Review: Should you get the Boston Store credit card?

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Invited to apply for the Boston Store Credit card last time you bought something at the mall? If you’re a frequent shopper – or trying to build your credit with a store credit card, you may be thinking about applying. But read this review first – this card has more fine print than most store cards we see, when it comes to redeeming rewards.

The basics

The Boston Store Credit card, issued by Comenity, is part of the Bon-Ton family of department stores, which also includes Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s or Younkers. Boston store locations are sprinkled primarily throughout the northern U.S.

It has no annual fee and an APR of 25.74 percent. The card isn’t branded with a major network (like MasterCard or Visa), so you’re limited to using it with Bon-Ton (in-store or online).

The perks

Like most store cards, the Boston Store credit card has perks for loyal shoppers. These include:

  • Rewards on spending: Get 1 point for every dollar spent with Bon-Ton. More on what those points are worth below.
  • Special discount mailings and a special “birthday offer” (no exact details on what a birthday offer might entail)
  • Extra discount mailings if you reach Elite status (spending at least $500 a year) or VIP status (spending at least $1,500 a year).
  • Free shipping on orders over $25 if you hit VIP status.

Redeeming rewards

Here’s how the Boston Store credit card’s rewards system works:

  • Earn points when you use your card with Bon-Ton (1 point per $1 spent)
  • Get $20 Off Rewards Cards for every 200 points you earn. This means, you’re essentially earning 10 percent of your spending back in rewards. These $20 Rewards Cards will be mailed to you once a month and are valid for 45 days.
  • Get bonus rewards for extra spending. If you make a purchase online and in store in a given month,
    the amount of your rewards card will be doubled. You can also double your rewards if you make a specific purchase from the month’s “Featured Department” and from another department. Featured Departments will be announced via mailings and on Bon-Ton’s social media pages.

The catch(es) …

Ten percent back on your Bon-Ton spending and chances to double your rewards sounds pretty good. However, there’s some fine print in the rewards program:

  • To use your $20 Rewards Cards, you must use your Boston Store credit card to pay for the remainder of the purchase.
  • To use a $20 Rewards Card, the purchase amount must be at least $50. Redeeming more than one $20 Rewards Card? You must satisfy the $50 purchase minimum for each. For example, if you want to use two $20 Rewards Cards for $40 off, you must make a minimum purchase of $100.

Is the Boston Store card a good card to get?

First things first: We don’t like the hurdles to redeeming rewards. Retail cards aren’t known for generous rewards, but many will at least allow you to redeem your hard-earned points on any purchase — not just ones that meet a certain dollar threshold. If you don’t regularly make large purchases, Boston Store is basically requiring you to spend extra (at least $50) to use your points. And it gives you a deadline of 45 days to do it. If you don’t have a planned $50 purchase in the next 45 days, your $20 Rewards Card might expire.

So get this card only in two circumstances:

  • You need to build credit. Store cards are known for being more lenient with approvals for those with imperfect credit (See the best department stores for no or bad credit). Use the card for necessary purchases, pay them off on time and move to a better card when your score goes up.
  • You really do shop a lot at Boston Store. If you never leave Boston Store with less than $50 in merchandise, by all means, get the card for its rewards.

When your credit is good enough to qualify you for a mainstream card, you’ll have plenty of better options. The American Express Blue Cash cards let you earn bonus cash back on a bunch of U.S. department stores, including Boston Store. And that cash back is yours to use as you please (you don’t have to redeem it in $20 increments at Boston Store).

Why we gave it 1.5 out of 5 stars

This card was rated based on our standards for store credit cards.

Special financing: This card offers no introductory financing.
Offers ongoing rewards/discounts: This card offers rewards with a decent return on spending. Just note the red tape in redeeming them in the review above.
Fair interest terms: This card's APR is above the average APR for store credit cards.
Consumer-friendly incentives: This card does offer perks like free shipping, but only on purchases above $25 and only for cardholders whose spending is high enough to give them VIP status. So we rewarded half a star.
Can be used everywhere? This card is not co-branded with a major card network and can be used only at Bon-Ton stores.

This review was written or last updated Mar 2017