Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping

September 30, 2010

The best credit cards for shopping online will give you both purchase protection and rewards on the money you spend.  While credit cards typically give you more protection from fraudulent vendors or disputed charges than debit cards, not all cards offer the same level of service.

Here are a few areas to consider when choosing which credit card to use for an online purchase.

Purchase protection: With purchase protection, if the purchase isn’t as represented, you have recourse. One of the great things about credit cards is that you can have the charge taken off (with a legitimate complaint, of course) before you pay for it. With a debit card, the money is gone from your bank account, and you may have to fight harder to get it back.  Some cards will even reimburse you if something you bought on your card is stolen or damaged.

Return protection: In some cases, your card might offer return protection — even if the seller doesn’t. So you might be able to get your money back, even though the seller won’t reimburse. These usually have caps on the window of time after the purchase, the total item cost, and annual coverage amounts so make sure you understand how these policies work.

Warranty: Some credit cards will offer an extension of the standard warranty for items paid for with your card. You’lll need to keep your digital receipt and credit card statement if case you ever need to make a claim.

Shipping Discounts: If you shop in some credit card networks, some merchants will offer  shipping discounts. This may not always be the case though; sometimes card shopping networks just have special events with limited time free shipping.

Insurance: Pay for a car rental online, using a credit card, and you may find that you have some level of rental care insurance automatically. The same can be true of travel insurance in some cases. Find out which of your cards offer insurance as a perk, and consider those.


Credit Card Rewards & Special Shopping
If you are going to be shopping with a credit card, it is a good idea to at least get some reward points out of it. Many credit cards also offer special shopping networks that can provide you with extra rewards when you buy through certain vendors:

Chase Ultimate Rewards: You can choose flexible rewards, and you get bonuses for certain spending. The discounts & bonuses are bigger when you shop via the Ultimate Rewards site.

ThankYou Points from Citi: Using a Citi card, you can rack up some pretty substantial points. The ThankYou Points network allows you to get extra points from certain merchants. On top of that, some Citi cards will give you ThankYou points for making your payments on time and for engaging in other financially responsible behaviors.

Upromise: If you have a Upromise card through Bank of America, you can purchase merchandise, airfare, and more when shop from the Upromise site. Get extra savings for college when you shop from certain merchants.

ShopAmex: Get special deals and extra rewards when you use your American Express card with the ShopAmex network.

ShopDiscover: Go through Discover’s site for your shopping, and you can get extra rewards, and even get gift cards for certain merchants. For example, with the Discover card, you can get double the gift certificate value when you trade in a statement credit for a gift card.

Remember, though, that in order for rewards to be effective, you have to pay off your balance each month, since interest charges can easily offset (and overcome) your reward earnings.

The biggest shopping season of the year is on the way! Before it arrives be sure to check out your current cards to see which has the most purchase protection benefits and the best card rewards.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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4 Responses to Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping

  • Paul

    If the criteria is cards that are useful specifically for online shopping, then I would also consider security related features such as being able to generate one-time-use credit card numbers for use on questionable websites. I haven’t checked on this in a while, but I think citi has this feature while chase does not. I have no idea about the rest.

  • Dela

    Nice Article….Thanks for sharing..!!


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