About Macy’s Credit Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Nov 28, 2017

The Macy’s Credit Card is legendary for its occasional big discounts and holiday savings.

Also legendary is the store’s attempts to get you to sign up for their credit card; I know from personal experience. About a decade ago, I signed up for a Macy’s credit card at the register because I wanted to save money on some clothes I was buying.

At that time, I was a store credit card newbie and wasn’t really aware of all the pros and cons of owning a store card. What I did know, though, is that I wanted to save.

This mentality isn’t unique; it’s really easy to give into the draw of a store credit card because the deals are so great and it’s so easy to get them.

But HighYa isn’t in the business of helping consumers think short-term. When it comes to financial products – even something as small as a store credit card – long-term thinking is critical to making decisions that strengthen your financial life.

To help you see that long-term perspective, we’re going to analyze the Macy’s store credit card according to four different factors:

  • Short-term rewards
  • Long-term rewards
  • Rates and fees
  • Public opinion

What you’ll realize as you read through what we explain is that every credit card, store or otherwise, has a specific set of pros and cons you have to work through. We’ll cover those pros and cons at the end of this review.

Pro tip: Macy’s offers an American Express card you can use anywhere AmEx is accepted as well as a store credit card that can only be used at Macy’s stores and Macys.com. We’re reviewing the Macy’s-only card.

The Macy’s Credit Card’s Short-Term Rewards

Like the Kohl’s Charge card, this card’s rewards focus on discounts – ones that you get when you first use your card and ones you get over the course of owning the card.

20% Off Initial Purchases

Most store credit cards like to offer you a dazzling discount or percentage-off for purchases you make the day you get the card. It’s sort of like they’re using the discount to get you in the habit of spending and enjoying money saved.

At the time of publishing, Macy’s was offering you a 20% discount on the purchases you make the day you’re approved and the day after. Basically, it’s a two-day window to score big savings.

And like the Kohl’s Charge, this discount has a lot of strings attached to it.

First, you can only take advantage of this deal if you’re instantly approved. Should Macy’s tell you they need more time to make the decision, you won’t get the 20% off.

Second, certain purchases won’t get the discount:

  • Services
  • Select licensed departments
  • Gift cards
  • Restaurants
  • Gourmet food and wine

The final couple of rules are probably the trickiest. First, you’re allowed up to $100 in discounts, which means the max you can spend with this discount is $500.

Second, the discount is applied to your credit card statement; it’s not a coupon you can apply to your purchase. What makes that tricky is that you won’t know for sure how big your discount will be until after you’ve made the purchases.

If you’re skeptical and want to make sure you get the discounts you’re supposed to, you could hold on to your purchases and not use them until after you see the discount appear on your statement.

The Macy’s Credit Card’s Long-Term Benefits

The 20% off discount we talked about in the previous section is a short-term reward in the sense that you have two days including the day you get the card to use it.

Once that discount is gone, you have a series of other discounts you get with the card that stick with you the entire time you own it, assuming Macy’s doesn’t change the terms of the card.

5% Rewards on All Purchases

One of the perks that you’ll read about on the Macy’s credit card website is 5% rewards on your purchases. This is equivalent to the rewards/discount rates you get on the Lowe’s Advantage and Target REDcard store credit cards.

There’s a big “however” to this discount, though. You see, Macy’s only gives this benefit to their Platinum members. What’s a Platinum member? Well, Macy’s runs a loyalty program called “Star Rewards” that has three levels; each level has better rewards than the last:

  • Platinum: Spend $1,200 or more per year
  • Gold: Spend $500-$1,199 per year
  • Silver: Spend up to $499

According to Macy’s loyalty program charts, you can only earn 5% if you spend at least $1,200 per year on your card. Once you hit that spending amount, then you’ll get Platinum status for the remainder of the calendar year and the following year.

At this point, it’s important to ask yourself how much you would normally spend at Macy’s every year. Is it $1,200?

Then the card might be good for you. But, remember, in order to take full advantage of the discount you’d have to continue to spend money on the card the year you earn the 5% and the following year.

Free Shipping

Another perk that the Macy’s store card page touts is free shipping. However, as we found out in our research, only Gold and Platinum members get free shipping.

So, here’s the deal: If you think you can spend $500 on whatever it is you need, then you’re in good shape for free shipping. If you can spend that $500 in the first two days, then you’ll also get $100 off because of the 20% discount we talked about.

StarPass Discounts

Cardholders of all levels will get Macy’s StarPasses throughout the year. These passes are usually percent-off type discounts that you can add to purchases.

You can keep track of your purchases through Macy’s “My Wallet,” your online Macy’s account that contains all your eligible StarPass discounts.

We went to Macy’s-specific savings site Red Star Coupons to get a sense of what these discounts would look like. A My Wallet screenshot showed three different types of StarPass discounts:

  • $20 off $50 or more
  • $10 off $30 or more
  • Extra 20% off site sale
  • Extra 25% off site sale

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list but an example of the types of savings you can expect from the StarPass program.

Plenti Points

All Macy’s cardholders earn Plenti points on all their purchases at a rate of 1 point per dollar. These points can be redeemed to save money on purchases at Macy’s and the following locations:

  • Rite Aid
  • Mobil
  • Bi-Lo
  • Harveys
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Chili’s
  • Expedia
  • Hulu
  • Enterprise

The Macy’s Store Credit Card Rates and Fees

Because this is a store card – you can’t use it outside of Macy’s – it has a very short list of fees. That mainly has to do with the fact that you can’t make balance transfers or cash advances with the card, nor can you use it overseas.

The card’s APR is 23.90%, which is just about average in the store card world. This is the interest rate you’ll get if you have excellent credit (750+) or bad credit (650).

Just to give you an idea of how much that could cost you if you carry a balance on the card, we did some quick math. Having an average monthly balance of $500 for 12 months will result in $119.95 in interest payments.

If you make a late or returned payment, the first one is $27. If you have another late payment within six months, the fee goes up to $38.

Public Opinion About the Macy’s Credit Card

Expert reviews of the Macy’s card are pretty positive, which we find a little confusing. If you don’t spend enough money to get Gold or Platinum status, then your rewards are really sparse. You have to keep this in mind when you go to the card’s website and see the 5% rewards and free shipping perks – those are reserved for people who spend at least $1,200 a year on their Macy’s card.

Customer reviews of the card are largely negative and focus on the charges they received for late payments. While getting hit with fees because you forgot a payment isn’t fun, those consequences are listed pretty prominently in the card’s terms and conditions.

So, keep all this in mind when as you ponder your decision of whether or not the Macy’s card is right for you.

Pros and Cons of the Macy’s Credit Card

We believe the card’s strength is that you have the potential to earn 5% back on your Macy’s card and score some pretty good StarPass discounts over the course of the year.

However, that strength is also the card’s weakness because only big spenders get the best rewards. If you’re someone who likes to spend around $500 a year at Macy’s then you’ll get free shipping and StarPass discounts, but that’s about it.

Based on everything we’ve learned about this card, we believe the best fit for it is someone who spends at least $1,200 a year at Macy’s (Platinum status) and has the discipline to pay off their card every month. Otherwise, you’ll be using a card that doesn’t have many benefits for Silver members and you’ll probably pay more in interest than you’ll save with your StarPass discounts.

If you’re someone who likes to comparison shop, then take a look at our list of the 10 best store credit cards. You can get a feel for how the Macy’s card stacks up against the competition’s rewards rates, fees and APR’s. This article, along with one we wrote for savings site Valpak, will help you understand if store credit cards are worth it.

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