Carson Pirie Scott Credit Card Review

old sign at carson pirie scott building in chicagoIf you live around Chicago, then I’m sure you know all about Carson Pirie Scott. Like most department stores, they have their own credit card. Here’s a lowdown on the good and bad that comes with it.

How the tiered rewards actually work…

The Carson Pirie Scott credit card has a tiered rewards system – what you get depends on how much is spent per calendar year. The different account levels are as follows:

Classic: When you apply for their credit card, this is the level you start at. Other than cardholder sales and a birthday coupon, it doesn’t really give you much.

Signature: This level is reached after earning 500 to 999 points per year (you get 1 point per dollar spent). Each 500 points scores a 15% off all-day coupon, which is automatically mailed to the accountholder. There is also a once-per-year benefit of a coupon for free shipping.

Signature Select: This level is reached after annual spending hits $1,000 to $1,499. It’s basically still the same system, where a one-day coupon is mailed out each time 500 points is accumulated, but the difference is that it will be for 20% instead of 15%. For the free shipping, two coupons per year are given instead of one.

Elite: This is for the big spenders – $1,500+ per year. It’s the same as the Signature Select, except that the shipping coupon is done 3x per year and they also throw in a “anniversary celebration” coupon for being a Carson Pirie Scott cardholder.

Carson Pirie Scott vs. other department store cards?

What makes Carson Pirie Scott different from most department store credit cards is that your points only earn coupons, not a gift certificate (i.e. $25 or $50 off any purchase). If you use the 15% off coupon for a purchase of a few hundred dollars than it could be lucrative. But for smaller transactions it won’t make sense. Here’s why…

$500 = 15% coupon
15% off coupon applied to a $100 purchase = $15 savings
Rebate = only 3% on your spending ($15 = 3% back for spending $500)

What’s buried in the fine print

  • The 20% coupon awarded at the Signature Select and Elite tiers cannot be used for fragrances, cosmetics, or home store (those categories will be only be 15% off).
  • To stay in a given tier, you will have to maintain that level of spending, otherwise the credit card account will be downgraded the following year.
  • Carson Pirie Scott furniture gallery/department purchases won’t earn you any points whatsoever.
  • The points WILL expire every December 31st for those in the “Classic” tier. With other levels the points will rollover to the following year.
  • The exact APR will depend on the cardholder’s creditworthiness, but overall, the interest rates definitely run on the high side (as with most department store cards).

Should you apply for it or not?

In my opinion, the Carson Pirie Scott credit card might make sense if you consistently spend around $1,000+ annually at their stores (that way you reach the Signature Select level). But even then, it’s only going to be worthwhile if you use the reward coupon strategically and apply it towards a big purchase. The other big downside is that furniture purchases won’t earn points and are not eligible for the 20% coupons.

If you want to apply, you will have to do it in-store. As I write this review, an online application isn’t available.

Can you get 5% at all department stores?

There are a few major credit cards on the market that give 5% at all department/clothing stores during certain seasons each year. I would definitely recommend checking them out.

Review written April 2011

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Carson’s cards are horrible. I have not charged on this card in months. Out of nowhere they began adding minimum use fees. I did not even think about making payments since I hadn’t made any charges. Then my credit report showed they said I missed payments. They were charging fees on my card that wereven only disclosed in fine print on the website, not the application. The account is now closed but my credit took an unnecessaryand unfair hit.

Carson interest rates are terrible! I can not wait to close this card! I will be so relieved when I do. Never shopping there again.

DO NOT SHOP HERE!!!!!!! DO NOT EVER APPLY FOR A CARSONS CREDIT CARD. Comenity Bank is close to criminal in their practices.

My mom passed away in December of last year. My sisters and I methodically cleared out all of her balances across 5 separate credit cards, as we were raised that you paid back all of our debts. The funny thing is that we were not paying off our debts, but our mother’s. Only one issue continues to exist. Carsons!

I tried repeatedly to cancel the card. I’m now on my 9th attempt. They continue to add on late fees, even though we paid off the remaining balance in January. I’ve been told 5 separate times that the card has been cancelled and late fees waived.

Yet, here I am again calling Comenity Bank (Carson’s credit card issuer), trying to resolve an issue that every other one of their competitors swiftly and professionally resolved. They continue to pass this along, saying everything will be straightened out. Then a month later, low and behold, another bill arrives in my mailbox.

I strongly recommend you neither shop at Carsons nor ever sign up for their credit card.

I’m quite sure you do not by law have to pay your moms credit card debt In the first place . Possibly from the estate but not out of your pocket .

They are scam artist. They make it impposible to use coupons. Classic bait and switch don’t waste your time shopping there.

Every coupon, deal, reward has it’s fine print. The store dictates what percentages it can afford to give based on the profit margin it can afford to sacrifice. Most speciality departments are often leased by other companies that decrease the profit margin that the store can afford to give away. Certain departments have merchandise that has less of a mark up. Internet commerce has made store fronts incredibly unprofitable with the high overhead of rent, utilities, merchandise loss and employees. If consumers like trying on clothes and touching merchandise before purchasing then the reality of not getting the bare bottom pricing needs to be tolerated and give aways will become a thing of the past. Ecommerce will sadly significantly diminish the presence of storefronts. Carson’s is trying desperately to maintain it’s storefronts by giving away what it can to attract more customers but it doesn’t seem to be successful does it?

DON’T fall for Carson’s scam! So many of my rewards are turned down with confusing messages about how they can’t take them for sale items, or beauty products, or during special events, etc, etc, etc. I leave the store feeling as though I have been scammed every time. Also ,they try to trick you with their statements, if you return something you won’t see the return and they will say that is their policy, not to show the return. Something is not right about shopping there. A true reward is money you can use on any merchandise you want, not what they dictate.