Barneys Credit Card = Bad Idea In 2013 For Rewards

If you’re expecting rewards, read my review before you apply.

First of all you won’t find the Barney’s credit card application online. Nor can you apply over the phone. To get it you will have to do so in-store. Between speaking to a sales rep and the [limited] info on their website, here’s what I have concluded about it…

The rewards program won’t make sense for everyone

How much do you spend per year at Barneys department stores? If it’s $25,000 or more per year, then you should get their card. If not, contemplate it carefully because of this tiered rewards structure, called My Barney Bag:

My Barneys Bag rewards program

If you spend less than $2,000 per year at their stores, your rewards percentage is a big fat 0%.

If you spend up to $4,999 per year, that’s only 1%. As we all know just about every credit card will give you that!

Not even the $10,000 to $24,999 tier is that interesting, because the American Express Blue Cash Preferred gives 3% cash back at select major department stores. I don’t think they include Barneys, but a lot of other department stores you probably shop at like Saks and Neiman Marcus are definitely included:

department stores list

Going back to the Barneys card, the other drawback with the rewards program is that those annual spending tiers are based on calendar year (Jan 1st thru Dec 31st). With the year almost half way over right now, it doesn’t make much sense to apply even if you do spend $25k there annually. Instead I would recommend waiting until next January to turn in an application so the full year of spending is under your belt, in order to reach the highest rewards tier you can. Then at the end of the calender year, they mail you the gift card loaded with the rewards. You can then use that towards a full or partial discount off future purchase(s).

Other benefits

Despite the lackluster rewards program, there are several reasons which make the Barneys credit card a compelling choice…

Credit towards alterations. For every $500 spent on full priced merchandise, cardholders get $50 credit towards in-house alterations. This is a good deal, but be aware of the “full price” requirement, as sale items apparently won’t qualify towards this.

Parking. When the card is presented, the parking validation and/or valet at select stores is complimentary. Now I’m not sure how useful this is, because at the stores in my area (Los Angeles) the parking at their Beverly Hills location on Wilshire is already free and the Barneys Co-Op at The Grove offers validation. But hey, I know they don’t call it Barneys New York for nothing… on the west coast we don’t have as many stores. Obviously, those on the east coast can get more use of the benefits.

Shipping for online orders. Ground shipping is offered at no charge and likewise for returns.

Glass of wine. At Fred’s New York, Fred’s Chicago, and Barney Greengrass the cardholder can get one free glass of house wine when they present their card. Sadly, LA isn’t included 🙁

Store promotions and events. Not surprisingly, if you have a credit card from Barneys you’re going to get access to in-store presales and other promotional events.

While writing this review, I called customer service to get the current interest rate and they told me it’s 21%. That’s somewhat high, so this store card is not suitable for people who carry a balance in my opinion. On that note, it’s worth mentioning the phone customer service is better than most credit cards since you are talking to employees of the company, instead of some outsourced third-party bank (as most department store cards will do).

Credit score needed for Barneys? You are going to need a respectable credit score. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but anyone with subpar credit I’m guessing will be denied. Based on customer reviews, I’ve heard they usually pull TransUnion, sometimes Equifax, and all of their credit card applications are manually reviewed. Though I cannot confirm this info, so I cannot guarantee that’s accurate info.

The takeaway? Good for benefits, bad for rewards

In my opinion there are only two scenarios that people should apply:

If you spend at least $25,000 per year at Barneys. If that’s the case, then the 4% rebate you get is better than what you will find on any other rewards card.

AND/OR

You are applying to get the benefits. If you shop at their stores a lot, this is a logical choice. Though at the same time, you might want to consider charging your actual purchases to another credit card that will earn you higher rewards, especially if you spend $4,999 per year or less.

Remember you can’t apply for the Barneys card online. If you want one, you will have to fill out an application next time you’re at their store.

This review was written or last updated May 21, 2013

 
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As of 2015, you can apply online.