Kohl’s Credit Card: Are the Benefits Worth It?

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Popular retailer Kohl’s offers the Kohl’s Charge credit card to earn rewards while you shop. However, are there better cash back alternatives when comparing the benefits of other credit card rewards programs?

Love to shop at Kohl’s? If so, you’re probably aware that loyal customers are offered the opportunity to earn big rewards and perks through Kohl’s retailer credit card, the Kohl’s Charge Card. And while you’ve probably considered it, it’s helpful to know what is included when you sign-up. In this review, we’ll take a look at the Kohl’s Charge in-depth, including its many benefits, the drawbacks, and whether other credit card alternatives might be a better decision after all. Let’s begin!

Overview | Kohl’s Credit Cards

To become a Kohl’s Charge cardholder, you can apply in-store or online. Approval can either be instantaneous, or you may have to wait 7 to 10 days for approval depending on your creditworthiness. Because this card requires no annual fee, you may want to consider it just for access to discounts worry-free.

To start, Kohl’s Charge card works differently than most store-branded credit cards. Instead of an elaborate rewards program or everyday shopper discounts via points systems, Kohl’s Charge card enables cardholders to receive 12 or more special offers every year. These discounts enable cardholders to have access to special offers that offer additional discounts on a particular item’s sale price. Loyal Kohl’s shoppers that spend $600 on their Kohl’s Charge card earn MVC (Most Valued Customer) status, which boosts those special offers to an additional 6 special offers (at least) for a grand total of 18 or more.

These special offers arrive in the mail once a month in the form of scratch-off coupons. You then scratch to reveal either a percentage off your entire purchase, in denominations such as 15%, 20% or 30%. Bear in mind that these special offers are limited to a short period of time, so it pays to time your Kohl’s shopping accordingly.

Other benefits that cardholders currently receive are a 30% discount first purchase in-store or online, as well as a 15% off on qualified items. There are a number of restrictions that apply to what items are and what aren’t viable for discounting, including (but not limited to):

  • Consumables
  • Fragrances
  • Gift cards
  • Premium sunglasses
  • Prestige brands of cosmetics/skincare
  • Select electronics
  • Sporting goods & sports team merchandise

(Full of exclusions to discounts at Kohl’s here.)

Kohl’s Charge Card
Cash Back BenefitsSave 30% on your first purchase

12 Special Offers every year (18+ for MVC members)

15% discount when the card arrives
Annual Fee$0
Average FICO Score to Qualify620 and above

The Drawbacks of Kohl’s Credit Cards

If you’re ready to sign up for Kohl’s Charge Card, you may want to consider some of the main drawbacks for cardholders:

First, Kohl’s Charge Card comes with a rather substantial APR. Credit cards of this type can get you into trouble if you regularly keep a balance each month, so you may want to seriously reconsider whether using this card to finance a large purchase over the long run is beneficial or not.

The second drawback of Kohl’s Charge card is that cardholders aren’t able to use their rewards any time of their choosing. Instead, special offers are only available during certain times and can be confusing for those that don’t stay on top of when expiration dates or limited-time offers end.

How Kohl’s Credit Card Compare to Alternative Programs

Before applying for Kohl’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 does not carry an annual fee. You can earn 5% cash back in combined purchases up to $1500 in the current quarter bonus category. On all other purchases, you will receive a 1% cash back. The current quarterly category that can be activated before June 14, 2019, is grocery stores and home improvement stores (Target and Walmart purchases are not included). Similarly, a new category will be available for activation for the next quarter (July to September).

If you have varied spending and would like to collect points and redeem them for rewards then you can use the quarterly calendar by Chase to set-up reminders for category activation.

The intro offer on APR available on this card is a 0% APR for 15 months time frame for purchases and balance transfers beyond which variable APR will be applied.

Along with introductory APR, you can benefit from the welcome bonus, which is $150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account. The cash back rewards which you receive on this card does not expire and can be redeemed as per your liking as there is no minimum redemption limit. The points collected can be clubbed with another Chase card and redeemed for greater value through the Ultimate Rewards portal on travel.

Purchase protection, fraud protection, and extended warranty are a few add-ons which offer additional security to your purchases.

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

A store-branded credit card benefits are geared towards rewards specific to the store offerings. A card such as Blue Cash Everyday address many essential categories which are frequently in use.

Blue Cash Everyday is a no annual fee credit card and for new members, it offers a welcome bonus where they can earn $150 back in form of reward dollars if they spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

If you are looking to transfer balances then the intro APR offered on Blue Cash Everyday is 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for a period of 15 months, after which a variable APR.

While we spoke of welcome offers, let’s have a close look at the different categories that offer the potential to earn cash back on usage of this card.

  • Earn a 3% cash back at US supermarkets, up to $6000 per year in purchases, beyond that a 1% cash back is received in this category.
  • Earn 2% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores.
  • Earn 1% on every other purchase.

Blue Cash Everyday can be used at some of the popular department stores. To know more about retailers where the points can be earned click here on the link

Few additional benefits in the travel and shopping protection category that come as part of this card are car rental insurance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, global assist hotline,extended warranty, purchase and return protection among many others.

US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The freedom to choose your cash back category is what makes the US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature different from other cards. With this card, you can choose two categories which you are highly likely to spend on and receive a 5% cash back on your first $2000 in the combined eligible net purchases each quarter. So if shopping at a department store is one of your potential spending areas, you could select that to get a 5% cash back.

Besides this, you also can choose an everyday category such as gas or grocery store where you can earn a 2% cash back on the net purchases each quarter.

If you activate the categories tactfully then you would be able to accumulate rewards quickly on this card. In order to keep getting rewards, you have to actively choose categories each quarter or you will lose the benefit and only get a 1% cash back.

There is no annual fee for the US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card. As this is a Visa Signature card it comes with all the benefits which are available to Visa Signature users.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Kohl’s Charge Card offers a lot of benefits for loyal shoppers to the Kohl’s brand that can keep track of their rewards. However, with the various drawbacks–especially considering the rewards are earned and limited to spending in Kohl’s locations–you may want to shop around for stronger alternatives that offer gas rebates, travel rewards, and a lower APR overall.

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