Credit cards are considered by many to be a necessary evil. They can really wreck havoc on one’s personal finances, but they can also be the only means available in emergencies and they come in handy when making purchases on the spur of the moment. I have used many, many different credit cards over the past twenty years or so and my trend has been toward credit cards that have some extra benefit. One card that offers a little extra is the Amazon.com Visa, a credit card offered by the on- line retail giant.
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What Does This Card Offer?:
This credit card is issued by Chase, one of the largest and best- known names in financial services. This card is issued by Visa exclusively and it has all the rights normally associated with the Visa name.
With this card, users accumulate points that can be cashed in for Amazon.com gift certificates. The way it works is simple: Each purchase you make earns one point per dollar spent, regardless of where you make a purchase. Each purchase you make through Amazon.com earns three points per dollar.
These points slowly accumulate in your account and once you reach 2,500 points, you will receive a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com. You cannot cash in your points at any time, for a partial award. You have to wait for the balance to reach 2,500 to get the $25 reward certificate.
Fees and Other Charges:
This credit card charges no annual fee. Usually, Amazon.com offers a special deal of some sort to entice new applicants. This special offer can include cash off of your first Amazon.com purchase using the card; free balance transfers (no added charge for moving debt from another creditor to this card); zero interest for the first six months; or a combination of the above.
In spite of the no annual fee, the Amazon.com Visa does have other ways to get money from its users. These come in the form of additional charges for misuse or neglect of your account. Going over your limit will cost you $35. If your payment is received late, you can expect to be charged anywhere from $15 to $40 (depending on your current balance). Balance transfers and cash advances charge 3 percent (unless you get a special offer when you sign up). This is typical of most credit cards nowadays. They always have some type of plan in place to ensure they meet their profit goals for the month.
The interest rate on this card is reasonable for a Visa, with a rate that is roughly 15 percent annually. But be careful not to screw up and allow your payment to be late because if you do, the interest rate will more than double to 30+ percent annually.
If you want to learn more about the Amazon.com credit card, you can get the facts by visiting Amazon.com (there is a link on the main page) or by logging into the Chase web site, www.chase.com/amazon. Once here, you can learn the specific terms of agreement, see what incentives are being offered, and apply for the card. The application process is very fast and you can often obtain approval within minutes. The toll free number to call if you would rather speak live with a representative is 888-247-4080.
Amazon.com Visa card is a credit card I recently acquired. I have used many different credit cards but I approach them differently compared to the past. In my early days, I would usually look for the best interest rate and zero annual fee offers. Nothing else mattered much because since I usually carried a balance, the most important factor for me was how much total interest I would end up paying over the life of the card.
Today, I have switched my emphasis to those credit cards which offer additional incentives each time you use them. I have used reward cards in the past (airline cards) but now they have become my exclusive credit card type. With the amount of on- line purchasing that I partake in, it makes sense to get some type of reward for my efforts. And since Amazon.com ranks as my number one web site in terms of the number of purchases made, it seemed logical that I would give this card a try.
Besides the Amazon.com name, the main reasons I applied for this credit card were the incentive offers at the time. When I signed up, they were giving this card to new customers with a $30 cash back offer on your first Amazon.com purchase; free balance transfers; and no interest for the first six months. Any one of these offers would have been enough to get me to apply for the card but with three good offers, I couldn’t see any reason to hold back. I applied, was accepted in a few minutes, and transferred some balances from other creditors to this account right away.
The main appeal of this credit card is the fact that it earns reward points. You earn points at either a one percent rate or a three percent rate, depending on where you make a purchase. Buying through Amazon.com will earn you the maximum three percent rate while other purchases will earn you one percent. This means that, to reach 2,500 points and claim your first certificate, it will take between $833 and $2,500 in new purchases (cash advances and balance transfers do not earn points). This can take some effort, but if you use the card for ordinary purchases and then pay off the balance quickly, you can build your balance to 2,500 in a relatively short amount of time. The key is to pay off your balance as quickly as possible (using the on- line method, if you can) in order to avoid paying interest. The card offers a 20 day grace period, so you have almost three weeks to pay without any accrual of interest.
Customer service with this card is inconsistent and I have found that I have the best luck when I access my account on- line rather than wait my turn in the loop to talk to a customer service rep. The on- line site is pretty good for getting balances, making payments, and checking points but you need to keep in mind that the points are not updated the instant you make a charge. The charge will show up in your total balance owed, but your points will not update until later. Using the on- line site is crucial if you want to build points as fast as possible because you need to make sure that you pay your balance off quickly. With the added interest, ordinary purchases (those that you would have usually paid for with cash) will increase in cost to the point where the one percent accumulation of Amazon.com points is meaningless.
Getting through to customer service on the phone and talking to customer service reps isn’t always easy with the Amazon.com credit card. This card is affiliated with Chase finance, and this large company isn’t always known for having the best customer service. I have used Chase for my mortgage and for other financial purposes and the same problems I have had with the main company exist here. The reps often give inconsistent answers and it can take a while to get a rep on the phone. I have experimented with Chase and called a couple of times with the same question, just to see what would happen. Often, I would get different answers to the same question and I would usually get a certain amount of hesitation with each answer. The hesitation tells me that the rep on the phone wasn’t 100 percent sure of what he/she was saying but needed to give a quick answer in order to get off the phone and move on to the next customer. This is the biggest problem I have with Chase and with this credit card. It is a symptom of a bank that has grown too large to give its customers the individual attention they need.
If you accept this offer like I did, the most important advice I can give is to not, under any circumstances, allow your payment to be late. Not only will you get hit with a late fee, your interest rate will double! If your balance is very large, you will be paying the price for your tardiness in the way of big money. Say, for example, that you have a $5,000 balance. At the base rate of 15 percent annually, the interest on this balance would be about $63 per month. Let a payment be received late and your monthly interest will soar to about $125 per month! And keep in mind that Amazon.com and Chase do not reduce this rate. It stays at this high interest rate level until the balance is paid in full. This is why it is so important to pay your balance in a timely manner.
In spite of the extra fees and the shoddy customer service, I like my Amazon.com Visa. It has suited me well thus far and I have saved quite a bit of money by taking advantage of the free balance transfers, the zero interest for six months, and the $30 off my first purchase. I have managed to avoid the late fees and jump in interest rate because I have always paid my bill in a timely manner. Whenever I am in doubt, I use the on- line payment method. Remember that Chase has to receive your payment by the due date to avoid the increase in the interest rate and the late fee. The postmark doesn’t mean anything to them. This is why, anytime I’m in doubt, I logon to the site and make a payment on- line. It isn’t worth it to take a chance on the mail getting into Chase’s hands in time.
Reward cards have become my credit cards of choice in this new millennium. And since I have shopped more times at Amazon.com than any other web site in the universe, the Amazon.com credit card has been a good choice for my financial needs. It has saved me money and has helped me earn free gifts from my most commonly used web site. Until another bank lures me away, my Amazon.com Visa is the card I will continue to use for the foreseeable future.
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