By: Revanche

My first new store credit card in 10 years

May 24, 2010

While I apply for regular credit cards with almost reckless abandon to get a new round of bonuses every year (no more than 3 per year, noted on a spreadsheet for maximum bonus and cancellation efficiency), my store credit cards have been limited to Macy’s (unused), Victoria’s Secret (unused) and Best Buy (long since canceled).

And now, Banana Republic. On my Desperate for a Sweater shopping trip, there were no coupons or sales. Le horror!  Unfortunately, I simply wouldn’t have time to shop again for weeks and I wasn’t going to survive another week in the frozen tundra of an office space so I bit the bullet and bought a lightly discounted sweater.

Confronted by the usual “do you have a store card, and do you want to sign up for a 20% discount today?” I halfheartedly waved the baited hook away until I realized that that was the only worthwhile discount option. No gift cards in hand, no coupons, no cashback. It was the store card or nearly full price.  My bargain dependent heart couldn’t take it and so I did. Take the card, that is. Oddly enough, I promptly forgot about the card. Three weeks later, it appeared in the mail, I paid the bill and noted the various ways they get you to keep the card:

1. Bonus points for purchases at their stores
2. Loyalty tiers for spending at least $800. per year.
3. Cash outs for every 1000 points, which means any points that are leftover are held prisoner until you spend more.
4. Bonus points for making a purchase outside their stores within 30 days of activation. This is to get you accustomed to spending with their card all the time.

I’ll keep it open long enough to benefit from the bonus point for signing up for paperless statements (500 points) and for making an outside purchase (2000 points). That nets me a $30 credit. But beyond that, is it worth keeping this card?


My thanks …..

to Adam of Money Relationship for including my post on Lingering Side Effects of Debt in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

Be sure to submit to this week’s Carnival hosted by me this week!

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8 Responses to “My first new store credit card in 10 years”

  1. Can you do a rough estimate of how much you would spend at that store, or if you used it 24/7?

    Then from there, calculate the points and see if it’s worth it

    The other option is just to take their points tier and divide it out by the rewards/credits given, to get a % of return

    Compare that to your other rewards cards and it might help make a decision

    My guess is that unless you are a solid BR fanatic, you will not benefit

  2. Every few years, I get one of the $10.00 credits. I only use for Banana purchases, b/c my Amex has a cashback. BUT keep your card! I get a $15.00 gift card each year on my birthday. I love it!

  3. LOL! That’s how I got the J.Jill card, too: 10 percent off the ridiculous bill I was racking up. They added a coupon, too, which helped some more.

    Normally I’d charge all that on AMEX and get a kickback, but the discount was more than American Express rebates on clothing purchases.

    All those blandishments you describe might lead me to use the J.Jill card again, if the discounts exceed the amount AMEX would rebate at the end of the year.

    If you’re not charging anything up on the card, it’s better to keep it than to cancel it, from what I understand it. Makes it look like you’ve got lots of credit, which for incomprehensible reasons improves your credit score.

  4. Jenna says:

    I just signed up for the Banana Republic card as well. I was in a bind, asked to be the plus one for an event that was formal. Needed a dress and didn’t want to spend a ton of money. The lady that helped me found a great dress for $75 (still outside of my price range) gave me a couple discounts and then suggested I open an account. All in all, got an awesome dress right before my event, for $30! Not to mention I’ve already worn it once since the event. Definitely getting my money’s worth. Don’t know how long I’ll keep the card though…

  5. That is how I ended up with 7 credit cards. I’m trying to cut back on those babies now! Honestly, don’t fall for it. It’s best to just put any of those purchases on any of your current cards that allows you to accumulate points and then cash them out.

    But I must know, what kind of sweater? Color? Texture?

  6. I have store cards from Ann Taylor and BR. Given that those are my primary stores I shop at, it works for me. They send coupons to cardholders which also is a nice perk… but only if you were going to be buying stuff from there anyway.

  7. The last store card we got was a Home Depot account for a $50 discount on all our paint supplies a couple of years ago. It was promptly paid off and forgotten about.

    I’m guessing this card will be pretty useless to you once you’re done milking it for the next $30..

  8. Revanche says:

    @FB: I COULD … but I’m kind of too lazy to.

    To be honest, I suspect that since I primarily pay for BR clothing via other CC rewards (redeem for GCs), it’s not worth that much more to me in rewards because I hate spending *real* money when I don’t have to.

    @Frugal Scholar: I suppose it’s worth keeping it just for the annual birthday benefits since there’s no annual fee.

    @FaM: I’m not very concerned with credit score anyway, but for the sake of a few major discounts along the way, it might be worth keeping in the inactive pile.

    @Jenna: There’s an excellent deal!

    @Investing Newbie: 7 store cards?? Wow! I have a ton of CC but they’re cycled for bonuses.

    The sweater’s light brown ribbed cotton, with a single button in the middle. The sides are gathered so they fall in twists away from the button when it’s buttoned up.

    @me in millions: It’s not that I don’t really like BR clothing, they carry the biggest selection of my sized clothing in the area, but it can add up way too quickly. I’ve put a moratorium on spending for now.

    @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff: I’m still waiting for that $30…

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