About Kohl’s Charge Card
Just about any time of the year, you can walk into a Kohl’s and find massive discounts on all kinds of things – clothes mostly – and, when you get to the register, you can count on the cashier pitching you the Kohl’s Charge Card.
The Charge card is Kohl’s store credit card and is, believe it or not, a super popular card since Kohl’s is one of the largest retailers in the United States.
We’ll admit that it’s easy to be tempted with signing up for a store card, especially if you’re rolling into the checkout lane with school clothes piled high in your shopping cart. Why not take a stab at getting 25% off that purchase?
That’s what Kohl’s is hoping you’ll think – big discounts are a great way to get consumers to say “Yes” to whatever it is you’re pitching.
However, smart consumers will approach the situation with a good amount of skepticism. Instead of accepting the offer without thought, they ask questions – even if it means holding up the line for a few seconds.
What’s the card’s APR? How often can I get discounts once the intro offers are gone? What fees and interest rates do I need to worry about?
Our review of the Kohl’s charge card is going to answer each one of these questions. We’re going to dig into the card’s rewards, its benefits and its rates and fees to give you an objective presentation of how the card can be an asset.
We’re also going to review the feedback the card is getting from other sites like HighYa and from consumers who’ve actually used the card.
The Kohl’s Charge Card’s Rewards
The Kohl’s credit card is all about percentage discounts; those are the rewards you can expect. In this sense, the card is very similar to the Target REDcard, which provides a 5% discount on all purchases.
Other store credit cards like the one from Walmart give you a percentage of cash back on purchases you make at Walmart’s website, Walmart/Murphy USA gas stations and Walmart brick-and-mortar store purchases.
While it’s easy to estimate how much cash back you can earn on cards with specific rates for specific purchases, it’s much harder to do that when a store is sending you discount coupons.
That being said, let’s jump into which discounts you get (and don’t get) with your Koh’s Charge Card.
25% off Your First Purchase
Whenever you sign up for the Kohl’s card, you’re going to get one big-time up-front offer: 25% off your first purchase.
For those of you who do the majority of your seasonal clothes shopping or your back-to-school purchases at Kohl’s, this discount could actually be a big deal if you’re spending hundreds of dollars. A $300 purchase would earn you a $75 discount.
This discount comes with some very specific exceptions that could be super frustrating for you if you’re not aware of them before you go on your shopping spree. First, you can’t combine that 25% off with other percent-off promotions.
Second, the discount won’t apply to certain brands and categories of merchandise. The list is really extensive. Here’s what’s excluded from the discount:
- High-end cosmetics and skincare products
- Premium electronics (Acer, Apple, Asus, AT&T, Fitbit, Garmin, JBL, Lexar, Linksys, Panasonic, others)
- Premium sunglasses (Armani Exchange, Arnette, DKNY, Ray-Ban, others)
- Sporting goods
- Sports team merchandise
- Electrics (Nikon, Nespresso, Breville, others)
- American Girl
- Under Armor
This list is perhaps the biggest “gotcha” type of fine print. Most of the major brands in the store are off-limits when it comes to the 25% discount. We didn’t list all of the exclusions in this review; it’s a long list. If you want to read the full list, head to the Kohl’s website.
You can use this discount in a Kohl’s store on the Kohl’s website.
15% off When Your Card Comes in the Mail
The second discount you get with your Kohl’s Charge is a 15% off coupon that accompanies your card when it arrives in the mail.
The good news about this discount is that it doesn’t have the same restrictions as the 25% off discount we mentioned in the previous section.
The Kohl’s Charge Card’s Benefits
As we mentioned early on, this card offers multiple discounts as its rewards structure. So, once the pair of up-front rewards is used up, you’ll get yearly discount coupons sent to you that you can use for in-store or online purchases.
At the time of publishing, Kohl’s Charge card customers received 12 special offers every year. We did some research to find out what those offers entailed and found the following via store discount experts Hip2Save:
- Cardholders usually get 30% off coupons once a month
- Those offers come with free shipping
If you have a monthly need to buy new clothes, then these discounts could provide serious savings.
Most Valuable Customer Program
The other main benefit of the Kohl’s Charge is that you’ll be enrolled in the store’s Most Valued Customer program if you spend at least $600 on your card in a year.
If you can hit that spending requirement, then the 12 special offers you get per year will be bumped up to 18.
The frequency of these rebates is appealing, but it’s important to ask yourself if you’d actually use those initial 12 offers and the six extra from spending $600.
Consider this: In order to take full advantage of the MVC program, you’d have to shop for clothes, on average, more than once a month.
For some consumers, this isn’t a problem; for others, it is. From a general perspective, Kohl’s is offering you rewards kind of in the same way someone would dangle a carrot in front of a horse. They tempt you to spend more by setting a $600 spending requirement in order to get an extra six discounts you may or may not use.
Don’t look at the Kohl’s card from the perspective of what you could earn in the way of discounts; think about it in terms of how much money you actually spend on clothes each month and if you’d need to make monthly trips to Kohl’s.
This type of self-examination is something we recommend for every credit card, not just the Kohl’s card.
Kohl’s has a rewards system in which you earn one point for every dollar you spend. One hundred points are worth $5, a 5% rewards rate on par with what you get with the Target REDcard.
This isn’t a benefit of being a Kohl’s Charge customer because it’s available to everyone. It is, however, a part of weighing the benefits of getting a Kohl’s card; it adds that per-purchase rewards program that’s missing from the card itself.
The Kohl’s Charge Card’s Rates and Fees
This card has one of the highest APRs you’ll find among store and non-store credit cards: 24.99%. If you make a late payment or have a returned payment, that APR will jump up to the penalty rate of 27.99% and will stay that way as long as you own the card.
The way around this is to pay your card’s balance every month. No interest will kick in and you won’t have to worry about penalty APR’s.
If you make a late payment or have a returned payment, you’ll also be charged up to a $37 fee.
Public Opinion About the Kohl’s Charge Card
Much of what we read about this card from people who actually used it was either very negative or positive. Many customers were complaining about confusion about payments that resulted in derogatory remarks on their credit reports.
Based on these various reviews, we’ve concluded that much of the complaining was the result of consumers paying late; the derogatory remarks were self-inflicted.
If you want to have a positive experience with this card, pay the balance off every month and do it on time. Not only will you avoid late payments, but you can save tons of money on interest payments that would apply to your account if you carried a balance.
Pros of the Kohl’s Charge Card
This card’s strength is the series of discounts you get as a cardholder, as well as the ability to get six more discounts a year when you become a Most Valued Customer member.
We also think the Yes2You program is a huge benefit to cardholders and acts as the rewards rate the card is missing.
Cons of the Kohl’s Charge Card
The Kohl’s card has a couple of noticeable flaws. First, unlike the Walmart and Target credit cards, this card has a penalty APR that kicks in forever after your first late payment.
Second, the card’s purchase APR is the highest single-APR rate we’ve seen among store cards and regular credit cards with one APR.
If you plan to carry a balance on your Kohl’s card, then you’ll be paying a significant amount of money in interest over the course of one year.
Who This Card Is Good For
We believe that the best fit for this card is someone who spends a significant amount of money on clothing each month and can do enough shopping to take advantage of all 18 discounts that Most Valued Customer members earn.
For example, if your normal yearly Kohl’s budget is $1,500 and assuming your MVC discounts are 30% off, you could save $450 a year.