Q: I received a notice in the mail from Department Stores National Bank saying that I owe them almost $200 from a credit card. I never recall having an account with this bank. Is this some sort of debt collection scam?
A: Whether that debt is legitimately yours or not, I cannot say. But I can tell you who Department Stores National Bank (DSNB) is and what I think of their cards.
Who are they?
Judging by their name, you may assume this bank is affiliated with numerous department stores. In actuality, it’s only one; Macy’s (and Bloomingdales, which they own). So if you have an account with either one of those stores, then you have a DSNB credit card.
|FDIC Certificate #: 58180|
|Federal Reserve ID: 3382547|
|Charter #: 24622|
|Date Established: October 24, 2005|
|Bank Holding Company (Regulatory Top Holder): Citigroup Inc. (RSSDID: 1951350, Location: New York, NY)|
|Mailing Address: 701 East 60th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 (note: credit card payment address may differ)|
As you can see DSNB is a joint venture with Citibank, which was created in 2005. So yes, they are a 100% legitimate bank and not a scam.
Cards issued by DSNB
- Macy’s Credit Card (for store use only)
- Macy’s American Express (can be used at their stores and anywhere that takes AmEx)
- Bloomingdales Credit Card (for store use only)
- Bloomingdales American Express (can be used at their stores and anywhere that takes AmEx)
All of these cards have major disadvantages. If you have poor credit and can’t qualify for prime credit cards, then I understand why someone would apply. But for everyone else, they’re a bad idea and here’s why…
Usurious Interest Rates – At the time of writing (October 2012) all of the above cards had the same high rate of 24.50%. The applications online listed that one rate (not different tiers) so it looks like everyone gets stuck with 24.50% regardless of how good or bad your credit is.
Underwhelming Rewards – You may be shocked to see that the store-only version of Macy’s does not come with a rewards program. You don’t earn points or cash back. Meanwhile the one from Bloomingdales does earn points, but they’re worth 50% less than what you might expect…
(each point is only worth a 1/2 cent)
Few Benefits – Like most dept. store credit cards, the one thing they have going for them is that they occasionally send out coupons to cardholders. But aside from that, the benefits are almost non-existent on the store-only versions.
There are a few good things to say about them…
Customer Service – I called the Department Stores National Bank phone number (FYI it’s 1-877-493-9207 for Macy’s and 1-866-593-3927 for Bloomingdales) to field some questions I had about their cards. The annoying part was that initially, the automated system wouldn’t let me speak to a rep without entering an account number (since I didn’t have one, I just kept pressing buttons – after 3 failures it connected me). Once the rep was finally on the phone, I was pleasantly surprised to (a) get an American, and (b) he was very knowledge about the card.
Easy to get – If you have half-way decent credit, you should be able to get approved for the store versions. Meanwhile the AmEx versions will require better credit scores. Something to realize is that even though they are branded as AmEx, they are managed and issued by Department Stores National Bank. All the AmEx label means is that it’s the payment network used to process the card’s transactions.
DSNB is not a scam. They are a completely legitimate financial services organization that issues cards for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. However, their cards are of questionable value due to the rewards. To see reward cards that you could qualify for that might offer more value check out this tool from Capital One:
Written or last updated February 2016