AEO Connected™ Visa® vs. Athleta Visa®

Aerie and Athleta both offer credit cards that let you earn rewards for activewear purchases. Find out which one you should choose: The AEO Connected Visa card or the Athleta Visa card.

The Winner

AEO Connected Visa lets you earn and redeem rewards faster than Athleta Visa

If you love the idea of wearing comfy, workout-ready clothes all day long (and who wouldn't?), then you're probably already familiar with Aerie and Athleta, two of the most popular "athleisure" brands on the market.

Both stores offer credit cards that can help loyal customers earn rewards for their purchases, but the AEO Connected Visa has an earn rate that can't be beaten — along with extra perks that make shopping more fun and budget-friendly.

AEO Connected cardholders earn 5% back on all AEO brand purchases, and if they spend more than $350 in a year, that earn rate goes up to 9%.

Even better, cardholders earn 2% back on all other purchases, which is uniquely high for a store card.

Plus, with no annual fee, there's nothing to recoup, which makes those rewards even sweeter.

Why You Should Consider These Retail Store Credit Cards

Consider these cards if you shop for activewear often

If you shop at Aerie or Athleta often, signing up for a store card lets you earn points on your purchases.

2017 Store Cards Approval Rate

You can also redeem points for discounts on future shopping trips.

And, if you're in the process of building or repairing your credit, you may be eligible for an AEO or Athleta store card.

These offer the same rewards and discounts as the Visa versions (but can only be used at stores and websites within the brand).

Do you stock up on workout clothes and loungewear a few times a year?

Do you typically spend $200 or more in a year at either of these stores?

If so, a store card will give you access to rewards, discounts, and exclusive sales, so you can save money when you shop.

You're the ideal AEO Connected Visa customer if you're a budget-savvy shopper

When you're shopping for clothing, are low prices a priority?

Do you have a good credit score (somewhere between 690–719)?

Are you looking for a credit card that will also reward you for everyday purchases?

Do you plan to pay off your balance in full each month?

If so, the AEO Connected card is a smart choice for you.

You're the perfect Athleta Visa customer if you spend a lot on Gap brand apparel

When shopping for activewear, is performance more important than price?

Do you shop at Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic often?

Do you already have a rewards card you love for everyday purchases, like groceries and gas, and you're just looking for a store loyalty program?

Do you plan to pay off your balance in full each month?

If so, the Athleta Visa card may be a solid choice for you.

The Winner's Strengths

Faster rewards give Aerie's AEO Connected Visa the edge over Athleta

Earn up to 9% back on all purchases within the AEO brand, plus extra discounts and exclusive sales to boost your savings.

Simply put, it's hard to beat the earn rate of the AEO Connected card.

For every dollar spent at any AEO store or website, you'll earn 15 points.

When you accrue 2,500 points, you'll get a $10 reward towards your next AEO purchase — that's an impressive 6% return!

And, if you spend $350 in a year within the AEO brand, you'll get a $15 reward when you hit 2,500 points — that's a 9% return.

AEO Connected also offers 5 points per dollar on everyday purchases, which amounts to a 2% return.

People love the AEO Connected Visa because it helps them save even more

Not only do points accrue quickly with AEO Connected, but Aerie apparel is typically less expensive than Athleta apparel to begin with.

The store often runs big sales, and you can usually find additional coupon codes.

In other words, your rewards stretch a long way.

In addition to public sales, AEO Connected cardholders get access to exclusive cardholder sales, free shipping, a 20% off birthday coupon, and a "buy 5, get 1 free" promotion on bras and jeans.

One downside: The AEO Connected signup bonus can't compete with traditional cash back cards

For starters, it's not really a "bonus" at all — it's a discount.

When you're approved for an AEO Connected Visa credit card, you'll get a signup promotion of 20% off your next Aerie purchase.

In comparison, Athleta offers a $20 signup bonus.

To compete with that, you'll need to spend at least $100 on that first purchase.

In other words, make sure you sign up when you're replenishing your wardrobe — not just buying a pair of socks.

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Yes, Athleta Visa has a slower earn rate, but the spend toward your first reward is less

Athleta Visa may accrue rewards more slowly than AEO Connected, but it's still one of the best store cards out there.

Survey Result: Type of Cards Offered by Retailers

Of course, rewards and perks only benefit you if you actually use the card — so if you shop at Athleta more often than Aerie, then you may want to consider the Athleta Visa.

The math a little complicated, but it can have a big impact on how satisfied you are with your credit card choice.

With AEO Connected, you earn a $10 reward when you reach 2,500 points.

With Athleta Visa, you earn a $5 reward when you reach 500 points.

That means technically, the AEO Connected card earns points at a better rate.

You have to spend $167 at AEO stores to earn $10 in rewards, whereas you have to spend $200 at Gap brand stores to earn $10 in Athleta rewards.

However, because you get to "cash out" when you earn a $5 reward with Athleta — instead of waiting until you've earned a $10 reward with AEO — that means you get your first reward after spending just $100 on the brand.

If you're not a frequent shopper, that can make the Athleta card feel more rewarding, despite the slower earn rate.

People love Athleta because their clothes are built to last

While Aerie apparel is geared more toward comfort and low-impact exercise, Athleta carries premium gear like compression socks, high-impact sports bras, and hiking pants.

Not everyone is willing to splurge on $79 sweatpants.

But if you're looking for high-tech, premium-quality gear, you may prefer Athleta's line.

The Athleta Visa can also be used at Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic — and you'll still earn 15 points per dollar at those stores, so you can earn points on all your wardrobe needs, not just workout gear.

But… Athleta cardholders don't accrue points as quickly

The Athleta Visa offers the same perks as the Gap Visa, which we still consider one of the best credit cards for fashion lovers.

But it just can't compete with the earn rate of the new AEO Connected Visa.

Athleta offers 5 points per dollar at any Gap Inc. store or website, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere.

When you accrue 500 points, you'll get a $5 reward.

That amounts to a 5% return on in-store purchases and a 1% return on everyday purchases.

Again, that's still pretty impressive for a store card — but it falls short of AEO's earn rate.

How the AEO Connected and Athleta cards stack up against each other

AEO Connected Visa Athleta Visa
How high of credit score do you need?



Average APR?



Annual fee?



How big of sign-up bonus do you get?

20% off your first purchase

2,000 points (equivalent to $20)

How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?


Discount applies upon approval


Points posted upon approval

How many points do you get for every dollar?

15 points at AEO

5 points elsewhere

(That's $10 for every 2,500 points.)

5 points at Gap brand stores

1 point elsewhere

(That's $5 for every 500 points.)

Any restrictions?

Cardholders discounts, like "buy 5 get 1 free" jeans (does not apply to clearance merchandise)

If your account is more than 2 months past due, you won't earn rewards on purchases

If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?

In-store: $6 (1,500 points)

Elsewhere: $2 (500 points)

In-store: $5 (500 points)

Elsewhere: $1 (100 points)

How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?

No annual fee

No annual fee

Bonuses and Benefits

Both cards offer discounts along with the flexibility of earning and redeeming points at affiliate stores, so you get rewarded for more than just athleisure gear.

While its sign-up bonus may be lackluster — especially compared to traditional cash back cards or travel rewards cards — AEO Connected offers plenty of perks throughout the year.

AEO Connected offers freebies and flexibility, especially for online shoppers

Earn and redeem at affiliate brands. AEO Connected Visa cardholders earn 15 points per dollar at Aerie, American Eagle, and AEO Factory stores.

Rewards can be redeemed at any AEO brand store.

Get birthday discounts. AEO offers a 20% discount for your birthday.

Your birthday bonus typically can't be combined with other promotions, but it can be stacked with your rewards.

Enjoy free shipping on every order. This is huge for online shoppers — cardholders get free shipping on every order, with no minimum purchase requirement.

Why Americans Shop Online Instead of In-Store?

Earn points outside the brand. Most store cards offer generous rewards on money spent on the brand, and meager rewards for purchases outside the brand.

But AEO Connected offers 5 points per dollar on non-AEO purchases.

That means you only have to spend $500 outside the brand to earn a $10 reward, which is equivalent to a 2% return.

Athleta Visa rewards brick-and-mortar shoppers

Get extra discounts in-store. As we mentioned in our review of the Gap Visa card — which is nearly identical to the Athleta Visa — cardholders get an extra 10% discount at brick-and-mortar Gap brand stores.

If you do most of your shopping offline, this may be appealing.

The perks apply to affiliate stores too. Athleta Visa cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at Athleta, Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores, and can redeem rewards at any of those stores.

Shipping perks vary. Athleta Visa cardholders get two free expedited shipping passes per year, and shipping is always free on orders over $50.

But otherwise, cardholders can expect to pay a flat-rate shipping fee on smaller orders.

Costs and Fees

Neither card has an annual fee, so that's a plus.

But both cards charge steep interest rates, so if you carry a balance, those comfy leggings could end up costing way more than you originally budgeted for.

High fees and rates are the biggest downsides of the AEO Connected Visa

Beware the APR. At 24.99%, it's more than double what a low-interest credit card might charge.

Skip the ATM. Cash advance fees are either $10 or 3% of the cash amount — whichever is higher — and the APR on cash advances is 27.99%.

Leave it home if you go abroad. The AEO Connected Visa has a 3% foreign transaction fee on all overseas purchases.

Pay on time. Late fees can be as high as $35.

You'd have to spend over $580 at AEO just to recoup that much in rewards.

Athleta Visa has even higher fees

Seriously, pay your balance. The 25.99% APR is even higher than AEO Connected's interest rates.

Don't withdraw cash. Cash advance fees are either $10 or 4% the cash amount — so if you're withdrawing a large amount, you'll end up paying even more with this card than you would with AEO.

Higher late fees. The late fees can be as high as $37.

And because the rewards accrue a bit more slowly with the Athleta Visa, you'd have to spend over $700 on the brand just to recoup that.

Customer Service

You'll likely find much better customer service from a traditional cash back or travel rewards card.

But if you're a frequent Aerie or Athleta shopper, you might feel the discounts and rewards make up for the lack of VIP treatment.

Frequent AEO shoppers have the best experience

Loyal customers say the exclusive sales, frequent discounts, and fast rewards for AEO Connected cardholders make their shopping experience more rewarding.

But when issues arise, customer service can be hit or miss.

One common complaint: If you go too long without making a purchase, your AEO Connected account may be closed without warning.

Don't sign up unless you know you'll shop there a few times per year.

Athleta cardholders say customer service is spotty

Customers frequently complain about having to muddle through an automated menu to reach a customer service representative.

And some customers say they requested a lower APR or higher spending limit and were abruptly turned down.

But while the customer service phone line can be underwhelming, the store itself is known for having one of the best retail return policies.

Key Digital Services

You can access your account through the AEO Connected Visa website or the Athleta Visa website — no surprises there.

And both cards offer apps designed to make it easier to earn and redeem rewards.

The apps probably won't make or break your decision to sign up for a store loyalty credit card, but they're still useful and easy to navigate.

Retail Credit Card Revenue from 2014-2017

Track your rewards through the AEO|Aerie app

The AEO|Aerie app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, lets you check your rewards balance easily.

Aerie offers exclusive styles and a wider range of sizes through the app than they do in stores.

Plus, you can save your favorite products so they're easy to find when you're ready to redeem your rewards.

Athleta's app makes shopping simple

The Athleta app, which is also available for Apple and Android devices, offers a simple, three-step checkout.

Confirm your shipping address, redeem any rewards in your account, and click to review your purchase — and you're all set.

And remember the thorny automated menu? You don't need to navigate it for payments — you can access your account through the app.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get started with an AEO Connected Visa card?

    You can apply easily through the AEO Connected Visa website.

    Just keep in mind your signup discount isn't valid until your card is approved, so you may want to apply before you start filling your shopping cart.

    Some customers complained that by the time their card was approved, some of the items in their cart were out of stock.

  • How do I get started with an Athleta Visa card?

    Apply online at the Athleta Visa website.

    You won't receive your $20 signup reward until your card is approved — but it's worth $20 whether you're spending $20.01 or $2,000, so it doesn't matter too much when you use it.

    (If you're considering an Athleta Visa, you're probably a pretty regular customer.)

  • How do I close my AEO Connected Visa account?

    To close your AEO credit card account, contact Synchrony Bank at 1-866-913-6765.

    Your AEO Connected fashion loyalty program will still remain active.

    You can close that separately by calling 1-800-340-0532, or you can keep it open so you still earn rewards, although they'll accrue at a slower pace once you're no longer a cardholder.

  • How do I close my Athleta Visa account?

    To close your Athleta Visa, call 1-855-327-4359.

    Make sure you redeem any rewards before closing your account.

    In order to redeem rewards, you need to spend more than the reward is worth and charge the balance to your Athleta Visa card.

    (For example, to redeem a $25 reward, you need to spend at least $25.01.)

  • How can I talk to a human at AEO Connected?

    If you have the AEO Connected Visa card, you can speak with a customer service representative by calling 1-866-913-6765.

    If you have the store card, call 1-800-843-0875 instead.

  • How can I talk to a human at Athleta Visa?

    To speak with someone about your Athleta credit card, call 1-855-327-4359.

  • Can I use my AEO Connected or Athleta reward points to buy store gift cards?

    No, neither rewards can be used toward the purchase of gift cards.

  • What's the difference between the store cards and the Visa cards?

    Both AEO Connected and Athleta offer a store card option for customers whose credit score isn't strong enough to get approved for the Visa version.

    These cards typically have lower credit limits and can only be used on the brand.

    But otherwise, both store cards offer the same perks and discounts, along with the opportunity to build better credit.

  • Will either card help me build better credit?

    Yes. Both credit cards report to the credit bureaus — so as long as you don't max out your credit limit or fall behind on payments, carrying one of these cards can help improve your credit score.

Fast rewards make the AEO Connected card a clear winner

If you shop at Aerie often, the AEO Connected card is a no-brainer.

Not only does it offer a fast earn rate on purchases within the AEO brand, but it even offers a higher-than-usual earn rate on purchases outside the brand.

Of course, if you do most of your shopping at Athleta, it makes sense to go with their card instead.

But if you're a loyal Aerie customer, you'll love how quickly the rewards add up and how often you receive discounts.

And because there's no annual fee, you don't have to worry about spending a certain amount just to recoup that money.

As long as you pay your balance in full each month (and avoid racking up interest), the rewards are all gravy.

Do you use the AEO Connected card or the Athleta Visa card?

How has it worked out for you?

Any experiences or tips to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.

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