Department store cards are a dime a dozen, with a few worthy ones that stand out. We place the Saks Fifth Avenue / SaksFirst credit card into the latter category. For high spenders the potential rewards for the card surpass just about anything we've seen so far.
Features we like best about the Saks Credit Card:
- Fantastic rewards rate for high spenders (Up to 18%!)
- Access to pre-sales
- MasterCard variant provides decent rewards on a broad range of spending categories
Things we wish the Saks Credit Card did better:
- The card has little value to those who spend less than $5,000 annually
- Like most department store credit cards, it has a high APR of 23.99%
Saks offers two credit card options: a SaksFirst store card, and a SaksFirst MasterCard. Both cards have the same rewards rates on in-store purchases. The only thing that separates the two is the fact that you can use your SaksFirst MasterCard on everyday spending, not just at Saks. Similarly to the Barneys Credit Card, the financial benefit of having this store card doesn’t really kick in until you start to spend upwards of $5,000 annually. If you are a Saks customer who spends less than this amount, there are still other benefits you can take advantage of with this card at no cost.
The best non-spending feature of the Saks Credit Card is that it gives you access to private and pre-sale items first that are exclusive to their store. This is an important benefit of the card for people looking for something specific that can’t be found elsewhere, and gives the cardholder a chance to purchase first before the item is released to the general public and sold out.
If a consumer chooses the Saks MasterCard, the card is then part of the MasterCard network and you can also earn points on spending outside of Saks. Both versions of this card come with no annual fee, and therefore, if available, we recommend applying for the MasterCard variants of this credit card.
You will earn different amounts of points per $1, depending on your spending level. The point/spending breakdown can be found below, followed by the corresponding rewards rate. You can earn these points at Saks Outlet locations as well (namely from the Saks OFF 5th outlet stores).
|Up to $5,000||Premier||2||2%|
|Up to $10,000||Elite||4||4%|
|Up to $25,000||Platinum||6||6%|
|More than $25,000||Diamond||6||6%|
The best value starts after you enter the Elite tier, after spending at least $5,000. At this point you will start earning rewards rates of 4%+. At this spending level the Saks Credit Card begins outperforming some of the top cash back credit cards. The graph below plots the credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue against such one of the best flat-rate cash back credit cards, the Citi Double Cash.
In addition to the above perks, the SaksFirst MasterCard (which you can use any place MasterCard is accepted) has a few additional ways to earn SaksFirst Points. With the Saks MasterCard you get 3 points for every $1 spent at spas, 2 points per $1 on Dining, Grocery, and Gasoline purchases, and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
As a Saks cardholder you are eligible to schedule Triple Point days, during which you may earn 3x as many points on store purchases, as you normally would. Saks does not have an official set number of times that they offer triple points each year. When we spoke with a representative from Saks, they were unable to give the exact number of Triple Point days available, and said that it varies year-to-year. One thing which they were able to confirm, is that Saks Store Card and MasterCard holders get the same amount of triple point days.
SaksFirst points can only be redeemed towards SaksFirst gift cards. Shoppers will need 4,000 points to receive a $40 gift card. This puts the value of a SaksFirst point at $0.01 ($40 / 4,000). Depending on how you use your Saks credit card, your rewards rate can vary between 1% and 18%! Though to start receiving 18% back on purchases, you need to be a Platinum tiered member, making purchases on Triple Point Days.
You must spend a minimum of $1,250 at Saks per year, for this card to give you any value. This is because you need a minimum of 2,500 SaksFirst points to receive the lowest valued gift card of $25. However, if your spending is anywhere close to this level and you are worried that you may not meet the spending minimum, this card was not designed for you in the first place. As noted, to get the best value out of the card, you must spend at least $5,000 annually.
All cardholders should look out for Saks’ Triple Point Days, when they can earn more rewards. Every so often the retailer will hold special events during which they will give out more rewards points than usual. For example, spending $2,000 on Women’s designer purchases on the March 26th promotion earned customers 20,000 bonus Saks Points, worth $200 in gift cards! On top of the bonus points, you will earn triple the usual points you’d receive from the purchase. Meaning if you are a Premier Tier member, you would receive 6 points per $1 instead of the usual 2. Note that Triple Point Days apply only to purchases made at Saks. You will not receive any more points for using your Saks Mastercard at other stores that day.
The first day your Saks credit card account is opened you receive a 10% discount on select purchases. This promotion does not include some designer collections, leased departments, some cosmetics, restaurants or purchases of gift cards.
Saks cardholders also receive free shipping for online and in-store purchases. If an item is not in stock in a physical store, they order it from either their warehouse or another store and have it shipped to you for no extra charge. Not all department stores offer this, and will charge you for shipping if the item is being sent from another location, so this is a great benefit!
The two other Saks card options are the SaksFirst World Elite MasterCard and the SaksFirst Platinum MasterCard. As mentioned above, the Elite World earns you 3 points per dollar on purchases at salons and spas, 2 points per dollar on dining, gas and groceries, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. In addition to the Saks Credit Card benefits, this card also comes with a few more. You get a $25 welcome gift card right off the bat for signing up, trip cancellation insurance (they will reimburse up to $1,500 if a trip has to be cancelled because of injury, death or illness of the cardholder or immediate family member), purchase assurance (if an item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, they will replace it for you up to $1000), extended warranties (they will double the current warranty on an item, but only up to one year) and price protection (if an item goes on sale within 60 days from the date of purchase, they will refund you for the difference of up to $250).
The SaksFirst Platinum MasterCard comes with the same trip cancellation, price protection and extended warranty benefits, but is a pretty standard MasterCard otherwise, down to the $25 Saks gift card for signing up.
Based on the above benefits, if you can qualify for either the SaksFirst World Elite or Platinum MasterCard, there is no reason to get just the basic store non-MasterCard version of this card.
If you spend over $5,000 at Saks annually, few other credit cards can match the benefits and rewards you will get from using this card. If you are a low spender, some rotating category cash back cards can get you 5% back on your purchases at Saks, for up to $1,500 in spending. If you go down this route you will, however, be restricted to the discounts during certain times in the year. Credit cards such as the Discover it and the Chase Freedom fall into this category. Otherwise, the Triple Point Days and promotional bonus offers, on top of exclusive membership benefits make this a must have card for SaksFirst shoppers.
Note that if you are someone who needs to carry a credit card balance, avoid departament store cards altogether. They have terribly high interest rates, and most other credit cards will offer you a better deal in terms of APR.
All in all, we recommend that it is much more beneficial in terms of rewards if a consumer chooses either of the SaksFirst MasterCards versus the regular store version, since rewards points can be earned on everyday spending. The Saks card outperforms a good cash back card faster than some other department store cards do. It also has no annual fee, which is great. We think this card is worth it for someone who shops regularly at Saks and spends over $5,000 annually in the store. If a consumer is spending under this amount, it is better to use a cash back rewards card with a greater rewards rate instead to get the most out of a spending reward.
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