Nordstrom Credit Card: Should You Avoid It?

Discuss the Visa & MasterCard payment networks as well as cards that operate through them.
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CreditCardGirl
 
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Nordstrom Credit Card: Should You Avoid It?

Postby CreditCardGirl » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:52 am

(2015 Review) Should you apply for a Nordstrom credit card? Not so fast! Before you fill out the Nordstrom Visa application there are pros AND cons to be aware of!

paying at department store
Quick Summary: They offer 2 cards - one for store-use only and one that's a Visa. Both are nearly the same.

What the have in common is that you earn 2 points per dollar spent at their stores. 2,000 points = $20 Nordstrom note (gift certificate). That means you're only earn 2% at their stores, which isn't a compelling reason to get either version. However the benefit of complimentary alterations that cardholders receive might be worth it. The signup offer that comes with both is pitiful; a $20 bonus after spending $100.

Where they differ is that the Nordstrom Visa can be used outside their store, but it only earns 1 point per dollar (1%) which makes it a boring choice for your other spending.If you care for the full in-depth review, then continue reading...

Since I am such a huge fan of the store, of course their credit card intrigued me. Let’s be honest here- their clothes are not exactly the cheapest (they do over $10 billion per year in sales!) so any way to get rewards on my purchases there sounds good to me!

But are the rewards on the Nordstrom card any better than what a regular cash back credit card offers? I was determined to find out...

There actually two different cards they issue:
  • Nordstrom Card (Store-Use Only) - This is your basic no-thrills department store credit card. It can only be used at Nordstrom’s stores, website, and catalog since it is not affiliated with Visa, Discover, Amex, etc. This card I would advise to stay away from since it’s rarely worth hassling with something you can only use at one retailer.
  • Nordstrom Visa Signature Card - This seems to be the most widely issued Nordstrom credit card. As a "Visa Signature" there is no preset limit. That does NOT mean you can spend whatever you want, it just means that each purchase is approved or disapproved by the system on a case by case basis.
Note: There used to be a Nordstrom Visa Platinum card but I no longer see an application for it on their website. My guess is it's been completely phased out and replaced with the Visa Signature -OR- the Platinum still exists and they only give it to applicants whose credit score isn't quite good enough to qualify for the Signature. Either way, you need good credit to get these Visa cards.

Debit Cards: There is also a Nordstrom debit card but it is for store-use only (they used to have a Visa debit card but in 2013 I no longer see the application for that on their website). The debit rewards/benefits are not quite as good as the credit cards (I'll explain why in a moment).

How good (or bad) are the rewards?
Now, let’s talk about the rewards! I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re like me, this is the only reason you’re considering the Nordstrom card in the first place!
  • 2x points for each dollar spent at Nordstroms. All of their credit and debit cards give this.
  • 1x points for each dollar spent else. Obviously this only applies with the Nordstrom Visa Signature and Visa debit card.
  • 2,000 points = $20 "Nordstrom Note" (gift certificate) that is mailed out automatically
On all of the cards, if you spend $2,000+ at their stores annually there are free shipping benefits for purchases made in-store. But if you're already at the store, you probably wouldn't want to ship it unless it's a gift, right?

Verdict?
Honestly, I was pretty disappointed to see this. Most department store credit cards give higher than that… you're basically earning 2% at their stores and 1% elsewhere. This is hardly impressive considering that you can get 3% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores (including Nordstrom) with the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express. Here is my full review of it.

The main difference between the Visa Signature versus the other credit/debit cards from Nordstrom is that it offers an alternate travel points options. Instead of earning the above, it gives 1 pt + 1 "travel unit" per dollar for purchases at Nordstrom and 1 "travel unit" per dollar elsewhere. If you choose this rewards program it can yield more than the typical 1 cent value per point but the question is... if it's airline or hotel rewards that you want, then wouldn't you just instead apply for one of those cards?

Also going back to why the debit cards are inferior... the debit can't be used outside their stores, so you can't earn points anywhere else... so it's a card that's not very useful.

What are the interest rates?
Keep in mind these things change all the time but with this said, at the time of publishing the APRs are:
For Nordstrom purchases (4 tiers): 10.90% – 14.90% – 18.90% – 22.90%
For all other purchases: (4 tiers): 14.90% – 18.90% – 22.90% – 22.90% (yes, the last 2 are the same)
As I'm sure you can guess, the better your credit score the lower the rate you pay. Bad credit scores/histories (if they can still meet the qualifications to get approved) are probably going to be hit with the higher APRs.

Does it really make sense for you?
After reading my Nordstrom credit card review you will probably draw the same conclusion as me: It doesn't make sense to get the card for just rewards program. Earning 1% elsewhere and 2% at the store just isn't all that exciting.

Check out a couple of the cards advertised here such as the Discover it card or the Chase Freedom, both of which will probably do more for you in terms of what you can earn.

Is it hard to get a Nordstrom credit card? If you have bad credit or a history, then applying for the basic Nordstrom card (store-only version) might be worth a shot, but it's not what I would qualify as being as to get. I'm not sure if they're bankruptcy friendly. However what we can conclude is that it will likely have lower credit score requirements than prime-level banks (like AmEx and Chase). It could be a good way to help build your credit, along with other cards for fair credit.

Last but not least, what if you don't have the discipline to handle credit cards? If that's the case, then I would agree the Nordstrom debit card would be a good idea since it won't let you spend more than the cash you have. However keep in mind you'll only be able to use it at their department stores since the Nordstrom Visa check card has been axed.

History of The Company: Originally started as a shoe store in 1901, Nordstrom has now been chugging on for well over a century and has since diversified its products to say the least! They still have awesome shoes, but I love them the most for their great selection of designer clothes. Unfortunately I do notice some locations have better inventory than others. For example, their store at The Grove in Los Angeles has a way better selection of styles and sizes than their store at Somerset Collection in Troy, MI. Regardless, they still are one of the best department stores out there!


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