JCPenney credit card review

JCPenney credit card review

Published: November 15, 2017
Ratings Policy
Retail Rating:
1.3 rating
1.3 rating
1.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.4
Rewards Flexibility: 2.5
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

With paltry rewards and a high APR, the JCPenney card is a poor choice for most cardholders, save for dedicated fans of the store who may appreciate the card’s special savings opportunities.

Rewards Rate

0.5 points per dollar on qualifying JCPenney purchases (plus an additional 0.5 point as a JCPenney loyalty program member)

Sign-up Offer

  • Save 20% off select apparel, shoes, accessories, fine jewelry, salon products and home goods, plus custom blinds and shades, furniture and mattresses in US only
  • Save 5% off Modern Bride Design Your Dream Ring, plus major appliances in US only
  • Offers apply to first in-store or online purchase on the day of account opening

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Savings ($1,325 monthly spend)
$21

APR
26.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption

Pros

  • Rewards certificates automatically issued in $10 increments for every 200 points you earn
  • Certificates can be combined with other discounts or coupons
  • Points don’t expire as long as you earn points every 12 months

Cons

  • Certificates expire quickly (certificates valid for a minimum of 45 days)
  • Earn a maximum of 2,000 points on a single purchase
  • Redeem no more than 10 certificates ($100) per purchase (9 if you use a coupon code at jcp.com)
  • Certificates only redeemable at JCPenney stores and jcp.com

Other Notable Features: Special financing deals (beware deferred interest); invitation-only shopping events, including more than 150 cardmember savings days; exclusive coupons; birthday gift; bonus rewards events; earn elite status when you spend $500+ annually (coupon passbook, pick your own sale day, free shipping and more)

Despite a less-than-impressive rewards program, regular JCPenney customers can still save a considerable amount of money with the JCPenney credit card. For those individuals, features such as no annual fee, exclusive coupons and dedicated cardmember savings days outweigh the card’s limits on redemption and extremely high APR of 26.99 percent.

That said, you’ll need to be fairly strategic in your card usage to maximize such perks and should avoid carrying a balance from month to month. Otherwise, you run the risk of interest charges negating your rewards and benefits.

Weak rewards

The card comes with a bare-bones earnings scheme that was incrementally improved when the company revamped its rewards program in July 2017. Cardholders still earn a mere half a point per dollar on qualifying purchases. (The card’s website touts the rate as one point per dollar, but that includes the half a point that you already earn as a JCPenney loyalty program member.) Also, because the JCPenney credit card is a closed-loop card (meaning it can only be used at JCPenney stores, at jcp.com and at Sephora stores located inside JCPenney), you have no chance of earning points anywhere else, unlike similar cards from the Gap and Macy’s.

On the plus side, there is no longer a limit on the number of points you can amass in any given month. Further, instead of expiring at the end of each month, any unused points are now automatically rolled over.

Special savings for cardmembers

The JCPenney credit card’s real savings opportunities come in the form of exclusive coupons, special pricing on select merchandise and invitation-only shopping events, including more than 150 cardmember savings days. Spend $500 or more in a calendar year and you’ll achieve Gold status, entitling you to an additional coupon passbook, pick your own sale day and free shipping on online purchases.

Meanwhile, those who spend $1,000 annually will be granted Platinum status, which bestows you with Sephora bonus points days and 30 percent sale days in addition to regular cardmember benefits.

Multiple sign-up offers

The JCPenney credit card’s current sign-up offer gives new cardholders 20 percent off their first in-store or online purchase on the day of account opening, though the standard offer is 15 percent. (Check the JCPenney online credit center to see the prevailing offer before applying.) The discount applies to select apparel, shoes, accessories, fine jewelry, salon products and home goods, plus custom blinds and shades, furniture and mattresses for U.S. cardholders only. You’ll also enjoy 5 percent off custom ring designs via the department store’s Modern Bride Signature Collection.

If you’re getting ready to propose or are in the market for a new mattress or dining room set, you could save a significant amount of money by delaying your purchase until you’re approved for the card.

Limited redemption options

For every 200 points you earn, you’re automatically issued a $10 rewards certificate, which can be combined with other discounts and coupons. However, that doesn’t mean the JCPenney credit card is without its share of restrictions. For example, you can only earn up to 2,000 points in a single purchase regardless of how much you spend. In addition, cardholders can redeem no more than 10 rewards certificates at a time. If you use a coupon code at jcp.com, the limit drops to nine certificates.

It’s also worth mentioning there’s no standard redemption window for rewards certificates. While all certificates are good for at least 45 days, the validity period for bonus rewards is shorter than that for earned rewards. Take note of the expiration dates printed on each rewards certificate to ensure you cash them in before they lapse.

Minimal perks

Like most store-only cards, the JCPenney credit card offers little in the way of cardholder protections and benefits, although cardholders do have access to special financing on furniture, window treatments, in-home custom decorating, mattresses, fine jewelry and watch purchases.

If you decide to use promotional financing, be sure to read the fine print: With deferred-interest deals, interest piles up during the promotional period and is imposed retroactively (i.e., from the date of purchase) if the balance isn’t paid in full by the end of the term. This differs from true no-interest financing, in which no interest accrues during the promotional period so long as you make minimum monthly payments.

You could end up facing hundreds of dollars in interest charges depending on the total purchase amount, so try not to finance more than what you can afford to pay off before deferred interest kicks in.

Why get the JCPenney card?

  • You’re already a JCPenney Rewards member.
  • You prefer merchandise discounts over other types of rewards.
  • You shop at JCPenney frequently enough to use rewards certificates before they expire.
  • You want the option to redeem points both in-store and online.
  • You don’t plan to carry a balance from month to month. 

How to use the JCPenney card:

  • Take advantage of the card’s sign-up offers by making an in-store or online purchase on the day you open your account.
  • Keep an eye on your rewards certificates’ expiration dates.
  • Use the card at least once every 12 months to avoid losing earned points.
  • Register your email address to conveniently receive rewards certificates via email.
  • Pay your balance in full every month to avoid paying above-average interest.

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