JCPenney Credit Card: Are the Benefits Worth It?

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JCPenney Credit Card and its Mastercard counterpart offer the opportunity to earn rewards for purchases. We’ll examine the benefits and drawbacks of these credit cards, as well as how they stack up to other alternative cash back programs.

As one of the most beloved department stores in the U.S., JCPenney has consistently delivered quality products to their customers. Everything from popular clothing brands to home appliances, jewelry, shoes, and furniture–JCPenney has it all. And to help its customers earn rewards while making purchases, JCPenney offers its own version of retailer credit cards, the JCPenney Credit Card and the JCPenney Mastercard. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of keeping it in your wallet, the drawbacks associated with its use, and alternative credit cards that may offer better rates and rewards.

Overview | JCPenney Credit Cards

To begin, apply for the card at JCPenney’s store in-person or online. Depending on your creditworthiness, you’ll be issued one of two available store-branded credit cards (both issued by Synchrony Bank): the JCPenney Card and JCPenney Mastercard. Approval is either instantaneous or may take 7-10 days to receive an approval.

It should be noted that you don’t have an option to choose which card you’ll be approved for when applying. However, regular cardholders of the basic JCPenney Card may be able to upgrade to the JCPenney Mastercard, if they meet specific qualifying criteria.

The JCPenney Card

As the basic store-branded credit card, the JCPenney Card can only be used to make purchases at JCPenney, Sephora stores (located inside JCPenney stores), as well as some participating Rite Aid and CVS stores. Also, the online websites for each are also viable for using your JCPenney Card, including JCPenney.com, Sephora.com, and Riteaid.com. However, at the time of this writing, stand-alone Sephora stores do not accept the JCPenney Card.

There are a number of perks that you can receive for signing up with the JCPenney Card. First, immediately upon signing up, cardholders earn a first purchase discount. This means that you can save:

  • 15% off JCPenney’s selection of apparel, shoes, salon products, accessories, jewelry, furniture, mattresses, and other home purchases
  • 15% off custom shades and blinds (U.S.-based stores only)
  • 5% of major appliances (U.S.-based stores only)
  • 5% off electronics (including televisions), smart watches, and Modern Bride® Design Your Dream Ring.

Also, if you have to wait for card approval after applying for your JCPenney card and don’t receive an instant credit decision when applying, approved cardholders will receive a $10 coupon in their credit card package.

Next, you’ll receive double member reward points, which means that for every dollar you spend at qualifying locations, you’ll earn 1 point. The “double” meaning can be confusing, as the 1:1 earning ratio seems odd–however, regular basic JCPenney Rewards members  (non-cardholders) only receive 1 point for every $2 spent. Hence, the “double” distinction.

The JCPenney Card comes with exclusive coupons and special savings days, which enables cardholders to receive even greater discounts than regular rewards members on Special Savings Days (such as Memorial Day sales).

Another perk you’ll receive is that you’ll receive a $10 certificate for every 200 points earned. This means that making $200 in purchases nets your $10, or each point equals $.05.

Birthday offers also come with having the JCPenney card in your wallet. This means that if you’ve made at least 1 purchase in the past 12 months and keep your account in good standing, you can receive a birthday gift around the day you were born.

Perhaps one of the better benefits of signing up for the JCPenney Card is for the special financing offers. For some products and merchandise that JCPenney carries (i.e. mattresses, furniture, jewelry, major appliances, and more), you may qualify for special financing in increments of 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 months. Be aware that the fine print of special financing offers, as you may be responsible for paying off the entire purchase in the allocated time frame to avoid being slapped with the substantial APR of this card.

JCPenney Mastercard

The JCPenney Mastercard includes all of the aforementioned benefits and perks of the JCPenney Card, while also enabling cardholders to use this card anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

One clear distinction that separates this credit card from other store-branded credit cards (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, Discover) is that you don’t earn points on making outside purchases. This limitation may turn off those who use the JCPenney Mastercard on other purchases to earn more points.

Earning and Spending Rewards Points

Once you’ve been approved, both the JCPenney Card and JCPenney Mastercard automatically enrolls cardholders in the JCPenney Rewards program. And as we mentioned earlier, the ability to earn double points makes this a great perk to sign-up for.

For every 200 points that you earn, a $10 rewards certificate is issued. Considering that there’s no limit to the number of $10 rewards certificates you earn, you can earn significant discounts if you’re a regular JCPenney shopper.

Rewards earned in-store are available immediately after earning them and can be used towards the next transaction at a later point. For online transactions, you will receive these certificates within 24 hours. And if your email isn’t on file, the rewards certificate will be sent by mail, which typically takes 3 – 4 weeks after earning the reward. And for reference, rewards are included on their respective billing statement.

There are some limitations to earning and spending rewards points with JCPenney credit cards:

  • First, points are earned on the dollar amount after all coupons and discounts have been applied to your purchase.
  • The maximum number of points that you can get in a single transaction is 2,000 points, regardless of the amount of the qualifying purchase.
  • If you return a purchase, those points earned are then revoked.
  • Shoppers can only use their JCPenney rewards certificates on eligible JCPenney purchases.
  • Purchases that earn rewards points must meet eligibility guidelines (found in JCPenney’s terms and conditions), which excludes some of the following:
    • Sephora products bought outside of JCPenney Stores (or online at jcp.com),
    • gift cards
    • international purchases
    • dollars spent on sales tax, state fees, and charges and fees (such as shipping fees, delivery fees, installation charges, restocking/recycling fees)
  • Rewards points that you earn do not expire as long as the cardholder’s JCPenney rewards account remains active (to stay active, you must make a purchase and earn points at least once in a 12-month period)

JCPenney Credit CardJCPenney Mastercard
Cash Back BenefitsDouble Member Reward points(1x point per $1 spent at JCPenney)

Receive $10 certificate per 200 points earned

First purchase discount
Double Member Reward points(1x point per $1 spent at JCPenney)

Receive $10 certificate per 200 points earned

First purchase discount
Annual Fee$0$0
APR28.24% (variable)28.24% (variable)
Average FICO Score to Qualify620 and above640 and above

The Drawbacks of JCPenney Credit Cards

Despite all of the great rewards you can earn from JCPenney’s line of credit cards, there are some drawbacks to be aware of:

  • First, the APR (currently at a variable 27.99%) is extremely high, even for store-brand cards. Carrying a balance can quickly rack up significant charges, so paying your balance in full is mandatory to avoid falling into debt fast.
  • Second, with the basic JCPenney card, your purchases are limited to stores under the JCPenney banner, including JCPenney, Rite Aid, Sephora stores (inside JCPenney) and the online outlets of each.
  • Last, the deferred interest of the special financing program can lead cardholders into hot water with high APR charges if the balance isn’t paid within the promotion period.

How JCPenney’s Credit Card Compare to Alternative Programs

Before applying for JCPenney’s credit cards you should explore all-purpose cards that will offer more spending flexibility and favorable rewards programs. Three we recommend are:

Chase Freedom

Chase freedom credit card has benefits which are easy to understand and can be put to use as per your requirement. The card offers unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases but it also allows you to activate a category each quarter where you can earn a 5% cash back in combined purchases up to $1500.

In the first quarter of 2019 gas stations, tolls and drug stores were available for activation. In the second quarter (April- June) grocery stores and home improvement stores are available, this benefit must be activated by June 14, 2019, if you are currently a Chase Freedom cardholder.

To know the upcoming categories you can check out the cash back calendar at Chase website.

There is no annual fee for usage of this card. You could receive a $150 bonus if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Chase Freedom also offers an exciting introductory APR. To begin with, you can get a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after which your account will be charged as per variable APR rates. If you tend to carry a balance then a 15 months period of 0% APR can be helpful in mobilizing payments.

The points on this card do not expire as long as your account is active. There is no minimum amount to redeem cash back and the points can be redeemed for gift cards, as statement credits or can be used to shop on Amazon.com

This card also offers different types of protection such as zero liability, purchase protection, extended warranty and fraud protection.

Capital One Quicksilver

If you are searching for a card that simplifies earning cash back then you must consider Quicksilver Cash Rewards card. On this card, you earn 1.5% flat cash back on every purchase. A welcome bonus of $150 is available for new applicants if they spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening their account.

The cash back rewards you earn can cover your purchase or you can get a gift card or have the rewards applied as a statement credit.

At present, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card does not have an annual fee and foreign transaction fee.

Security alerts, zero fraud liability, card lock, CreditWise are some of the features that can help track, and protect your transactions. In addition, you also have a few protection and travel benefits.

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

If you don’t want to spend on annual fee yet want rewards from everyday purchases then you will find Blue Cash Everyday beneficial. There is no annual fee on this card, it offers the potential to get a $150 bonus when you spend $1,000 on your purchases within 3 months of account opening.

New users can also avail 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for a period of 15 months after which variable APR rates (15.24% to 26.24%) are applied.

Earning cashback potential is good on this card as you can get a 3% cash back at US Supermarkets purchases (Up to 6,000 per year) after which the cashback percentage is lowered to 1%.

You also receive a 2% cash back on purchases made at US gas stations and select US department stores.JCPenny is one of the department stores where you would earn 2% cash back on your purchase.

For all other purchases, you get 1% cashback.

It’s important to note that the cash back is in the form of reward dollars which can be later redeemed for a statement credit, gift card or shopping with listed retailers. The AMEX benefits that come along with this card are return protection, roadside assistance hotline, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty. To be eligible to apply for this card you must have a good credit score.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the credit cards offered by JCPenney can lead to egreat rewards if you are a regular shopper, especially if you focus on making the most out of bonus shopping days on select products. However, the steep drawbacks may make you reconsider these credit cards as your first choice. In actuality, there are many other cards with lower APR and better rewards programs that enable shopping in a wider variety of locations than JCPenney’s line of stores. Be sure to consider stronger alternative credit cards before fully committing to JCPenney’s store-branded credit cards.

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