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Battle of the cards: Amazon Prime or Target Redcard?

Kelly Dilworth

If you want to save big on your everyday purchases, a store card with an ongoing 5 percent cash back bonus – such as the new Amazon Prime credit card or the Target Redcard – could net you a substantial amount of savings when you buy items at Amazon or at Target stores or Target.com.

There are, of course, cash back cards that let you earn 5 percent in categories that rotate through the year, and some cash back cards offer an unlimited 2 percent on all spending. This post, though, is just about the Amazon Prime and Target Redcard. Which is better in our Battle of the Cards? That depends.

We figured a spirited discussion of the cards – comparing and contrasting their perks and terms – could help you weigh their merits.

My husband and I have an Amazon Prime card that we regularly use for everything from household supplies to books and electronics, but there are definite drawbacks to the card. To qualify for the Prime card, you need to be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 per year. You also have to rely on product descriptions and customer reviews for your purchases, which can be riskier than viewing a product in-store.

Kristen Cabrera, a news clerk at CreditCards.com, has a Target Redcard, and she says she likes to use her card for purchases she can look at and try out in the store. She adds the Redcard has not only been handy for everyday shopping trips; it also has helped her improve her credit score by periodically increasing her credit limit without her having to apply for a credit limit increase. But the Redcard also comes with one very big flaw: a 23.15 percent APR that can be risky if you can’t afford to repay your balance in full.

Let’s get started…

Kristen: I like to use my Target Redcard for purchases I can look at and try out in area Target stores. The Redcard has not only been handy for everyday shopping trips, it’s also helped me improve my credit score by periodically increasing my credit limit without me having to apply for an increase.

Kelly: Is going into a physical Target store more convenient for you than shopping online?

Kristen: Yes, because I like to browse through everything. Normally what happens, though, is I’ll go to Target to get one thing, and then all of a sudden, I’m leaving with a million other things!

Kelly: I totally understand. That’s actually one reason why I’ve been tempted by the Target card. I sometimes like shopping in and roaming around the store. You just can’t do that online. It’s not as satisfying, and it’s not really an experience in the way physical shopping can be.

Kristen: I tend to shop a lot at Target for clothes. It’s harder to shop for clothes on Amazon or on other online stores like Modcloth. For me, I like clothes that fit in a certain way, and you can never really tell with online clothes how they’re going to be.

Even though it’s supposed to be more convenient online, to me it’s just easier in the first place to go find something I like, try it on right then and there and see if I want it. That’s why I like going to Target. Plus, they always have a lot of sales.

Kelly: Yeah, that’s true. I’m a big Modcloth shopper and a big Amazon clothes shopper, and a lot of times I’ll order something and it doesn’t fit, or I’ll order something for my son and it just doesn’t look right. So then you have to return it, and even if the store has a good return policy, it’s still a pain to actually put it in a box and get it there.

One thing I’ve really liked about Amazon Prime – my husband and I have had the Amazon Rewards Visa for a long time and we just switched over to the Prime card – is that we use it for a lot of our household supplies and for things you don’t really need to see ahead of time, such as diapers for our 2-year-old son or pet supplies.

Kristen: Do you use Amazon Prime Now?

Kelly: No, I haven’t used the Now service. It looks really interesting.

Kristen: I’ve actually used that. If I’m sick and I just don’t want to leave the house and I’m wanting a little medicine or tea or stuff, I’ve used it. I thought it was really handy. (With Prime Now, free 2-hour delivery is available in certain ZIP codes.)

Kelly: I should look into that. With a 2-year-old in the house, there are so many times when we do need something like ibuprofen for toddlers.

That’s another thing I really like about Prime. You don’t have to go to a physical store, which is such a huge timesaver. We’ve found that our time is just so maxed out now that we never have time to stop by a store. Our Target is 25 minutes away, so going there or going to any store nowadays feels like such a huge ordeal for us compared to when we were childless.

Kristen: Yeah, I drive all over the city and I’ll pass three different Targets on my various routes. For me, shopping at Target is convenient because I can just pull over and go into the store – especially if I’m feeling kind of antsy and I’ve been in traffic for too long. Sometimes I’m just like, “OK, I know I need this one thing that I can just go into Target to grab real quick. Let me see if I can get something else as well.”

Kelly: That’s true. It seems like if someone is trying to decide between these two cards, they should look at what their current lifestyle is. It seems as if the Target card is better for someone like you who drives by Target stores all the time and has that extra time to go inside and browse a little bit.

Kristen: Yeah, I used to work outside the city (Austin, Texas, by the way), and it was a 30-minute drive to the nearest Target. For people who actually lived in that area, it was, like, once a month when they would make a trip to Target. If you live somewhere where there aren’t a lot of different options, I’m sure Amazon Prime is a better option for you.

Added perks for Amazon and Target shoppers? Both cards offer free shipping (on most items at Target.com with an extended return policy, and Amazon Prime members get free two-day shipping and same-day shipping on qualifying orders in certain cities). While the Redcard’s 5 percent discount is stackable with Cartwheel and other discounts, Prime cardholders also earn 2 percent back on restaurant, gas and drugstore purchases and 1 percent on other purchases.

Other benefits? As a Visa Signature card, the Amazon Prime card has a host of travel and purchase protections, while Target’s Redcard was the first credit card in the U.S. with the added security of chip-and-PIN technology in the wake of a 2013 data breach.

So what’s your favorite of these two cards? Or maybe Kohl’s is your mother ship, and that’s an even better deal for you? Or maybe you have some other trusty card that’s your favorite? Tell us why. Email us at editors@creditcards.com or tweet to us @TakingCharge.

See related: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card review, TargetPay is coming soon

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