I used to work at Abercrombie and Fitch. It was at their West Coast flagship store (located at The Grove in Los Angeles). A huge location that was 3 stories tall with an extra loud playlist that made me feel like I was working in a nightclub. When you’re working an entire shift through that, come prepared with a dose of aspirin for the headache you will surely get.
My job was to just stand in front of the stairs and say hi to customers who walked in. Since I wasn’t a cashier, I didn’t have to try to sell the Abercrombie credit card to them. After looking over the application, I’m glad that wasn’t one of my responsibilities because it’s one of the worst store cards in existence.
Problem #1: Insane, usurious interest rates
Okay, so I know when we’re young, we shouldn’t exactly expect to get great deals on our credit cards. But even taking that into account, I think A&F is being overzealous with what they charge:
- 24.99% Variable APR
- Minimum interest charge of $1.00 if you are charged interest
- Up to $35 late payment fee
- Up to $25 returned payment fee
I mean their clothes are already expensive enough. If you already are paying $60 for a polo shirt, you don’t want to pay almost 25% interest on it in the event you carry a balance. That’s too much.
Of course as with any credit card, you can avoid interest and fees if you always make your payments in full and on-time every month.
Problem #2: There’s no rewards program
This is my biggest beef with the Abercrombie card. Why bother getting it if you don’t get to earn rebates?
Most retailer credit cards WILL give you some sort of rewards program. However if you are a student, what I would recommend is to get the Discover it Card for Students. Here’s why…
- Yes, Discover cards are accepted at Abercrombie.
- You don’t pay an annual fee.
- You get 5% cash back on reward categories that change each quarter of the year. At least one of those quarters is usually clothing stores (so when that happens you can use it at Abercrombie and earn 5%).
- You get 1% cash back everywhere else you use it.
Hmm let’s see… you can get all of those rewards or none at all with the Abercrombie and Fitch credit card. I think the choice is kind of obvious.
Problem #3: A&F is good for one store only
You can’t use their store card anywhere else. Not even at Hollister, which of course is owned by them, so that’s pretty stupid.
This makes their store card even less useful. As if high rates and no rewards program wasn’t bad enough, you can’t use it for anything else except for shopping at Abercrombie and their website.
Managing your bills every month would be pretty chaotic if you had to get a different friggin’ card for every place you shopped, right?
Problem #4: Low credit limits
I’ve actually heard of some department stores that give people credit limits of a few thousand dollars. But most of the customer reviews I’ve read about the A&F card talk about low credit limits – often in the range of $200 to $500.
Even if you don’t send that much in a given month, it’s still too low and here’s why: using too much of a card’s limit can be bad for your credit score. I’m not singling out their card, as this holds true for all credit cards.
Why? Part of your FICO score is based on something called “credit utilization,” which is a fancy term for the percentage of a card’s credit limit you use. Using too high of a percentage on any card may bring down your score.
So what percentage of your limit should you use to maximize your credit score? The scoring companies keep the exact number a secret, but they do give use hints like this (copy/pasted from one of their websites):
Many experts suggest using no more than 10-30%. If your Abercrombie credit card had only a $300 limit that would be quite hard to do, since 30% of $300 is only $90 in purchasing power. What can you buy with that?!
And keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you pay off your bill in full every month. With most cards what usually gets reported to the credit bureaus is the amount owed on your statement. So even if you pay it off, that balance was still probably reported.
Problem #5: Questionable customer service
As much as I hated working at their store, admittedly the customer service they offer is usually good. But can the same be said if you have their credit card account?
The card is not directly issued or managed by Abercrombie. They have outsourced to a company called Comenity, who handles cards for dozens of different stores. When you call their customer service number (which BTW is 1-800-695-9583) you may not exactly be impressed with the quality. When I called it was an annoying computer I had to talk to and when I kept saying “representing” the voice kept recommending me to do something different like check account balance or get a payment address… ARRGH!
The bottom line: you have 5 reasons to look elsewhere!
Even if you are brand new to credit, I see little reason to apply for a credit card from Abercrombie. Instead, I would recommend you try out this tool to see if you are pre-qualified for any better card offers. It only takes a minute to check with the Capital One Card Finder Tool or CardMatch.