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Macy's credit cards provide shoppers with a decent way to save some money and (possibly) earn additional cash towards future Macy's shopping trips. The basic version of this card (the Macy's Credit Card) lets you receive special discounts and promotions throughout the calendar year that you otherwise wouldn't have access to. The AmEx version (the Macy's American Express Card) offers those sames discounts and promotions with other additional perks which we'll discuss below.
Should you be using a Macy's credit card?
It depends. For starters, the regular Macy's credit card accrues NO rewards on the individual dollars you are spending. So if you can't qualify for the AmEx option we think you're better off using a general purpose cash-back card so you're earning money back on each purpose. The Macy's AmEx, however, does let you earn 1.5% - 3% depending on your spending level (the latter is reserved for Premier Elite spenders). Once you've earned enough from your AmEx, Macy's will issue you a Rewards Certificate which is basically a gift card towards a future purchase. While these rewards aren't as flexible as pure cash-back, we think it's worth considering the AmEx Macy's card especially if you're a Premier Elite spender and can earn that 3% back on each dollar.
What other cards are better?
As mentioned above, if you can't qualify for the AmEx card that probably means your credit isn't excellent. At that point you have a couple of options which will come down to personal preference You can:
A) sign-up for the regular Macy's card option which will let you receive benefits like special coupons and surprise offers but won't let you earn money back on each dollar you spend
B) sign-up for a less credit stringent cash-back card, like the Capital One® QuickilverOne®, and earn 1.5% cash back but not receive the occasional Macy's deal
Discover it® Cash Back
Even if you do qualify for the Macy's Amex and receive cash back on purchases, you'd do better at Macy's using the Discover it® Cash Back credit card. Discover it® Cash Back cardholders have access to Discover Deals where you can earn 5% or more in cash back at Macy's and a number of other stores (keep in mind that these deals vary, and may not always be available). Periodically the cash back rates for Macy's are as high as 10%, way better than what you can get on even the Macy's Amex. With the Discover it® Cash Back card you'll be have to make your purchases online, but nothing prevents you from finding something in the store and then buying it from the comfort of your own home. The extra savings are definitely worth it.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card
Our two cents? Because many of the deals and coupons Macy's distributes to its cardholders are available to non-cardholders as well there's much less value in carrying just a basic Macy's card. We would opt for the QuicksilverOne® or regular Capital One® Quicksilver® Card card (good credit) and use the readily available Macy's coupons found online or even in the in-store circulars.
Getting Into the Details
Let's take a deeper look at your two Macy's card options as well as one additional perk and one item to be cautious of:
The majority of Macy's credit cards that are issued are of the non-AmEx variety. Due to the fact that even those with poor credit can usually get approved for Macy's entry-level card, it has become the more widely issued of the two. If you opt to use this particular card instead of the AmEx you'll want to know that you can be approved for one of several different tiers that are based on your spending level. Until recently these tiers were called Red, Gold, Platinum, and Elite. But some recent rebranding on Macy's part gave the loyalty program an overhaul and changed much of their old terminology. Here are the 3 new levels:
|Annual Spending Limits|
Preferred (Red Card)
Elite (Gold Card)
Premier Elite (Platinum Card)
These cards are all fairly similar minus their different names. The only real difference between the three is how often you receive Macy's Star Pass Mailings (coupons and deals on products). The Preferred receives mailings 3x per year, the Elite 6x per year, and the Premier Elite 12x per year. Also, Premier Elite members get exclusive shipping offers from Macys.com and a priority 800 number. The one reason you may opt for this card over the AmEx is that you're still likely to be accepted even if your credit is only average or below-average.
Macy's American Express Card
Unlike the regular Macy's credit card, if you sign up for their AmEx counterpart you are eligible for the Star Rewards program. This is essentially a gift certificate program where Macy's will mail you gift cards that can be used on future purchases at their store. This program allows cardholders to earn rewards on purchases that they are making. If you spend between 500-999 a year at Macy's you'll get 1.5% on those purchases in addition to 1% outside of Macy's.
If your spending exceeds $1,000 per year at Macy's, you become eligible for the Macy's Preferred American Express card and you'll earn 3% in-store and 1% on out of store purchaes. Preferred cardholders also get exclusive travel offers on both flights, hotels, and car rentals at various destinations, as they are part of the American Express network.
If you opt for this card over the standard issue Macy's Card, you should keep one thing in mind. The biggest difference between the two cards, the Star Rewards Certificates, only start to accumulate if you're spending in excess of $500 per year at Macy's. If this doesn't describe your personal spending habits at the retailer, you may want to opt for the basic Macy's card and apply for an AmEx card that offers you better deals where you're spending money.
Other Perks to Keep In Mind
Both cards will give you the convenience of managing and paying your bills right on the Macy's website. You also don't need to worry about those elusive receipts that always seem to disappear when you're considering a return. Because Macy's is able to track all your purchases when you use your card, you can exchange items in-store without your receipt.
Privacy Concerns with Macy's Cards
The bank that issues your Macy's Credit Card is called Department Stores National Bank (DSNB). Like many similar banks in their position, DSNB has you sign-off (whether you read the terms or not) on their right to share your purchase information quite freely. Not only does Macy use it internally to target relevant deals and discounts towards you, DSNB sells your information to "marketing partners" and "affiliates". While most consumers NEVER read through this fine-print, there's actually an easy way to limit, but not eliminate, how much of your information gets shared. DSNB has setup a telephone number (1-888-830-3087) that you can call and request for them to limit their sharing.