Best credit cards for book lovers

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

Now, more than ever, our options and reasons for reading seem endless. Whether you’re lugging textbooks to class, tossing paperbacks into your beach bag or downloading audiobooks for your commute, book lovers know that a reading habit can become expensive.

Our motto around here is that if you’re spending, you should be earning. So, we’re sharing our best strategies to ensure your reading habit is as good for your rewards balance as it is for your brain.

the best credit cards for books

The easiest and most important way to earn on your book purchases is to use one of the best credit cards for books. These cards will ensure that you’re earning bonus points no matter what type of book purchase you make.

Here’s a comparison chart that breaks down the earning rates for these options:

Credit Card Best for Book bonus earning
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Books bought through Amazon. 5%.
Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card Bookstores anywhere. 5%.
Barnes & Noble Mastercard Books bought through Barnes & Noble. 5%.
Target REDcard Books bought through Target. 5%.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Earning flexible travel rewards. 2 miles per dollar.
Chase Freedom Flex Books bought from drugstores. 3%.
Citi Double Cash Card Books bought from independent bookstores. 2% cash back (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay).

The information for the Amazon Visa, Affinity Visa Signature, Barnes & Noble Mastercard and Target REDcard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More details on the best cards for books

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa

(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa

Sign-up bonus: Get a $100 gift card instantly upon approval.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: Among the most convenient ways to save on Amazon’s vast array of books — and all of its other products — is to use one of its cash-back credit cards. The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa comes without an annual fee and is a good option if you’re loyal to Amazon for many purchases.

The Prime Rewards Visa earns you 5% cash back at Amazon when you have an existing Prime membership ($139 annually). In addition to 5% off at Amazon and Whole Foods, you’ll get 2% cash back at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores as well as 1% back on all other purchases.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa.

Related: Best cards for Amazon purchases 

Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Get $200 cash back when you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $25,000 within the first year of opening your account.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: This is a book lover’s dream card, earning 5% cash back on Amazon and all bookstores (on up to $3,500 in purchases each month). Plus, it also earns 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets, all for no annual fee.

Related: The best cash-back credit cards

Barnes & Noble Mastercard

Barnes and Noble storefront

Sign-up bonus: Get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card after your first purchase or balance transfer.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: We aren’t typically huge fans of store credit cards, but the Barnes & Noble Mastercard is a good way to earn bonus rewards on physical or book purchases from this store.

With this card, you’ll earn 5% back on all in-store and online Barnes & Noble purchases as well as 2% back at restaurants.

Related: Store vs. cash-back cards: Which one should I get?

Target REDcard

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: Target might be synonymous with groceries and household needs, but it also typically carries a selection of books both in-store and online. While not nearly as extensive a selection as Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you can still find a surprisingly-wide array of popular bestsellers and even Target-exclusive reads.

The Target REDcard earns 5% cash back on all Target purchases, including books.

Related: Best cards for Target purchases

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

a hand holds a credit card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Why we love it: The beauty of the Venture Card is its simplicity. You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all purchases, including any outlet that sells books. You can use these rewards to cover travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per mile. You can also transfer them to numerous travel partners — potentially boosting your return to 3.7% (based on TPG’s valuations, not provided by the card issuer).

For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Venture Card.

Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Chase Freedom Flex℠

a hand holds a credit card

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: Besides earning 5% back on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 spent, activation required), the Freedom Flex earns 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. Drugstores may not be the first place you think of when purchasing books, but it’s worth checking your favorite one to see if it carries good titles. If it does, buy your books there and use this card to earn bonus points on those purchases.

Note that Target is part of the rotating bonus categories for Q1 2023, so this could be a good option for purchasing books at Target through March 31. Suppose you also have a higher-end Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. In that case, you can combine your points in a single account to effectively convert the cash-back rewards from the Freedom into fully-transferable Ultimate Rewards points.

For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Flex.

Apply here: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Citi® Double Cash Card

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we love it: The Citi Double Cash Card is a versatile product that earns 2% cash back — 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay your bill. This card allows you to be as flexible as possible when it comes to buying books, earning 2% back no matter what type of book you buy or where you make your purchase.

For more details, check out our full review of the Citi Double Cash.

Apply here: Citi® Double Cash Card

Other ways to earn on book purchases

Buy gift cards

If you have a credit card that earns bonus points for shopping at grocery or office supply stores, look at the gift cards available at the stores around you.

(Photo by Zhang Qiao/VCG via Getty Images)

You can purchase gift cards for stores like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and then use them to buy books, allowing you to earn bonus points on those purchases.

Use a shopping portal

Always check shopping portals for your favorite bookstores when shopping online to see if you earn even more on your reading-related purchases.

Check merchant offers

Many cards regularly have merchant offers for book retailers. Make sure to check the offers on all your cards regularly and add any that you think you might use. Then, use the card with the offer and shop at the places that earn money back before the offer expires.

In addition, Amex regularly offers a discount when redeeming Membership Rewards points on Amazon purchases.

We recommend using a note on your phone to keep track of which offers are on which cards, so you can easily reference it when you’re ready to make a purchase.

Bottom line

A reading habit can be an expensive one. Make sure you’re using one of the best credit cards for buying books and stacking your earnings with merchant offers and shopping portals to get the most bang for your bibliophile buck.

Additional reporting by Laura Motta and Chris Dong.