Is Amazon’s Prime Credit Card Right For You?

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN) has quietly launched its own credit card for Prime members, offering yet another perk to its subscription program. But is the card worthwhile?

The Amazon Prime Store Card offers consumers either 5% back on all Amazon purchases or special financing on Amazon orders. It is only available for Prime members, but there are no additional fees on top of the $99 Prime membership fee--assuming you pay back your balance on time.

Amazon, of course, thinks the card is a great deal. "We're always looking for ways to reward customers and help them save money," said David Williams, general manager of Amazon Credit. "The Amazon Prime Store Card with 5% unlimited rewards is a great value for Prime members."

To sign up for Amazon Prime, click here.

And if you are a frequent Amazon shopper, Williams is probably right. "If you're an Amazon Prime junkie, it's hard to beat 5% back," said Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com's director of consumer education.

But before you sign up just yet, take a look at your spending history on Amazon. "The last thing that anybody should do with a credit card is increase their spending just to get 5% cash back, because that's how people get into debt trouble," said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at CreditCards.com. "Look at your spending, and if you're somebody who shops at Amazon regularly and is already an Amazon Prime member, then it might be worth considering this card because you'd essentially be getting cash back for something that you're already doing."

The closest comparison to Amazon's card is Target's (TGT) RedCard, which also offers 5% back but unlike Amazon's, does not require any membership at Target. Plus Target's 5% comes directly off the price of your order, while Amazon will give you the 5% back as statement credit.

  


If you aren't a Prime member already, the card alone likely won't be enough to convince you join, though if you also have any interest in any of Prime's other offerings, like two-day shipping and online video streaming, then it may make sense for you to join and get the card.

"If you're not a Prime member, then you have to decide whether the $99 a year cost is worth it," Detweiler said. "It works out to $8.25 a month -- do you shop on Amazon enough to justify that monthly cost?"

It's also important to consider the usual risks attached with opening a new credit card. "Over the long run, a card with a positive payment history and low balances can help your scores," Detweiler said. "But in the short term, a new account may cause your scores to drop a bit and can shorten the average age of your accounts. As long as you're not planning on getting a mortgage or refinancing one in the next six months or so, it's probably fine to go ahead and get another card if you really want it."

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