About My BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard
Warehouse-club shoppers love a good bargain and the My BJ’s Perks MasterCard promises that with a series of rewards that will save you money and give you free cash.
You may have seen ads for the BJ’s Perks Card in your local BJ’s warehouse store. The cards are usually featured prominently on the wall behind the customer service desk.
It’s hard to pass up on the deal, especially when you find out that you get three different types of cash-back bonuses as well as a discount on every gallon of gas you buy.
Level heads are always best when it comes to financial decisions, even if a warehouse club credit card is the decision you’re trying to make.
Keeping a clear mind is even more important with My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard because it’s actually one of two cards the warehouse club offers. You see, the Perks Elite is available to BJ’s Perks Rewards members, whose yearly membership fees are $100.
The BJ’s Perks Plus Mastercard is the other option and is available to customers who have an Inner Circle membership ($50/year). The Perks Plus card has a smaller rewards rate on one of the cash-back tiers.
In an effort to help you understand if the Perks Elite card is the right fit for you, we’ve read through the cards rewards program, combed through the fine print and looked to other experts and consumers to get a solid picture of what this card can and can’t offer.
The information we learned will be organized in the following manner: benefits, rates and fees, and the insights of other experts as well as consumers.
The Benefits of the My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard
Much of what the Perks Elite MasterCard offers you is related to its cash-rewards program. These programs are pretty common in the credit card world.
Basically, a credit card company will give you a certain percentage cash back on various types of purchases you make. Some cards have a flat rate for all purchases, like the Citi Double Cash and the Quicksilver from Capital One.
Other cards have several different categories of purchases that will earn you rewards: gas, groceries, and travel are common bonus categories.
These bonuses are represented by percentages. For example, the My BJ’s Perks Elite card gives you 5% cash back on purchases made at BJ’s warehouse clubs, 2% on dining and travel purchases and 1% on everything else.
5% Cash Back on BJ’s Purchases
What’s really interesting about this card is that it gives you the most rewards for shopping at BJ’s., whereas the Sam’s Club MasterCard gives you 5% rewards for gas purchases.
In a certain sense, it doesn’t really matter where you get the 5%; it’s how much you’re spending in the 5% category that matters.
We talked with Michael Clayman, publisher of Warehouse Club Focus and an expert in warehouse club data. His site, clubintelligencecenter.com, is one of the few sites to find solid data on warehouse club members.
According to Clayman, BJ’s had 214 U.S. locations in 2016 and an estimated 11.1 million cardholders who spent an average of $1,275.
Clayman stressed that those numbers are estimates and that hard numbers are difficult to come by because BJ’s is a private company who guards their data.
With that in mind, we estimate that you can get around $64 in cash-back rewards from your club purchases.
2% Cash Back on Dining and Gas
The second level of cash rewards you get with the BJ’s Perks Elite card is 2% on dining and gas purchases.
“Gas” is a tricky one because gas purchases at warehouse clubs and superstores don’t accumulate rewards. That even includes BJ’s gas stations, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
“Dining” includes restaurants and fast food as well as some cafes and basically any business who has a dining merchant code, which is a code companies use to identify themselves to credit card networks.
BJ’s doesn’t have control over how a business codes themselves, so keep that in mind. There may be some purchases you make that you think are getting rewards and don’t, or vice versa.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent around $5,000 on gas and eating out in 2015.
If you spend that much in a year on your BJ’s Perks Elite card, you’ll earn $100 cash back.
1% on Everything Else
Any purchases that don’t fall into the previous three categories we mentioned (BJ’s, gas, dining) will earn you 1% cash rewards.
We believe, based on the BLS stats we mentioned earlier, that your family can spend at least $25,000 per year on your credit card.
If our estimates about BJ’s and gas/dining spending are accurate, about $6,275 of your yearly purchases will get 5% or 3%, which leaves you with $18,275 of 1% spending.
The rewards total for that spend is $182 and, when you add that to our estimates for the previous two rewards levels, ($64 & $100) you get a grand total of $346 in cash rewards.
$0.10 Discount on Every Gallon of Gas
Remember how we said that you don’t get the 5% bonus when you buy your gas at BJ’s? Well, that’s because the warehouse club will give Perks Elite MasterCard customers $0.10 off each gallon of gas they buy.
So, let’s say you fill up your vehicle’s 15-gallon tank once a week for a year – that’s 780 gallons of gas, or $78 in savings, which is more than you’d get if you received 2% rewards at non-BJ’s gas stations.
If you’ve got a 12-gallon tank and filled up once a week for a year, expect to use 624 gallons a year and earn $62.40 in cash back.
We’ll split the difference between the two and say you can expect to earn, on average, $70 in gas discounts each year.
$25 Membership Discount
If you sign up to have your membership fee paid automatically from your Perks Elite card, then you’ll get a $25 discount, making your membership fee $75 instead of $100.
How Do You Get Your Cash Rewards?
Unlike Sam’s Club, who gives you a check every February that you have to cash at Sam’s Club but can use for whatever you want, BJ’s keeps a running balance of rewards and allows you to use those rewards in $20 increments at their registers.
So, while you’re limited to using your rewards at BJ’s, it’s convenient that you can choose to use them at the register without having to go online and log into an account to apply your rewards balance.
Watch Out for the Exceptions
During our research, we noticed a few exceptions in the rewards program we think you should know.
First, your rewards expire six months after you get them. So, you have a six-month deadline from the day rewards shows up in your account to use them, or they’ll disappear.
Second, the following BJ’s purchases and charges won’t get rewards, not even 1%:
- Sales tax
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco-related products
Third, you won’t accumulate rewards if you are more than 60 days past due on your account or your balance is higher than your credit limit.
The My BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard’s Rates and Fees
When you get approved for your Perks Elite card from BJ’s, the bank issuing the card, Comenity Bank, will inform you of your interest rates and fees.
One of the drawbacks of this card is that BJ’s and Comenity don’t publish the Perks Elite’s interest rates and fees. We had to call their customer service line to get the information, and even then were told that there is no set APR because the interest rate depends on the individual.
When we asked for a range of APR’s we were told the same thing: “I can’t give you a range because it all depends on the person.”
So, we went hunting for possible APRs and found some on several different sites. We cannot confirm that these rates are what you’ll get, as BJ’s was not able to confirm them:
- APR: 15.74-25.74%
- Late fee: $27-37
- Returned payment fee: $30-38
- Cash advance fee: 3%
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
As for balance transfers, we were told that BJ’s runs occasional balance transfer offers in which you won’t pay interest for a certain amount of time. You also won’t pay a balance transfer fee.
A recent BJ’s balance-transfer offer, the representative told us, charged 19.49% on any remaining balances once the 0% period was over.
It’s hard to say when you’ll get these offers, but, according to BJ’s, they had two separate offers within a few months of this review being published. So, to us, it sounds like you can expect at least a couple of balance transfer offers per year.
However, we can’t say for certain what your 0% payment period will be, so make sure you know what it is before you sign up for the offer.
Expert and Consumer Reviews of the My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard
The BJ’s Perks Elite card gets slightly above-average reviews from expert sites aside from HighYa, with several pointing out the gas perks, reduced membership fee for automatic renewals and the rewards rate on BJ’s purchases.
The most recent consumer reviews we found were largely negative, with several people complaining about unexpected automatic membership renewals showing up on their card.
Based on this feedback, we suggest calling the customer service line (1-844-271-2535) to clarify if your membership fee will automatically be charged to your My BJ’s Perks Elite card.
Pros of the My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard
We believe the strongest perk to this card is the 5% cash back you get on BJ’s purchases and the $0.10-per-gallon discount you get on BJ’s gas.
Cons of the My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard
The downside to this card is that you can only use your rewards at BJ’s locations, which is a somewhat restrictive policy. We also don’t like that the company doesn’t publish APR’s on their credit card page.
The Final Word: A Good Rewards Program … If You Can Use It
Based on our research, we believe that the 5% bonus on BJ’s purchases will earn you about $64 a year in rewards. That’s a relatively modest amount and, when you couple that with the $25 membership-fee discount when you auto-renew, you’ve pretty much paid for your membership.
But remember, these numbers are based on someone who spends about $100 a month at BJ’s. If you spend more than that, then you can expect a much higher rewards rate and the card becomes even more valuable.
If you aren’t convinced that the My BJ’s Perks Elite MasterCard is right for you, consider other cash-back cards like the Citi Double Cash or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both cards have a flat rewards rate – 2% and 1.5%, respectively.
Based on an average yearly spend of $25,000, you could earn $500 in cash rewards from the Double Cash and $375 from the Freedom Unlimited.
Don't carry this card in your wallet
I used my Bj's card for everything, a couple of thousand dollars a month which was paid in full each billing cycle. Until I reported a fraudulent transaction to Comenity Bank. After 3 weeks they wrote that they were only liable for the unpaid portion of the transaction. Catch 22 - we will help you only to the extent that you still might owe some money for the fraud that was committed against you.
Came to the conclusion that carrying this card was dangerous to my financial health.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend