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Amazon.com Visa – Is There a Catch?

I’ve been meticulously checking the sites that my traffic has been coming from the last few days, so that I can thank all of the people that have been linking me. It’s a tad bit on the obsessive side, but I want to make sure people know how grateful I am. While doing this, I noticed one visitor came upon the site by doing a Google search for “amazon visa $30 off. Is there a catch?”

I don’t know if you’re still around, Google-searching-visitor, but I wanted to answer your question. Yes, there is a catch. The catch is that you’re applying for a credit card! I don’t know how much you looked into the offer, but I’m going to explain everything I know about the card from having it for the past year and half.

When you look at your shopping cart on Amazon.com, they’ll try and tempt you by saving “Save $30 on this order by signing up for an Amazon.com Visa!” But is this a good idea? The answer: absolutely maybe. (Yeah, I stole the term “absolutely maybe” from Stephen Colbert.)

If you’re already in the market for a credit card, like I was when I got this card, then it might be a good idea – if you shop at Amazon a lot. The card offers Amazon points for every dollar you spend – 1 point per dollar for normal purchases, and 3 points per dollar spent at Amazon. When you reach 2500 points, Amazon will automatically mail you a gift certificate to their site for $25. In other words, it’s 1% “cash” back on normal purchases, and 3% on Amazon purchases (including money spent on shipping!).

This is good if you’re a regular Amazon shopper. But if you rarely shop at Amazon, your return is only going to be 1% – you can find cards with better rewards than that, cards that offer 3% on groceries, gas, and other everyday purchases.

The card carries no annual fee, by the way. The interest rate is 0% for the first six months, including balance transfers and purchases – after six months, it will be about 17%, which is variable, although I will say it hasn’t moved in the time I’ve had it, for what that’s worth.

There are actually three versions of this card, but from what I can tell, they’re exactly the same. Besides the regular version, they also offer a student card and a business card. I don’t think they offered these at the time I signed up, or else I would have applied for the student card. They really aren’t functionally any different, they might have different designs on the actual card, I really don’t know.

If you apply for the card during checkout, it will apply the $30 off to your purchase immediately. If you apply any other time, it will credit your first bill for $30 – so if you spend $30 on the card the first month, your bill will be for $0.

So, back to the catch? It’s a credit card! If you’re not responsible with credit, then it’s a big catch. Can you still get this card for the $30 off if you’re bad with credit? Yes, but you have to do it very carefully. Get the card, get the $30 off, pay any extra on your bill when it comes, and CUT UP THE CREDIT CARD WHEN IT COMES AND NEVER USE IT (or use some other method for not using your card). If you use it anyways, and get yourself into trouble, it’s not my fault. I told you how it is!

14 responses to “Amazon.com Visa – Is There a Catch?”

  1. Kevin

    You’re exactly right. I purchased an iPod mini back in August of 2005, Amazon had the cheapest I could find, and I wanted to start to build my credit. I got the card, saved the $30, and use it only now for my regular bills like gas and electricity. I accrue $1 for every dollar I spend (which I was going to spend anyways), and every so often I get a $25 gift certificate when I hit 2500 points.

    But! It’s all about whether or not your can manage credit.

  2. Stephanie

    Kevin: Thanks for stopping by! You did what I did, only better – I got the card to save money on an Amazon purchase, and then paid the card off every month for a while, and then I started to slip…

    I’m paying for it now, but I haven’t really put anything on the card since September – except $4 in Amazon shipping (to get the triple points, the rest of the purchase was paid for with one of the $25 gift certificates), and the other day I absolutely had to use it to put gas in my car, or else I couldn’t get home! But also made sure to pay extra amounts into my bill to make up for putting those purchases on the card.

    I probably should have cut it up 6 months ago, when I started using it too much…

    I’m glad you’re doing well with it, though! Kudos to you!

  3. This Little Piggy

    I LOVE the Amazon Visa card. It’s now the only one I use. They must have periods of double points because I’m getting those $25 gift certificates one after another.

    I pay the balance off every pay day and use the gift certificate for gifts or items I WANT but don’t actually NEED.

  4. Carol Jenkins

    I received an Amazon Visa and things were great for a few months. I was paying online and they were sending me email notices of payment due, which all of my creditors that I pay online do. THEN, they stopped sending me email notices and caught me. I got the late fee waived, and I always pay my bill IN FULL, but after you get stuck like this somehow they keep adding interest fees on. I think it was a scam to recoup their Amazon rewards. I am going online EVERY DAY now to make sure that I am paid up and will no longer use this card.

  5. Peter

    Just want to let everyone know that there is a paperless billing option. For reasons I do not recall, I signed up for this and forgot about it. After several months of not using it, I started to use it but forgot I will not be receiving any bills in the mail. As a result, I was behind 2 months in payment and got charged the finance charge in addition to a $39 late fee. I cancelled the card ASAP. So no more Amazon Visa for me.

  6. Kim

    I got an Amazon Visa back in summer of 07. Everything was great, but then this past June my husband lost his job. We went without any income at all for 4 months, depleting our savings. Finally, in October, my husband began getting unemployment. He is still out of work and it isn’t looking good. We had our first late payment two months ago because we simply did not have any money, at all. My minimum monthly payment jumped from $47 to $396!!! I called them and told them there was no way I could pay that much in one month, and they did absolutely nothing. Then, on 11/8, they called my home and demanded that I make a payment of $60 by Friday. I agreed. Today was Thursday, and they have called my home SEVEN TIMES TODAY!!!. This company is insane. The moment the stinking card is payed off, I’m canceling it and throwing it in the wood chipper! I wouldn’t recommend this card to anybody.

  7. Debby M

    Just came across your post. I found it informative for me and I’m sure many others. I did also have small trouble subscribing to the blog but figured it out; I’m still a 2-finger typist :) . Thank you and keep your blogging spirit going strong.

  8. LB

    Thanks for stories. I got it because I was already shopping a lot on Amazon with my debit card and it only takes an extra minute to pay off what I bought. The rate stinks anyway.

    I love free shipping and no sales tax! I’m a mom and part-time student – large baby items, diapers and textbooks show up in my doorstep in 2 days flat. No loading the baby into the car, driving to the store and trying to figure out how to fit a crib mattress in my trunk.

  9. Bob

    Just a note that I cannot verify: Three or four people on other sites reviewing this card reported NOT being able to apply the “gift” amount to their checkout when card was applied for.

  10. metta

    My dad let me sign him up for this card because I wanted the $30 on amazon but I don’t really understand this stuff so I wanted some help. If I just use the $30 to buy something on amazon and never use the card, will I ever be charged with anything?

  11. Gabriel Ogata

    I got it because I was already shopping a lot on Amazon with my debit card and it only takes an extra minute to pay off what I bought. The rate stinks anyway.

  12. Peter

    They just nailed me … again … first time they had a pay in six months promotional … I paid on time … or so I thought … they charged me a fee for “paying early” …. some fine legalistic print. They waived the fee, I paid the card off in full and cancelled it. They sent a VISA card … I used it like any other card for about a half year … paid on time. Card got declined yesterday. Over limit? $400 limit? Get out! No way! Now they want to charge over-limit fees and yet all the prior months I was well “over-limit” with no problems. So they high pressured me to pay it off in full. But their system rejected my payment since I had already just paid. Talk about a catch 22. I have never had the kind of problems with this card than with any of my other cards. This card will get paid off and even if it hurts my credit rating I am cancelling it. Dealing with Amazon sucks.