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