The Express clothing store card recently re-vamped its rewards. Is it worth a look?
Getting a clothing/retailer’s credit card rarely makes sense. There are really just three circumstances when you should apply for one:
- You can’t get anything better, because you need to get a starter card to establish credit history.
- The store card operates on a major payment network (like the Sams Club Discover card). That way you will be able to use the card at more than just the affiliated store.
- The retailer’s rewards program is insanely generous and you spend enough with them to justify the hassle of getting their store-only card.
So unless you meet one or more of those qualifications, a retailer’s card just doesn’t make sense. So that brings us to the question… does the new Express Fashion credit card make the cut? Well here’s the lowdown on the new “Next” rewards program.
Express Next credit card
This is the card everyone starts out with. There’s no annual fee.
Rewards: It pays 15 points per dollar spent. That may sound like a boatload, but every 2,500 points = $10 reward. So that means each point is only worth $0.004 (less than half a penny). However that’s still a good rewards value, because it means the rebate is 6%. Also there are days each month where additional points can be earned.
Birthday: There is also a “birthday gift” but the Express store card application doesn’t tell us what that is. But I did some digging around and according to an FAQ on Quora, it’s reportedly a $10 coupon.
Coupons: Like most store cards, expect to get coupons/promotions in the mail on occasion.
Express A-List credit card
This is also called “Next” but they add “A-List” onto the name to jazz it up. If you earn 7,500+ points in a given year, then the Express A-List upgrade will happen. Since there’s 15 pts/dollar that means this happens after you spend $500. Keep in mind the year resets on the anniversary date of when you opened the account and to maintain the A-List level, you have to continue to spend that much to keep it.
Rewards: Like the other card, this one also earns 15 points per dollar. However unlike the other one, with the Express Next A-List program the points are worth more – every 2,500 points = $15 rewards (versus $10 on the regular card). So each point is worth $0.006 (50% more) and that brings the total rewards to the equivalent of 9%.
Birthday: This version also gives a birthday gift but the application says it’s a “premium” gift. What does that mean? That I couldn’t find the answer to (but if you know, feel free to chime in on the comments). My guess, based on similar store credit cards, is that the coupon is probably around 2x the base level, which would be $20 for this card. But again that’s just my best guess.
Coupons: Ditto as above.
Shipping: Orders on Express.com get free shipping with the A-List card. However keep in mind that you can often find promo codes (w/o the Express credit card) for free shipping, too.
Now for the bad things
Interest Rates: Both of the Express Fashion credit cards are issued by World Financial Network Bank (WFNNB) who are notorious for dishing out ridiculous APRs. With these cards you’re going to pay a steep 24.99% APR. But remember if you pay your bill in full and on-time every month, interest charges can be avoided.
Store-Use Only: It’s not branded with any major payment network, so the only thing this is good for is shopping at Express stores.
Credit Limit: Some reviews I’ve heard say the Express store card’s credit limit can be quite low. One guy said $200. Obviously better credit scores/history will get better limits. But if you get stuck with a low limit keep in mind how that may affect your credit to debt ratio if you don’t manage it properly.
Would I fill out an Express store card application just to get 15% off the first purchase? Definitely not! Using that as a reason to get a retailer’s card is a bad idea, unless maybe you’re shopping at Lowes or Home Depot where your first purchase could be thousands of dollars. Then the one-time 10-15% discount can be worth it.
However if you frequently shop at their stores, then the Express clothing credit card has one of the best programs on the market, in terms of the percentage rebate it gives. That especially holds true if the account is upgraded to the A-List level. But if you only spend a low amount there, say $500/year, it might not be worth that hassle because that would only net you $30 in rewards.
Other good options for 2013?
If you don’t spend enough at Express to warrant getting their credit card, then check out these:
- Discover It – New card that gives 5% on categories and a full 1% on everything else
- Chase Freedom – 5% on rotating categories + big signup bonus
- Journey℠ Student Rewards from Capital One® – Between the rewards and benefits you can’t go wrong choosing this one
This review was written or last updated August 9, 2013