Warning: Do not apply for the JCPenney credit card without seeing this review! Here’s why the application might be a mistake in November 2013 and beyond.
I actually like shopping at JCPenney stores! When it comes to scoring a good deal on clothes, shoes, jewelry and sometimes even furniture, JCPenney is THE department store to go to. Unfortunately I can’t say they offer the best credit card deals. Take a look for yourself to see why…
Among the highest APRs ever
I'm strongly against credit card debt for obvious reasons, but at the same time, if someone does have a balance I think they should be treated fairly, right? Well judging by the 26.99% listed on the card's application, I think it's safe to conclude they are not charging a fair or even semi-reasonable interest rate.
As if that’s not bad enough, JCP also has a minimum interest charge of $2. So when you are charged interest, you will be charged at least that amount. When you think about it, that means you might end up paying more than 26.99% interest if your balance was small and the interest would have normally been below that amount.
Rewards with the JCP card vs. without
What’s so ironic is that the rewards aren’t much better than the standard JCP Loyalty Rewards program (which you don’t need a JCPenney credit card to get). Compare for yourself to see…
JCP Loyalty Rewards without the credit card
JCP Loyalty Rewards with the credit card
- 1 point per dollar is earned on purchases
- 250 points equals a $10 reward certificate – that equals out to a 4% rebate on spending
As you probably know, sometimes there are special purchases that will qualify you to earn double points the following month. Keep in mind that is not just for credit card holders... regular Loyalty Rewards members without the JCP card will also earn double points in that scenario.
- 1.25 points per dollar is earned on purchases
- 250 points equals a $10 reward certificate – which means a 5% rebate on spending
Conclusion? Only a trivial number of additional points are earned with their card. You're only earning an additional 1% thru their card's reward program. Think about it... instead you could combine the regular JCP Loyalty Rewards and pay using a credit card with 5% cash back to earn even more (4% from the Loyalty Rewards + up to 5% from your own cash back credit card).
To add insult to injury, if you study the fine print on their application you will see that points expire fast:
By the way in case you're wondering, when it comes to the number of points you earn per dollar, there is no difference between the JCPenney gold status and platinum status. As you see above, more $10 certificates are earned but each certificate costs the same number of points (250) regardless of whether the level is regular, gold, or platinum.
Can JCP - as a company - be depended upon?
If you follow the stock market, you're probably well aware of how much difficulty the company has been going thru lately. They're losing over a billion dollars per year. Many pundits speculate that if this continues, it's only a matter of time before they will have to file for bankruptcy protection.
I'm not going to give my opinion on what I think will happen. But do the math and make your own predictions...
How long can that trend really continue?! If there's not a major change, they're driving off a cliff. Just like the housing boom and bust, it's only a matter of time before a collapse may happen.
- Current value of company = $1.9 billion
- Current debt = $5.82 billion
- Profits = negative $1.23 billion during the past 12 months
The new account promotion is a big yawn
As is typical at most department stores, when you apply for a JCPenney card and are approved, you get a discount of 20% off for the first day (at least that was the current offer as I’m writing this). This may sound like smart way to save money but here’s why you should reconsider…How much will you really spend the first day?There are few additional benefits
JCPenney’s clothes are very affordable, so odds are you will rarely spend a ton of money there in a single day. Even if you spend $300, saving 20% on that would only equal $60. That’s not very exciting when you consider there are major credit cards out there that give signup bonuses significantly higher than that.
Is it worth the hard credit inquiry?
Whenever you apply for credit or a loan, a so called “hard” credit inquiry (a.k.a. credit check) is done. Did you know that having too many credit checks within a 12 month period can actually hurt your credit score? This is why you don’t want to apply needlessly for the credit cards you don’t really need or want.
Is it hard to get?
Is it easy or hard to get a card from JCPenney? Well the credit score needed is not publicly disclosed, but based on feedback I've received from customers, my guess would be the requirement is somewhere in the neighborhood of a mid 600's FICO. I'm not sure how their criteria factors in recent bankruptcy. Compared to most high-end credit cards, this card is easy to get. But if you have that score, you can probably get approved for something better - an entry level Visa or MasterCard - from some banks. One such recommendation is at the bottom of this review.
As is typical with store cards, there are the occasional sales and specials for cardholders, but other than that, I don’t see any benefits listed on the JCPenney card application that I would consider special or worthwhile.
As you can see, there are very few good reasons to apply for a JCPenney credit card. The only people I might recommend the card to are those with bad credit since it’s not extremely hard to get approved for. JCPenney's requirements for approval are easier than most major credit cards, so after bankruptcy or for rebuilding credit make sense. For everyone else, the high interest rate and lackluster rewards makes this card end up in the "avoid" category.