JCPenney Credit Card review: Worth it for frequent shoppers?

Image:

In a Nutshell

The JCPenney Credit Card boasts store-specific rewards that could be hard to beat. And with access to more than 100 days of exclusive savings events, cardholders can rack up even more deals at JCPenney. But beware of the high annual fee and lackluster sign-up bonus that come with this card.

We generally make money when you get a product (like a credit card or loan) through our platform, but we don’t let that cloud our editorial opinions. Learn more about how we keep this compensation from affecting our editorial views.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

The JCPenney Credit Card, issued by Synchrony Bank, could be a compelling option for fans of this major U.S. department store.

If you’re happy to do your spending and points redemption only with JCPenney, the rewards rate that comes with the JCPenney Credit Card might be worth signing up for. But if you don’t find yourself in a JCPenney® store (or on jcp.com) that often, a standard cash back credit card may be a better option for you.

If you’re considering adding the JCPenny Credit Card to your wallet, read on to find out what we like and don’t like about this card.

What we like Heads up
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1 rewards point for every $1 spent at JCPenney or jcp.com
  • $10 in JCPenney Rewards for every 200 points you earn
  • There’s no limit to the amount of rewards you can earn
  • Tons of ways to exclusively save at JCPenney
  • Staggering purchase APR of 27.99%
  • Points don’t expire as long as you earn points at least once every 12 months
  • Rewards certificates expire within a few months
  • Sign-up bonus offers lukewarm savings
  • Points earned in a single transaction are limited to 2,000
  • The card is dead weight in your wallet outside of spending at JCPenney and affiliated stores

 

1. The rundown: Everything we like about the JCPenney Credit Card
2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the JCPenney Credit Card
3. Do the math: Ways to get the most out of the JCPenney Credit Card
4. The competition: How the JCPenney Credit Card stacks up against similar cards
5. Bottom line: Is the JCPenney Credit Card right for you?


The rundown: Everything we like about the JCPenney Credit Card

Here are our favorite JCPenney Credit Card perks for fans of the big-name department store.

Straightforward points for your purchases: When you pay for your in-store or online qualifying JCPenney® purchase with your JCPenney Credit Card, you receive one point for every $1 you spend. Plus, purchase exclusions for earning rewards are minimal.

Automatic rewards: When your account hits a balance of 200 rewards points, you’ll automatically be sent a $10 JCPenney Rewards certificate that you can use toward eligible purchases at JCPenney. That works out to a rewards rate of 5%, which is pretty nice. And rewards certificates should be available electronically within 24 hours of reaching the magic 200-point mark.

Unlimited rewards that you can stack: There’s no limit to the number of JCPenney Rewards certificates you can earn. Plus you can redeem up to 10 JCPenney Rewards certificates — that’s up to $100 in rewards — on a single purchase in store or online.

Points that never expire (as long as you keep spending): Your rewards points will stay with you if you keep your JCPenney Rewards membership active by earning points at least once every 12 months.

Exclusive deals: Eligible JCPenney Rewards members will receive notification of members-only offers such as bonus points opportunities, dollar-off coupons and even a special birthday offer. In fact, JCPenney boasts that its cardholders receive more than 100 days of exclusive savings deals each year.

Special financing opportunities: As the owner of a JCPenney Credit Card, you may qualify for special financing on select purchases.

Are retail cards the easiest credit cards to get approved for?

 

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the JCPenney Credit Card

The JCPenney Credit Card isn’t without its drawbacks. Watch out for these not-so-great features.

High purchase APR: This card comes with an interest rate that’s no joke. The purchase APR on this card is a whopping 27.99%. If your balance carries over month-to-month, your interest due could be astronomical.

Cap on your transactional earnings: If you’re hoping to rake in the rewards on a huge single purchase, think again. You’re limited to 2,000 Rewards Points per transaction, regardless of the price of your purchase.

Ticking clock on rewards certificates: Your points may not expire while your account is active, but those $10 rewards certificates don’t last as long. Note the expiration date on each certificate you have — it’ll be at least 45 days from the date of issue — and be sure to use your rewards certificates before that date.

So-so sign-up bonus: JCPenney is currently offering a sign-up bonus when you open a store card. You’ll receive your choice of a 20% discount on select apparel, shoes, accessories, fine jewelry, or home and salon supplies, or 5% off your purchase of select major appliances or modern bride diamond vault items. Neither discount is a super impressive option compared to sign-up bonuses that come with other cards.

The pros and cons of department store credit cards

 

Do the math: Ways to get the most out of the JCPenney Credit Card

This card is certainly worth a glance if you frequently find yourself in JCPenney® stores or on its website. With more than 100 days of savings events for card members only, the JCPenney Credit Card rewards shoppers who can’t stay away.

To maximize your rewards, use your card whenever you shop with JCPenney. The 5% back beats a lot of other credit cards on the market, though you’re limited to spending those rewards at JCPenney.

Bonus tip: Hold off on making a purchase until one of those promotional events comes along. (You probably won’t have to wait too long.)

Keep track of the expiration dates on your rewards dollars so that you can spend them before they go stale. Above all, avoid carrying a balance on your JCPenney Credit Card — with a 27.99% purchase APR, the interest charges could cost you dearly.


The competition: How the JCPenney Credit Card stacks up against similar cards

Best for Credit card
JCPenney® store savings for midlevel spenders JCPenney Gold Card
JCPenney® store savings for high-level spenders JCPenney Platinum Card
Simple cash back Citi® Double Cash Card

 

JCPenney® Gold Card

Like other retailers, JCPenney offers a tiered rewards system for its credit card holders. When your spending on the JCPenney Credit Card for the calendar year hits $500 in purchases at JCPenney stores and online, you’ll be upgraded to the JCPenney Gold Card, though that level gives you little more than a special JCPenney coupon book. You’ll have to keep your annual spending on the card at $500 or more on eligible purchases to maintain Gold status.

JCPenney Platinum Card

Once your calendar year spending on the JCPenney Credit Card tops $1,000 in purchases at JCPenney stores and online, JCPenney bumps you up to its Platinum Card. Extra perks include special sales available only to Platinum members. You’ll have to keep your annual spending at $1,000 or more on eligible purchases to maintain Platinum status.

Citi® Double Cash Card

If you want a credit card you can take almost anywhere, with rewards you can turn into actual cash, look beyond the trio of JCPenney store cards. With 2% cash back rewards — 1% at the time of purchase and an additional 1% when you pay off those purchases — the Citi® Double Cash Card gives you easy, unlimited rewards wherever you go.

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees
From our partner

Bottom line: Is the JCPenney Credit Card right for you?

As with most store cards, there’s zero benefit to carrying this one if you’re not a regular shopper at JCPenney. And if you tend to carry a balance from one month into the next, you could wind up paying more in crazy-high interest rates than you recoup in rewards.

But JCPenney fans can enjoy the deluge of special deals and the 5% year-round store rewards rate. And the card application can be completed both in store and via an online application.

Want the best of both worlds? Put your JCPenney purchases on the JCPenney Credit Card to earn 5%, and then pay off your balance on time and in full to avoid high interest costs.


Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.