Macy’s is one of those legendary New York City department stores with a history that puts it into a league of its own. But as more customers stuff their wallets with more general rewards cards that can be used anywhere, does it make sense to sign up for a department store credit card?
PayPrizes.com’s 2019 Store Credit Card Study found that the average store card APR is nearly 25%, and that many cards from the nation’s top retailers come with other fine print that could leave cardholders paying far more in interest than they would with other types of credit cards.
Macy’s is known for its designer- and store-brand clothing, jewelry, home goods, accessories and cosmetics sold in its brick-and-mortar stores, and it has a good reputation for service. But are those perks enough for you to consider applying for one of the store’s two credit cards?
Shoppers are considered for both the Macy's Credit Card and the Macy's American Express Credit Card when applying; if approved, you can choose which card you want. In this review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each card so that you can decide if applying for one will be worth your while.
Since the perks on both cards are pretty slim, we’ll also take a look at the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card as an alternative for those who don’t want to be tied down to a store-branded credit card.
Before we take a look at each of the two cards offered individually, let’s start with Star Rewards, the store’s loyalty program, since it’s tied to the benefits you earn with both cards. Only cardmembers can take part in the top three levels — silver, gold and platinum.
When you apply and are approved for a Macy’s credit card, you automatically receive membership in the program, which has four levels:
- Bronze (for non-cardholders)
- Spend required: N/A
- Perks: Earn 1,000 points per $1 spent only on Star Money Days; extra savings offers at checkout and invitations to special events; and a birthday surprise.
- Spend required: $1-$499.99 a year
- Perks: Bronze benefits, along with a 25% discount on any day you choose with Star passes.
- Spend required: $500-$1,199.99 a year
- Perks: Bronze and Silver benefits, along with free shipping at macys.com.
- Spend required: $1,200 and up per year
- Perks: Bronze, Silver and Gold benefits, along with 5% cashback rewards for card spending at Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage and macys.com.
Macy's Credit Card vs. Macy's American Express Credit Card
Who the Macy's Credit Card is best for
This card is for those who do most of their shopping at Macy’s, either in-store or online. But the perks that come with this card are so paltry that you have to question why you’d even apply for it.
What we like about the card
The card has a $0 annual fee. The sign-up bonus for new cardmembers allows them to Save 20% today and tomorrow, up to a total of $100. You sometimes receive discounts at the register.
There are occasional promotional special event offers where interest is deferred if you pay the balance in full by the end of the promotional period. The more you spend, the better perks you receive under the Star Rewards program. But if you don’t pay off the balance in full in the allotted time frame, you may find yourself on the hook for back interest from the purchase date.
Things to watch out for
The card comes with a steep regular purchase 26.99% variable APR. That adds up quickly if you carry a balance. There are no real perks that come with this card aside from the limited Star Rewards program.
You can’t earn Star Rewards with this card except on Star Money Days. And spend them quickly, because each reward is only valid for 30 days after being issued.
If you take advantage of special event offers that defer interest on the card but don’t pay it off by the end of the promotional period, the regular purchase 26.99% variable APR kicks back in.
Read the fine print with the card’s sign-up bonus, because you only receive the discount when you use the card at Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage and macys.com on the day you sign up or the day after.
You can’t use the discount for services, select licensed departments, Apple products, smartwatches/jewelry and select tech accessories, gift cards, restaurants, gourmet food and wine. If you’re not instantly approved for the card, you won’t receive the bonus.
Who the Macy's American Express Credit Card is best for
If you’re a loyal Macy’s shopper but want to earn rewards for spending outside the department store, this is your card. And thanks to its tie to American Express, you receive travel and protection perks that you’d expect from that brand.
What we like
You can maintain your affinity for shopping at Macy’s but also earn rewards for spending outside the store with this card. Like the Macy's Credit Card, this card also comes with the same sign-up bonus — Save 20% today and tomorrow, up to a total of $100. You earn 3% back in rewards at restaurants outside of Macy's, 2% back in rewards at gas stations & supermarkets outside of Macy's, and 1% back in rewards everywhere else. It has a $0 annual fee.
This card, like the Macy's Credit Card, comes with occasional register discounts and promotional special event offers under the Star Rewards program. For every 1,000 Star Rewards points you earn, you receive a $10 Star Money reward that can be used at Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage or macys.com.
You also get some American Express perks, including car rental discounts, cruise ship special fares and amenities, discounts at 18,000 participating hotels, $100 off qualifying air and hotel vacation packages, and access to more than 1,000 premium hotels, complete with a 20% discount on rates, daily breakfast for two, free amenities and the chance to upgrade at check-in. You can also buy tickets to popular events before the general public.