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What’s the Best Credit Card for Online Shopping?

The “best” credit card for online shopping should have qualities that are important to you, as well as sound security and good customer service features.

By Kristina Russo | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

4 Min Read | September 22, 2020 in Cards



Depending on your spending patterns, the best credit card for online shopping might be one that’s easiest to obtain, offers rich rewards programs, or has low interest rates.

But some things are universally important, like top-notch security.

It probably comes as no surprise that online shopping is growing fast: 40% of people surveyed said they shop online several times a month, and 20% make multiple weekly online purchases.1 The attractions of online shopping include convenience, easy comparison shopping, saving money, and avoiding crowded stores. But regardless of what draws you to shop online, if you’re paying by credit card, you may want to know which one is best suited for your online shopping style.


Here’s a review of popular credit card features to consider when choosing the “best” credit card for your online shopping.


Best Credit Cards for Online Shoppers Who Reap Rewards

Online shoppers tend to be savvy, often comparing product features and prices, searching for coupon codes, or looking for special shipping offers before checking out. They want their credit card to do double duty, earning rewards as they shop, or even triple duty by layering on a rewards shopping portal associated with the credit card. Rewards programs vary from card to card, some earning you cash back or points.


If you fall into this camp, it’s wise to select a rewards program that matches the kind of spending you do. Maybe you shop online for everyday items, rather than large, one-time purchases. Or maybe you prefer to buy from particular online vendors with rewards programs attached to associated credit cards, similar to a store’s own credit card in the offline world. Either way, a rewards program should make sense for your lifestyle. For more on this, read “Earning Rewards and Cash Back While Shopping Online.” 


Fees and Rates Differ on Cards for Online Shopping

If you plan to pay off a large purchase over time, examine credit card interest rates and fees when selecting a credit card for online shopping. Credit card interest rates average close to 17% per year, which can lead to interest charges that offset even generous rewards programs.2 Look for cards with a low annual percentage rate (APR) or even a 0% intro APR credit card.


Universal Credit Card Features Important for Online Shoppers

Some basic credit card features become even more critical for online shopping – namely, security and customer service. Experts agree that using a credit card is safer for online shopping than using a debit card tied to a bank account. Some enhanced security features of credit cards that may be especially beneficial for online shopping include:


  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Alerts for unusual activity.
  • Ability to freeze your account.
  • Virtual card numbers. 


For more credit card safety tips, read “Holiday Credit Card Security: Keeping Your Credit and Identity Safe.”


Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping Newcomers

Online forms make most applications pretty straightforward. You’ll be asked for typical personal profile information like your name, address, and date of birth; basic financial data like income, bank accounts, and housing costs; and security facts such as your Social Security number and mother’s maiden name.

  • Secured credit cards: Getting your application approved might depend on your credit history. If you have a minimal or less than stellar credit history, a secured credit card may smooth the approval process.
  • Instant approval credit cards may be another way to get online shopping fast. The benefit of this type of card is that your application is evaluated in real time, letting you know right away if you’re approved. A disadvantage is that instant approval credit cards sometimes – but not always – carry higher fees and lower credit limits. For more, read “How to Get an Instant Approval Credit Card—and Use it Instantly!


The Takeaway

The “best” credit card for online shopping depends on which features are important to you – like how easy it is to apply for, or whether the card offers reward programs or low interest rates. And of course, don’t forget to consider security and customer service.

Kristina Russo

Kristina Russo is a CPA and MBA with over 20 years of business experience in firms of all sizes and across several industries, including media and publishing, entertainment, retail, and manufacturing.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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The material made available for you on this website, Credit Intel, is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or financial advice. If you have questions, please consult your own professional legal, tax and financial advisors.