2020 Review: JCPenney Credit Card – A Good Department Store Card?
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Earn $10 at JCPenney for every 200 points you earn
15% or 5% off select purchases on the day you open your card
1 point per $1 spent at JCPenney using your card, and 1 point per $2 spent using another form of payment
Gold status after spending at least $500 in a year
Platinum status after spending at least $100 in a year
$10 or $15 birthday gift each year on your birthday
Free shipping from JCPenney.com with Platinum status
Earn up to 2,000 points on a single purchase
No annual fee
High APR of 27.99%
The JCPenney card’s features revolve around special deals and offers for customers of the department store chain.
If you shop often at JCPenney, you should find some solid value here. The 1X point per dollar works out to a 5% cash back equivalent, which is good even by normal rewards card standards.
It’s important to note that this card can only be used at JCPenney, either online or in store.
Becoming a cardholder will grant you access to bonus events and special savings days. And the higher membership tiers expand on the savings, including select 30% off discount days and extra point earnings.
Continue reading to see if, and how, this card will benefit you.
The JCPenney Credit Card rewards program offers 1X rewards point per dollar for every purchase you make at JCPenney stores. And for every 200 points you earn, you’ll get a JCP reward certificate that’s worth $10. That means you’ll get a cash back equivalent of 5%.
1X point per dollar at JCPenney
Introductory Bonus Offer
15% or 5% off select purchases on the day you open the card
You can earn up to 2,000 points on a single purchase.
The point redemption process for this card is pretty simple.
Every time you earn 200 points (by spending $200), you’ll receive a $10 JCPenney rewards certificate.
So there’s little fuss in turning your points into something you can use. As long as your account is in good standing (which means paying on time each month), you’ll be able to earn points and get the reward certificate.
Your points won’t expire as long as your account remains active: In this case, that means making a purchase that earns rewards at least once in a 12-month period.
Beyond the basic reward membership JCPenney offers, which anyone can enroll in, there are three membership tiers associated with this card. Each one accumulates additional perks as you rank up.
The first and standard cardholder tier offers:
Birthday gift: You’ll be emailed a special birthday gift, probably a JCP reward certificate, as long as you’re in good standing and have earned points within the last year.
Bonus events: You’ll get access to special bonus events which allow for increased point earnings.
150+ credit savings days: Exclusive saving days for JCPenney cardholders
Special financing: You’ll gain access to more financing offers, subject to credit approval and with minimum monthly payments required (follow the terms carefully, as these might be deferred-interest offers).
The Gold membership tier requires you spend $500 or more within a calendar year, and expands on those perks, adding:
Passbook of coupons: A booklet of special deals and offers, including a Pick Your Own Sale day and more
Birthday gift upgrade: The certificate you receive on your birthday is increased to $10.
The third and final tier, the Platinum membership, has a $1,000 annual spending requirement and adds:
Bonus point days: You’ll have access to special opportunities to earn additional points on brands throughout the store.
Platinum Appreciation: Enjoy exclusive sale days with an extra 30% off.
Birthday gift upgrade: The certificate you receive on your birthday is increased to $15.
The Terms & Fees
Balance Transfer APR
Cash Advance APR
Foreign Transaction Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Cash Advance Fee
Returned Payment Fee
Up to $38
There isn’t really much hidden here. But you should take note of the high interest rate.
In order to avoid accruing interest on your balance, we recommend paying off your statement balance in full each month. If you follow that strategy, assuming you’re paying on time, you’d also ensure that your account remains in good standing. That way, you can continue to earn rewards and won’t have to worry about paying interest for your purchases.
It’s a pretty rewarding option, and it can lead to some decent savings, especially if you manage to reach the higher membership tiers.
With the 5% cash back equivalent and bonus days, you could probably earn some decent savings just by being a cardmember.
But some spending is required to really get the most from this card. For Gold status, you’ll have to spend at least $500 in a calendar year to get additional discounts via a coupon book, and for Platinum status, $1,000 to unlock more bonus days and Platinum Appreciation. So, it might only be worth it for die-hard JCPenney shoppers.
All the necessary info you’ll need is listed below, and you’ll typically hear back instantly if you’ve been approved or not.
What Credit Scores Do You Need for the JCPenney Credit Card?
The JCPenney Credit Card is designed for people with fair credit.
If you’re within 580–669 for FICO and 601–660 for VantageScore, you’re considered to have fair credit. Obviously, it’ll be even better if you have higher credit scores.
With that being said, approval relies on more than just credit scores; if you have lower credit scores than what are recommended, you may still be approved. Or, even if you have high credit scores, you might not be accepted.
Qualifications and Requirements
Must be 18 to apply
Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number
Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
For every dollar spent you’ll earn one point. For every 200 points you earn, you’ll get a JCP reward certificate that’s worth $10.
Therefore, the cash back equivalent for your spending works out to 5%.
When will my points expire?
Your points won’t expire as long as your account remains active: In this case, that means making a purchase that earns rewards at least once in a 12-month period. And as long as your account remains in good standing (which means paying your bill on time each month), you’ll continue to earn rewards.
How much do I need to spend to get the benefits?
You won’t have to spend anything to get the most basic level of benefits, like reward points and bonus events. But to reach the Gold and Platinum tiers, you’ll need to spend $500 or $1,000 in a calendar year, respectively.
The Amazon card doesn’t have an annual fee, but it does require you to subscribe to Amazon Prime. If you don’t want to do that, there’s always the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card (Review). It doesn’t require a subscription, but you’ll get lesser rewards than you would with the Prime card.
Similar to the JCPenney Credit Card, the Amazon Prime card earns up to 5% cash back. But you won’t be confined to earning rewards in one place — it earns not only at Amazon, but also at Whole Foods, with a smaller reward at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% everywhere else.
While you won’t get exclusive saving days or coupon books, you will gain some travel and shopping protections, such as travel accident insurance and purchase protection.
5% cash back at:
Whole Foods Markets
2% cash back at:
1% cash back for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
$70 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon approval
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: At eligible hotels you’ll get a $25 food and beverage credit, automatic room upgrades when available, VIP guest status, and more.
Visa Signature Concierge: Call any time for non-emergency assistance, like help making dining or travel reservations.
Shopping and travel protections: Including travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and purchase protection
Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% to 22.24% Variable
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $0 (Amazon Prime membership required)
Requires active Prime membership
Cash back can be redeemed for statement credits or at Amazon.com checkout
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
Earn 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
Earn 1% back on all other purchases
Get a $70 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval
But instead of featuring typical rewards, the Target card offers an automatic 5% discount on eligible purchases. Cardholders will get early access to certain promotions as well as let in on exclusive sales. So you’ll still earn some savings, but in different ways than the JCPenney Card.
If you prefer this red-themed department store over the others, maybe this is the retail credit card for you.
5% off eligible purchases at Target and Target.com
Free two-day shipping: Get free two-day shipping on eligible purchases from Target.com.
30-day extended returns: Get 30 extra days to make returns on purchases made with a REDcard.
Anniversary bonus savings: Sign up for Target marketing emails to receive a 10% off coupon for Target purchases by email on your account anniversary.
Early access offers: Receive occasional early access offers to Target events, promotions, and sales. These offers may be based on your previous purchases and location.
Exclusive extras: Get opportunities for exclusive deals and discounts, only available when purchasing with a REDcard.
Purchase APR: 24.40% Variable
Annual fee: $0
5% off every day at Target & Target.com.*
Free 2 day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items at Target.com.*
Early Access to products and promotions*
Exclusive Extras including special items and offers*
Starbucks discount on in-store locations – get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
Cartwheel – save 5-50% on hundreds of items in store & get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
Target Subscriptions – save 5% on everyday essentials delivered on your schedule when you subscribe, plus get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
Get everyday 5% savings on specialty gift cards when you pay with your REDcard*
Target Wallet, easy and fast checkout. Use Wallet in the Target app to save with Cartwheel and pay with REDcard by scanning your phone at check out in store.
*Some restrictions apply. See Target.com/redcard for benefits and program rules
However, this is also an American Express card and can therefore be used everywhere Amex is accepted. While the bulk of the rewards come from restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets, the benefits deal strictly with Macy’s.
So you’ll have more freedom with where to use this card, and you’ll get discounts like annual Star Passes which save you 25%. In addition, you’ll gain access to Amex Offers, providing exclusive reward deals at a slew of different vendors.
If Macy’s is your preferred department store, this is another viable option for you.
3X points per dollar at Restaurants
2X points per dollar at:
1X point per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
20% off Macy’s purchases on the day you’re approved and the day after, up to $100 in savings
Annual Spend Requirement
Annual Star Passes
Star Money Days
Perks and Offers
5% Back in Rewards at Macy’s
Star Passes: Get Star Passes each year, which can be used to get 25% off at Macy’s on any chosen day.
Perks and Offers: Receive occasional special offers at checkout, event invitations, access to exclusive sales, and more.
Star Money Days: These are limited-time events during which members can earn points on eligible Macy’s purchases when spending with their credit cards.
Amex Offers: Access the Amex Offers program, which provides opportunities to save money by earning additional rewards at a changing selection of retailers.
Purchase APR: 25.24% Variable
Annual fee: $0
3X points per dollar at restaurants, 2X points per dollar at gas stations and grocery stores, 1X point for all other purchases
Macy’s Star Pass mailings
Surprise savings at checkout
Star Money days
Registry star rewards
Free shipping for Gold and Platinum members only
5% back in rewards at Macy’s for Platinum members only
So rather than focusing on benefits and discounts centered on a single store, you’ll earn cash back for everything you buy, no matter where you shop. And as far as no annual fee reward cards go, the Citi Double Cash is one of the best available.
Along with a flat rate of 2% cash back, you’ll be able to access your FICO Bankcard Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report. That’s a pretty useful perk, being able to keep an eye on one of your credit scores.
With this card you’ll get more freedom in where you can earn, but it will be less than the 5% cash back equivalent the JCPenney Credit Card offers.
2% cash back for every purchase you make (must pay at least the minimum due on time)
1% back when you make a purchase
1% back when you pay for that purchase
Free FICO credit score: Keep tabs on your FICO Bankcard Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report.
Personal concierge service: Call 1-800-508-8930 to speak with your own personal assistant, for help with all kinds of non-emergency tasks.
Citi Private Pass: Get preferred access and presale tickets to select events and experiences, including music, sports, dining, and theater.
Quick customer service: Call customer support and say “representative” to be connected with a human rep more quickly than usual.
Purchase APR: 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable).
Annual fee: $0
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
The JCPenney Credit Card offers 1X point per dollar at JCPenney, which comes to a 5% cash back equivalent. It features membership tiers with increasingly beneficial perks, including special savings and offers for JCPenney shoppers. This card can only be used at JCPenney.
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