The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Sunday, September 19, 2021

16 Best Credit Cards for Online Shopping in 2021

Best Credit Card For Online Shopping

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: January 27, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

In only a few decades, we’ve traveled from the days when we first heard, “You’ve got mail!” to an era in which nearly every facet of our lives now involves the internet — particularly our consumer lives. If you can name it, you can likely buy it online without ever needing to interact with another human being (or put on pants).

So, let’s take a look at which card may be the best credit card — for you — for online shopping. Because avoiding human interaction does come with one catch: you need a way to pay for your online purchases; cash simply won’t do.

While prepaid cards and debit transactions are used by some, credit cards are the name of the game for those who want a safe and secure digital purchase. Not only do most cards provide built-in purchase and fraud protections, but many cards also offer valuable purchase rewards.

Cash Back | Travel | $0 Fraud Liability | $0 Foreign Transaction | Students | Bad Credit

Best “Cash Back” Credit Cards for Online Shopping

If ever there were a no-brainer way to shop, it must be with a good cash back rewards credit card. Cash back cards effectively provide a universal rebate on everything you purchase with your card, making it easy to save without ever needing to clip or download a cumbersome coupon. Plus you’ll be covered in case of unauthorized charges or if you have a major problem with your online purchase.

Some cash back cards have a single flat unlimited rate for all purchases, while others also provide higher rewards rates for purchases in specific categories. Choosing the best cash back card for you will mean looking at where you make the majority of your purchases and which card can help you maximize your cash back. Our favorite cash back cards include a mix of both rewards types.

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New! Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 14.99% to 24.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5
  • $0 annual fee
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Enjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of the world's most intriguing and prestigious hotel properties with Visa Signature Concierge
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% intro APR 15 months from account opening
0% intro APR 15 months from account opening
14.99%-24.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards with Cash Back

Cash back credit cards aren’t the only ones with built-in protections, of course; all credit cards have liability caps for fraudulent use. Cardholder liability for unauthorized use of any credit card is limited to $50. And if you report the card as lost or stolen before any fraudulent charges are made — or only your card information is stolen — you have $0 liability. This is a great benefit for credit card users.

In contrast, your liability for purchases made with debit cards that are lost or stolen is only limited if you report the missing card in a timely manner. You’ll have a $0 liability if you report the debit card before charges are made, a $50 liability cap if you report the card within two business days, and a $500 cap if you wait up to 60 days from when your statement is sent. Wait any longer than that, and you’ll be fully liable for any and all losses.

Best “Travel” Credit Cards for Online Shopping

Although you once had to actually fly to earn travel miles, these days rewards credit cards make it easy to accrue travel points and miles before ever stepping foot on a plane. Which means with the right travel rewards card, you can not only enjoy safe and secure online shopping, but you can earn points or miles for free travel while you’re at it.

As with other types of rewards cards, travel rewards credit cards will usually have a flat unlimited rewards rate, with some cards offering higher rates for purchases made in specific bonus categories. You can select a card that earns branded airline miles or choose a more flexible card without brand restrictions or blackout dates, like those on our list of top travel cards.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards with Travel Rewards

In addition to the standard fraud and purchase protections that come with using a credit card, travel credit cards often provide special travel-related benefits. For example, the popular business card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, comes with trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance that may reimburse you up to $5,000 in case your trip is affected by sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations.

While travel insurance and related benefits can be extremely valuable, keep in mind that most cards require your trip to be completely or at least partially paid for with the card that offers the insurance benefits. The aspects of your trip that are covered may also vary by card and issuer, with most programs covering things like passenger fares, hotel stays, and guided tours.

Best “$0 Fraud Liability” Credit Cards

Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), all credit cardholders have a cap of $50 on their liability for unauthorized charges made with a lost or stolen credit card. But that $50 can still be a blow, especially if your whole wallet is gone and you’ve already taken some losses. You can protect yourself further from the potential costs of fraud with a card that has a $0 Fraud Liability policy in place.

Since it’s typically issuers that maintain $0 Fraud Liability policies, rather than specific cards, these policies tend to apply to all cards offered by the issuer. This means you can find a wide range of credit card types that come with $0 Fraud Liability, including cash back and travel cards like some of our top picks below.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards with $0 Fraud Liability

The best way to avoid getting stuck paying for charges to your credit card that you didn’t authorize is to regularly check your credit card statement to ensure you recognize all the charges. If you do see a charge you don’t recognize, you should immediately dispute that charge with your issuer. This can typically be done right from your online statement (and, often, from a link next to the charge itself).

One thing to consider before disputing an unfamiliar charge is whether any family members or other authorized users may have made the charge. Sometimes called “friendly fraud,” disputing these charges can have more consequences than you think.

Best “$0 Foreign Transaction Fee” Credit Cards

Since the main reason many of us shop online is for the sheer convenience of the process, using a credit card can often add to that convenience factor. Namely, your credit card often makes it remarkably simple to make purchases in foreign currencies. That’s because, in most cases, your credit card purchase will automatically convert your payment from (or to, as it may be) US dollars to the foreign purchase currency.

Now, the downside to the automatic currency conversion is that many credit cards will charge a foreign transaction fee for the service. Typically 2% to 4% of your total purchase, these fees can add up quickly. Thankfully, a number of credit cards are available on the market, including our picks below, that don’t charge any foreign transaction fees, making it easy — and affordable — to complete foreign currency transactions.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time, and no expiration on points
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees while earning points to use for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Introductory 0% APR offer on purchases, then a variable APR applies
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards with $0 Foreign Transaction Fee

While the most obvious foreign transaction occurrences are those made when you travel to another country and use your credit card to make in-person purchases, you don’t necessarily need to cross a border to make a foreign transaction. Most credit card issuers and networks consider any transaction made with a foreign currency to be a foreign transaction that may be subject to foreign transaction fees.

Of course, the nature of which purchases are “foreign” will depend on your country of origin. If you are a US credit cardholder, then foreign transactions are those not completed in US dollars. If you obtained your credit card in another country, your card’s native currency will generally be for that country.

Best “Student” Credit Cards for Online Shopping

In a world where two-thirds of young people would rather shop online than in a store, it’s little surprise that many students are on the lookout for a secure way to make online purchases. With a variety of built-in protections, credit cards are not only a safe way to shop online, but can also be a good way to start building a credit history for a strong post-graduation credit profile.

Although most students won’t have much established credit history while in school, credit cards aimed at students typically have flexible credit requirements that take these limitations into account. Many of our favorite student credit cards also have student-centric benefits, purchase rewards, and won’t charge an annual fee.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

+See More Cards for Students

For some students, it won’t be a lack of credit history that keeps them from obtaining a credit card. The CARD Act of 2009 limits the ability of young people under the age of 21 to obtain a credit card without an independent source of income (read: job) or a parental cosigner. All primary credit cardholders must at least 18 years of age, as well.

If you can’t qualify for a credit card on your own due to age or income restrictions, the best plan may be to become an authorized user on a parent’s credit card. Authorized users can enjoy the safety and security of paying with credit cards, plus the card will be reported to the authorized user’s credit profiles to help establish and build credit.

Best “Bad Credit” Credit Cards for Online Shopping

Having bad credit comes with a lot of hurdles to jump through in the financial world, but, fortunately, the inability to make secure online purchases doesn’t need to be one of them. No matter what your credit looks like, you can likely qualify for some type of credit card, and that credit card will be subject to the liability caps provided by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

With poor credit, your credit card options will primarily consist of unsecured subprime cards, closed-loop store cards, and secured credit cards. While secured credit cards will require a deposit to open and use, unsecured credit cards for those with bad credit tend to have much higher fees. Start comparing your options with our expert-rated selections below.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.6/5.0
  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable

+See More Cards for Bad Credit

While the deposit needed to open a secured credit card can be intimidating for some, the minimum deposit amounts for many secured credit cards can be surprisingly close to the total amount of fees you’ll be charged by some subprime unsecured credit cards.

Of course, unless you can put together a $300 to $500 deposit, you can find unsecured cards that may provide higher credit limits than secured cards, but there’s one more thing to consider. Your security deposit will be returned to you when you close your account (so long as it’s in good standing). Those costly unsecured credit card fees will be gone forever.

Shop Safely Online with a Credit Card

Not so long ago, internet service providers were downloaded to your computer via a floppy disk that came in the mail, and internet users had to choose between a usable phone line or a live internet connection. Nowadays, we all walk around in a world of browsers and WiFi hotspots, with the entire world wide web in the palms of our hands.

And while all that connected convenience is certainly a boon to those who like to shop without having to put on pants or deal with salespeople, online shopping does have its own risks, particularly financial risks. But you can mitigate most of those risks by shopping smartly — like not using the same “ilovekitties” password for every site — as well as shopping safely with a limited-liability credit card.

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