive deal with American Express and did an exclusive deal with Citi and Visa. The Costco Anywhere Visa card offers Costco members 4% cash back on gasoline purchases at any service station nationwide, 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all purchases at Costco stores and the Costco website, and 1% cashback on all other purchases. Costco does not charge an annual fee for the card and offers a 0% introductory rate for seven months, according to NerdWallet. The APR on the card varies and begins at 15.74%. The penalty rate can rise as high as 29.99%. Costco also charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Costco pays earned rewards once a year on a customer’s February statement, and customers can only redeem their annual rewards payments in person at Costco stores.
Prime members who shop a lot at Amazon’s website are the company’s target with this card. Because points can only be spent at Amazon, the company’s top line benefits from the points customers build up at gas stations and every other retail store or website where they shop before spending at Amazon. Sure it’s a discount to Amazon’s selling price, but selling for a tiny margin has never bothered Amazon before and almost surely doesn’t this time.