Pay with the right card at Amazon or Whole Foods to cut costs and earn cash back
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Ready, set, charge! With Amazon Prime Day looming, get your ducks (and credit card rewards strategies) in a row now to stretch your dollars and score additional cash back, miles and perks with every purchase.
New this year: Prime Day extends beyond a day to 36 hours for specials on the Amazon website (starting at 3 p.m. Eastern on July 16 and running through all of July 17) and Amazon Prime members can score extra savings at Whole Foods, which Amazon purchased nearly a year ago.
Also new this year: Using some techy shopping tools will cut the cost of your purchases. For example, chop $10 off your first purchase by downloading and using the Amazon app, and shave $5 off your Prime Day order of $25 or more by downloading the Amazon Assistant to notify you of deals you watch. You also can save $5 on select Prime Day deals when you search for items using the Camera Search on the Amazon app.
What hasn’t changed: There is a lot of hype and excitement around Prime Day, but not every deal is extraordinary. And other retailers, such as Best Buy, will be competing to offer rock-bottom prices around Prime Day, too.
“It’s going to be so tempting to charge more than you typically spend,” says Jacob Serfas, lead financial strategist with O’Dell Winkfield Roseman Shipp in Baltimore, “so you need to have a plan to pay it off.”
If you plan for Prime Day with an eye for deals on things that you need and purchases that you can pay off when the credit card bill arrives, great. If you can save even more on your purchases by paying with your rewards credit cards, even better.
To that end, here are six ways you can use your cards to stack your rewards and make the most of Prime Day:
1. Use your Amazon Prime Rewards Visa credit card
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardholders can earn a $10 Amazon credit by scanning their Prime Code or using your mobile number at checkout in-store on any purchase of more than $10 to spend on Prime Day.
Throughout the year, Amazon Prime Visa cardholders get 5 percent cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases (and now 10 percent off on specials throughout Whole Foods stores).
See related: Which is the best card to use for Amazon purchases?
2. Fill a cart with Prime savings at Whole Foods
Prime Day spans three days (July 14-17) at Whole Foods, where Amazon Prime Visa cardholders will score 10 percent cash back on everything in their Whole Foods cart (up to $400 in groceries).
In fact, smart shopping expert Trae Bodge says the Amazon Prime Visa has its appeal for frequent Amazon shoppers beyond any Prime Day bonus savings.
“This card has no annual fee and allows you to earn 5 percent back on your Amazon purchases and between 1-2 percent back on other purchases,” she says. “These earnings can be applied to future Amazon purchases.”
She adds this caution, though. “Like many rewards cards, this card has a fairly high APR, so buy only what you can pay off in full each month. Another bonus of the Prime Visa card is that you get 5 percent cash back at Whole Foods through the year as well.”
3. Get a $75 Discover statement credit
Sign up for a Discover it® card at Amazon and you’ll get a $75 statement credit.
Also, since Amazon purchases are included in the Discover it® Cash Back Card 5 percent bonus category for the final quarter of 2018, you can be raking in cash back on purchases when Prime Day is but a distant memory. Because Discover matches first-year cash back, that means new cardholders can earn 10 percent cash back.
Another way Discover cardholders can save on Amazon: Get $10 to spend at Amazon when you change your one-click default payment to your Discover card.
Discover cardholders also can use your cash back bonus to pay for purchases on Amazon.
4. Earn some cash back rewards
Pay with your cash back card and you can get a little extra back on any Prime Day purchases.
Our cash back cards survey found that with flat-rate cash back cards, 1 percent is the norm and 2 percent is the exception. For example, the Citi Double Cash Card and Capital One’s Spark Cash for Business card give 2 percent cash back.
A few other credit cards offer a flat 2.5 or 3 percent cash back, but those are available only in certain states or if you’re a member of a particular credit union.
5. Redeem AmEx Membership Rewards
For Prime Day, American Express card members can get 20 percent off eligible purchases on Amazon when they use Membership Rewards points from American Express. The maximum discount is $100. AmEx card members can Shop With Points.
6. Reward yourself with an online shopping bonus
The Uber Visa credit card, introduced in 2017, gets most of its notoriety for its 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants, but cardholders also earn 2x rewards on online shopping purchases.
6 ways to make the most of Prime Day
1. Take Prime for a test drive
The best Prime Day discounts are on ligtning or flash deals, says Serfas, who is an Amazon Prime member, and he suggests signing up now for the free 30-day Amazon Prime trial, then canceling before the $119 fee is due. Make a list of items you need and start looking at Amazon prices so you will know if a Prime Day price cut is really worth it, he adds.
See related: Is Amazon Prime worth it?
2. Use Honey to get the lowest price
You likely are familiar with how the Honey browser extension scans and applies coupon codes to cut your price on an items in your online shopping cart. Honey also can track Amazon price changes on items in your Droplist and then will email you as soon as there is a sweet deal.
3. Double-dip on cash back savings
You can stack your Prime Day savings with your rewards cards to earn cash back or points, and you can add to your cash back by using Ebates, ShopAtHome, Extrabux, TopCashback and Upromise sites.
As my colleague, Robin Ratcliff, notes in her “Guide: How to maximize your cash back on Amazon.com”: “These discounts do stack on top of your credit card rewards, meaning you can boost your rewards rate on your Amazon Prime card as high as 9 percent just by using these sites, with very few strings attached.”
4. Save now on back-to-school items
Though school bells won’t ring for weeks, you can use Prime Day savings to stock up on school clothes, pens, binders, glue sticks and furnishings for your child’s dorm room.
5. Wrap up some holiday gifts in summertime
If you shop through the year for holiday gifts, you may find yourself filling your Amazon shopping cart on Prime Day with presents for friends and family.
See related: Holiday shopping in summer: Use your cards to rack up savings
6. Don’t overdo it on Prime Day
“A good deal today could hurt us much more down the road,” Serfas says. Saving 20 percent on a Prime Day special doesn’t do you any good if you can’t pay your credit card bill and end up paying 20 percent interest to your card issuer.
“The last thing you want to do is get in trouble on the back end,” he says. “But if you charge responsibly on Prime Day, it can be a great way to score some great deals.”
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