You might have never heard of Comenity, but you could actually have a credit card issued by this bank. Over 50 million Americans have a card issued by Comenity, one of the top providers of retail store credit cards (Synchrony Bank is the other big name for store cards).
About Comenity Credit Cards
“Comenity” may refer to either Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank, which are both owned by Alliance Data. As far as the average cardholder is concerned, there’s no difference between Comenity Bank credit cards and Comenity Capital Bank cards.
The vast majority of Comenity credit cards are co-branded with retail stores, although some credit programs are co-branded with other types of companies: travel services, gas stations and auto dealers, healthcare providers, and financial institutions.
Most Comenity cards are closed-loop or private label, meaning you can only use them at the co-branded company. Others are open-loop and networked with Visa, Mastercard, or Discover, meaning you can use them anywhere those cards are accepted.
Co-branded credit cards have rewards programs and perks that are focused on the partner company. They often provide a discount on your first purchase after being approved, like 20% off, and birthday gifts are pretty common too, especially with fashion retailers. If the card is networked, meaning it has a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo, it may also offer bonus categories that let you earn rewards points or cash back on other types of purchases.
If you’re not a devoted fan of a particular retailer or company, spending money with it consistently throughout the year, you’re probably not a good fit for its co-branded credit card. Instead, you’ll probably be better off with a general-use reward credit card. Some store cards offer special financing, however, and if you have your eye on a particular item you may want a store card to get some time to pay it off interest-free (these are usually deferred-interest financing offers, so be sure to pay them off responsibly).
Comenity credit cards are known for being easy to get (which is one reason why Comenity has over 50 million cardholders). This is true in general for all store cards, and it makes them attractive for people with no credit, limited credit, or bad credit, who have trouble being approved for the best general-use reward cards. These cards are often marketed at checkout lines, tempting people with a quick discount, but this is not a good time to make serious financial decisions.
There’s usually no annual fee, but credit lines generally start out small, like $500 or $1,000 (although credit limit increases are possible). High interest rates are common, so you’ll never want to carry a balance on a Comenity credit card (or any card for that matter, unless you have a 0% rate). If you carry a balance, the interest charges will quickly eat away at any rewards you earn with the card.
Be sure to pay your statement balance in full each month to avoid interest on your purchases.
Customer Service and Payment Processing
We’ve received many negative reports about Comenity credit cards. Comenity has a relatively high number of complaints compared to other card issuers, which are mostly focused on payment processing, administrative errors, and issues dealing with customer support.
Many people have reported that their payments were delayed or never arrived when they were supposed to, resulting in fees and damage to their credit scores. Others have had confusing interactions with customer service agents, who sometimes come off as rude.
A particularly damning report is that there is no autopay feature for at least some Comenity credit cards. This is a pretty big red flag because we usually recommend setting up automatic payments to avoid being late.
Although every credit card company gets its share of complaints, we recommend being wary of Comenity credit cards. If you use one, be sure that your payment details are up to date. We suggest making paying off your Comenity cards very early, well ahead of the due date. You could pay your statement balance as soon as you get your monthly billing statement, or, to play it even safer, you could make payments throughout the month after making purchases with the card.
The Shopping Cart Trick: Credit Card Approvals With No Hard Inquiry
The shopping cart trick is rumored to let you be approved for certain credit cards without a hard inquiry on your credit reports, also known as a hard credit pull. Instead it only results in a soft inquiry. Some Comenity cards are supposed to work with this trick, as well as some other store cards from Synchrony Bank and Wells Fargo.
Basically, you fill up an online shopping cart and wait for a pop-up featuring your credit card offer. You don’t have to buy anything.
It’s unclear whether or not this method actually works. It may only provide a credit card pre-approval, which means you’re likely to be approved if you apply. If it does work, it could be a good way for people with bad credit to get approved for cards. The credit limits of cards received with this trick are reportedly quite small.
Many people claim they’ve been approved for store cards without hard inquiries, while others try the trick and find that a hard inquiry was actually performed. For those who claim it worked, it’s possible that they just didn’t check the specific credit report that the card issuer used for the inquiry. There are three major credit bureaus that create credit reports — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and card issuers can run hard inquiries on any of them. So, for example, if an issuer does a hard pull on your Experian credit report but you only check your TransUnion report, you won’t see the hard inquiry even though one was made.
The shopping cart trick, if it works, doesn’t guarantee that anyone with any level of credit can be approved for a card. Instead it purports to only rely on a soft credit inquiry, which means the issuing bank takes a look at your credit and sees that you meet its standards for approval. So your credit is still used to make the decision, although a hard inquiry supposedly won’t be made.
With all that being said, some credit card blogs and travel hackers still swear by the shopping cart trick. So here it is, but beware: It could very well result in a hard inquiry, just like any other normal credit card application.
The Shopping Cart Trick
- Make sure that you’re opted-in for credit card promotional offers (you’re opted-in by default, unless you manually opt-out)
- Turn off your web browser’s popup blocker
- Clear your web browser’s cache
- Go to the website of the store you’re interested in (some say joining the loyalty program of the store will increase your odds of getting an offer)
- Add items to the store’s shopping cart (some say getting around $100 of merchandise works best)
- Begin the checkout process, using the same address and personal details as on your credit reports
- Continue the checkout process until you get to the final page, without buying anything
- Wait for a credit card offer to appear; if an offer doesn’t appear, close your browser and repeat steps 3 to 8
According to internet scuttlebutt, if you get a request to enter just the last four digits of your SSN, you might not get a hard inquiry for the application. But if you’re asked to enter your full SSN, you’re likely to get a hard inquiry. So if you’re trying this trick and you get a request for your full SSN, you may want to close your browser and try again.
Comenity Bank Retail Store Credit Cards
Take note that some of the Comenity credit cards in the following tables are discontinued for new applicants, although you can still use the links below to log in to your account, to see details and make payments. In some cases the cards were discontinued for current cardholders as well, meaning your account would have been closed. If that happened you should have received a notice; you can follow your card’s link to learn more.
Comenity Bank Travel Credit Cards
|Orbitz||Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card|
|Red Roof Inn||RediCard+® Visa® Credit Card|
||Total Rewards® Visa® Credit Card|
||Virgin America Visa® Credit Card|
|Westgate Resorts||Westgate Rewards Mastercard®|
Comenity Bank Gas & Auto Credit Cards
|ALON||ALON Credit Card|
|Fuel Rewards||Fuel Rewards Mastercard®|
|Grand Rental Station
Comenity Bank Medical Credit Cards
|ALPHAEON Vision||ALPHAEON Credit Card|
|American Laser Skincare||American Laser Skincare Credit Card|
||CosmetiCredit Credit Card|
||Dental Alliance Credit Card|
||H3 Wellness Plus Credit Card|
||Lifestyle Lift Credit Card|
|My Smile Care
||My Smile Care Credit Card|
||Smile Generation Credit Card|
Comenity Bank Finance & Insurance Credit Cards
|AdWords Business||AdWords Business Credit Card|
|Credit Connect||Credit Connect Credit Card|
||Credo Credit Card|
||Farmers® Rewards Visa® Credit Card|
||Lending Club Patient Solutions Credit Card|
||M.E.S.A. Money Credit Card|
|Your Tuition Solutions
||Your Tuition Solution Credit Card|
Comenity Bank Miscellaneous Credit Cards
|Saturday Night Live||Saturday Night Live Mastercard®|