Macy’s American Express® Card review: Will it be a star in your wallet?

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In a Nutshell

Loyal customers may be enticed by the Macy’s American Express® Card, but you’ll only earn rewards at Macy’s if you spend $1,200 at the store every year. Otherwise, this card offers limited rewards opportunities, a high APR and some benefits that are available anyway to rewards program members who don’t sign up for a store credit card. Plus, the application process might get you a different card than you expect — one that can only be used at Macy’s.

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Pros Cons
Cardholders can earn rewards points on purchases not at Macy’s Rewards are limited and vary based on how much you spend at Macy’s
Cardholders earn the same amount of points on non-Macy’s purchases regardless of their rewards program tier A high APR and deferred-interest offers may lead to debt if you carry a balance
You may not get the card you expected because of a confusing application process
You’ll earn points on purchases made at Macy’s if you spend $1,200 at the store every year

What you need to know about the Macy’s American Express® Card

You might end up with a different card than you expected

Make sure to read the fine print carefully when you apply for a Macy’s credit card. If you don’t, you may not realize that Citi, the issuer, automatically considers you for two credit cards — the Macy’s American Express® Card and the Macy’s Card.

The Macy’s American Express® Card can be used anywhere American Express is accepted. But the Macy’s Card is a closed-loop credit card that can be used only at Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage and online at macys.com.

If you qualify for both cards, you get to decide which one you want to open. But if you qualify only for the Macy’s Card, you’ll have to choose between getting a card with limited use and less rewards potential and forgoing a Macy’s store card altogether.

You’ll earn rewards everywhere you shop … except maybe Macy’s

Most store-branded credit cards offer the greatest rewards-earning potential when you shop at their stores. But that’s not the case with the Macy’s American Express® Card — at least not right away.

In fact, you won’t earn any rewards on regular purchases at Macy’s until you reach the highest tier of Macy’s Star Rewards program. Unlike most store credit cards, this one may not immediately reward you for being a loyal customer.

Here’s how the rewards tiers work with your Macy’s American Express® Card. First, every cardholder is assigned an account status based on the amount of money they spend at Macy’s stores annually.

  • Bronze (no spend requirement)
  • Silver ($1 to $499)
  • Gold ($500 to $1,199)
  • Platinum ($1,200+)

Cardholders with the Macy’s American Express® Card at all levels earn 3% rewards on purchases at restaurants, 2% at gas stations and grocery supermarkets and 1% everywhere else (except Macy’s). Other card benefits like shopping discounts, event invitations and free shipping vary based on your account status.

But you won’t get rewarded for using your card to shop at Macy’s until your account reaches the Platinum level, which requires you to spend at least $1,200 a year at Macy’s. Once you become a Platinum member, you’ll earn 5% back in rewards on Macy’s purchases when you pay with your card.

You can take a look at what each Macy’s Star Rewards tier offers at their website.

Rewards points may add up quickly … or not

When you earn 1,000 rewards points, you’ll receive a $10 Star Money reward, which you can redeem at Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage or macys.com. If you’re thinking about saving your rewards for something special, you may want to think again — each reward is good for only 30 days after the date it’s issued.

So, how long will it take you to earn 1,000 points? That depends on where you shop.

For example, if you’re a Platinum cardholder, you could earn 1,000 points by spending $200 at Macy’s, since each dollar you spend is worth five points.

But if you’re a Silver or Gold member, you’d have to spend more and shop somewhere other than Macy’s with the Macy’s American Express® Card to accumulate the same 1,000 points. That’s a lot of groceries, fill-ups and meals out on the town just to earn a reward that will cover the cost of a pair of socks.

Unless you’re a Platinum member, it’ll probably take you longer to rack up points with this card than other store cards that reward you for being a loyal customer.

High APR and deferred interest offers could lead to debt

As of November 2018, the average APR for credit card accounts that were charged interest was 16.86%. But at a whopping 27.49%, the variable purchase APR on the Macy’s American Express® Card is more than 60% higher than that average. If you typically carry a balance, you could end up paying a lot more than you bargained for just on interest.

Plus, the APR isn’t the only way you could get stuck with high interest charges. Citi periodically runs 0% interest promotions on the Macy’s American Express® Card that allow consumers to avoid paying interest on their purchases until after a certain promotional period ends.

Before you take advantage of one of these offers, be sure to read the fine print. If these offers use deferred interest and you don’t pay off the full balance in time, you could be on the hook for all the interest that would have accrued on your purchase — not just the remaining balance.

Additional Macy’s American Express® Card features

In addition to earning rewards points you can use to make future purchases, you’ll also receive other perks with the Macy’s American Express® Card, including …

  • Special offers. Depending on your membership tier, you can take advantage of extra savings, event invitations, birthday offers and special shopping days that give you an opportunity to earn additional points toward your next Star Money award.
  • Free standard shipping with no minimum purchase required. If you’ve achieved Gold or Platinum status, you’ll receive free shipping on macys.com purchases (with some restrictions) that are shipped within the continental United States.
  • Entertainment access. Get early access to tickets for popular concerts, shows and sporting events when you use your card to purchase them.
  • Travel benefits. When you book travel with your Macy’s American Express® Card, you may receive discounts and other perks on car rentals, hotel stays, cruises and vacation packages.

But you don’t need to be a cardholder to participate in the Star Rewards program. You won’t receive all the benefits that come with having a card, but you can still earn points toward rewards during special Star Money Days promotions, get offers for extra savings, receive event invitations and more.

Who this card is good for

Because the rewards are specific to Macy’s, this card is best for people who already spend $1,200 or more a year at Macy’s to earn Platinum status, and who could maximize their benefits by earning five points for every $1 they spend with the store.

This card probably isn’t for you if you spend less than $1,200 a year at Macy’s or carry a balance on your credit card. If you can’t earn rewards at Macy’s or might carry a balance, you could end up paying serious interest without the rewards to show for it.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you’re not sure the Macy’s American Express® Card is right for you, check out these three cards instead.

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: This card is good for people who do the bulk of their shopping online. Read our review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card to learn more.
  • Target REDcard™: If you prefer to buy all your everyday essentials under one roof, this card could help you save. Check out our Target REDcard™ review.
  • GapCard: This card could be a good choice for a fashionista who likes to get their clothing and accessories from a single brand and its affiliates. Get additional details from our review of the Gap Credit Card.