If you don't believe in suffering for fashion, you may be a fan of American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), the casual apparel brand known for its trendy designs and comfy collections of soft-knit tees, stretch denim, and stylish loungewear. Along with private-label tees, jeans, dresses, swimwear, and activewear, AEO also offers a line of intimates through its sub-brand, Aerie—so it's no surprise that the retailer is a one-stop shop for many of its customers.
Did you know? American Eagle Outfitters was originally founded as an outdoor apparel brand in 1977. As the company grew, it shifted its focus to casual apparel and dorm-wear, and its popularity spiked after the brandprovided wardrobe pieces for the hit TV series "Dawson's Creek."
American Eagle introduced their credit card program in 1996. Today, American Eagle Outfitters has more than 1,000 stores in North America and parts of Asia, and ships to more than 80 countries worldwide—giving customers plenty of opportunities to use one of their American Eagle credit cards.
For those who shop there often, American Eagle offers two credit card options: an AEO Visa Card and an AEO Credit Card. Both cards allow customers to earn points on their American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie purchases and redeem them for discounts toward future purchases.
So which American Eagle Outfitters credit card works for you? And are the perks all they're cracked up to be? Here's what you need to know:
- The AEO Visa Card works anywhere, whereas the AEO Credit Card is a store card that only works at American Eagle, Aerie, and the company website.
- No need to choose between cards—customers fill out an application for the AEO Visa Card. If your credit history isn't strong enough to get approved for the Visa Card, you may be approved for the AEO Credit Card instead.
- Frequent shoppers at American Eagle can earn rewards and gain access to exclusive sales.
- The rewards on the American Eagle Outfitters credit cards may not accrue as quickly as most customers would like. You're likely to find lower interest rates—and, well, more rewarding rewards with another credit card.
- All customers have access to the AE Rewards program and frequent sales and coupons, even without signing up for one of the credit cards—so you can often find similar deals without risking credit card debt.
Want to know more? Here's the lowdown on how the American Eagle credit cards work and which one of them may be the right choice for you.
Products and Services Offered
Along with American Eagle Outfitters stores, the brand also operates Aerie Stores, AEO Factory outlet stores, and the AEO website, which carries an even wider selection from all three of the above.
The AEO brand is geared toward teens and 20-somethings. That means many customers in its target market are struggling to pay off student debt and build their credit history on an entry-level income—so they may not always have a ton of extra spending cash. For customers who need a little more buying power, AEO offers both a Visa card and a store card.
The AEO Credit Card—the store card—can only be used at American Eagle stores, along with AEO factory stores, Aerie stores, and its online store. The AEO Visa Card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. Both credit cards offer a sign-up discount, a birthday coupon, exclusive sales, and the chance to earn rewards through the Extra Savings program, a scheme where customers earn 1 point for every $25 spent at American Eagle (in-store or online). When a customer accrues 10 points, they receive a $10 gift card applicable toward a future purchase through the Extra Savings Program.
When finances are tight, but your wish list is a mile long, one of these American Eagle credit cards may seem like the perfect way to shop now, pay later, and earn a few rewards along the way. The company benefits too: Because the rewards are issued as coupons toward future purchases—rather than as cash back—customers have an incentive to return to the store and shop more.
What do people love the most about it?
American Eagle has been lauded by both consumers and industry experts for its commitment to using non-Photoshopped models and a variety of body types in ad campaigns for their Aerie brand of intimate apparel. Business Insider reported that, after nixing Photoshop, Aerie's sales rose 32% in the first fiscal quarter of 2016. "Aerie serves as an alternative for young women, who are often bombarded by unrealistic imagery from the media," writer Mallory Schlossberg notes.
For those who swear by American Eagle and Aerie apparel, the credit card perks are enticing. Both the American Eagle Visa Card and American Eagle Credit Card offers the same basic benefits:
15% off your first purchase when you're approved for a new credit card
A 20%-off birthday coupon when your account is in good standing
Exclusive cardholder savings events
The ability to earn points on purchases through the Extra Savings program
What do people dislike about the company?
Experts note that the sign-up bonus for American Eagle credit cards is lackluster, and the opportunities to redeem rewards are limited. Christina Majaski of MyBankTracker.com writes, "It isn't the most valuable sign-up bonus. Other rewards credit cards typically offer bonuses worth hundreds of dollars to attract new cardmembers. Plus, you can only use the bonus discount at American Eagle or Aerie stores."
Compare the 15% sign-up discount from American Eagle to the sign-up bonus you'd receive from a traditional rewards card like Chase Freedom, which is currently offering a $150 cashback bonus when you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months—and that applies to purchases at any store. In comparison, if you wanted your 15% signup discount at American Eagle to be worth $150, your first purchase at American Eagle would have to total $1000 or more!
If the sign-up discount is the only thing enticing you to apply for an American Eagle credit card, opt into the mailing list instead and you'll receive similar discounts.
If you're a diehard fan of the American Eagle brand, there are definitely some perks to being a cardholder. Here are the biggest benefits of carrying an AEO Visa Card or AEO Credit Card:
Earn points on AEO purchases. This is the most obvious perk. For every $25 you spend at American Eagle or its related brands, you'll earn 1 point. When you earn 10 points—the equivalent of spending $250—you'll receive a $10 Extra Savings Pass.
Earn points on purchases anywhere. Customers with the AEO Visa Card will also earn 1 point for every $100 spent elsewhere. For example, if you spend $250 at American Eagle (10 points) and $1,000 on other expenses (another 10 points), you would receive a $20 Extra Savings Pass.
Get the convenience of credit. Both American Eagle credit cards offer all the usual benefits of shopping with credit. Need a dress for a friend's wedding this weekend, but don't have the funds to buy one right now? Charge it to your American Eagle credit card, earn points for your purchase, and pay it off down the road. Customers with the American Eagle Visa card also have access to cash advances, although fees apply.
Affordable prices. While the credit limit on the AEO Credit Card can be low (especially on the non-Visa version)—sometimes as low as $150—it's an opportunity to build a credit history for customers who may not be approved for other rewards-based credit cards with higher limits. A reviewer at the myFICO forums writes:
"I remember getting those baby-step limits, but it opened doors to special store discounts and greater rewards."
And the lower limits are offset a bit by the reasonable prices at American Eagle stores. While $150 may not be enough to buy a single pair of jeans at some retailers, one user on the MyFico forums commented, "You can buy half the store for $150 there." Of course, that's an exaggeration, but it is true that a lower credit limit can stretch a bit further at American Eagle than it may at other retailers.
Even if you're a frequent shopper, an American Eagle credit card may not be the ideal solution for you. Here are a few reasons you may want to shop around for a more rewarding card.
Interest rates are high. This is a major pitfall for both American Eagle credit cards. The AEO Credit Card has a 25.74% APR, and the AEO Visa card has a 24.74% APR.
Cash advances have steep fees. The Visa card also offers cash advances, which can be helpful in a pinch—but the fees are a bit painful. There's a minimum fee of $10 for every cash advance, and the APR for cash advances is a whopping 27.74%.
The rewards may not outweigh the risks. Those high fees can quickly chip away at any rewards you earn. Let's say you spend $250 this month on a few new pieces for your summer wardrobe. You'll earn a $10 Extra Savings Pass on your purchase—but according to our credit card calculator, if you only make a $25 minimum payment on your credit card bill, you'll end up paying an extra $34 in interest on your purchase—more than triple the rewards you earned!
Bottom line: If you want to take advantage of the card's benefits, it's important that you don't carry a balance from month to month. The Krazy Coupon Lady writes:
"Be aware that the AEO credit card has a very steep APR...so only open an AEO Credit Card if you are confident that you can pay your card balance in full each month." And a cardmember at CreditCardForum.com says, "Don't shoot yourself in the foot by only making the minimum payment and carrying a balance, because these rates are high! If you do that, then the AE credit card is definitely not worth it!"
You may not be able to stack discounts. According to the terms and conditions of the AEO Extra Savings Program, Extra Savings passes cannot be combined with other promotional offers. Because American Eagle frequently runs sales and promotions in stores and on its website, that may limit which products are eligible for purchase with the rewards you've earned.
Michael Pruser at CompareCards.com writes, "You'll get 15% off your first purchase… This is a typical hook to get many of the store credit card users, but do not be fooled by it. This is the last reason you should get a store credit card if you are indeed interested in one." Overall, the discounts associated with American Eagle credit cards aren't that spectacular, especially when you consider that the company runs frequent promotions and discounts anyway.
Customer service may be hit or miss. American Eagle credit cards are handled through Synchrony Bank (formerly GE Capital Retail Bank), a credit card company that provides private-label credit cards for stores throughout the U.S. Synchrony Bank tends to get negative reviews — it currently has a 1-star average rating at ConsumerAffairs.com from customers who say its outsourced customer service department doesn't resolve problems efficiently or effectively.
Alternative Cards Worth Looking Into
There are a few other options you should consider before deciding whether an American Eagle credit card is right for you.
Other store cards. Compared to other retailers, the AEO Credit Card performs well. Nat Berman at Money Inc writes:
"The AEO store card has better benefits and more rewards than other merchant-issued cards. For AEO shoppers, the eventual savings should more than cover the interest paid."
Again, though, this is only true if you play to pay your balance in full every month.
AE Rewards. Oddly enough, one of the most compelling alternatives to both of the American Eagle credit cards is the store's own loyalty program, AE Rewards, which is completely separate from the credit card's Extra Savings program. AE Rewards is available to all customers, not just cardholders.
The AE Rewards program earns you points on purchases made at any American Eagle brand or online store, regardless of the payment method used. These points can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases; the amount of the discount depends on how much money you spend over a three-month period. American Eagle cardholders are automatically enrolled in this program, but you do not need to be an American Eagle cardholder to enroll in the AE Rewards program.
Let's say you spend $250 over the course of three months month at American Eagle or Aerie stores. With the credit card, you'll earn a $10 Extra Savings Pass. With the AE Rewards loyalty program, you'll earn a discount of 20% off your next purchase.
While you'll earn the most rewards by taking advantage of both programs, the potential benefits of the AE Rewards program are pretty appealing on their own—customers can earn deep discounts without the risk of racking up credit card debt.
Traditional rewards cards. While earning the equivalent of 4% on purchases at American Eagle brands may be enticing, keep in mind those purchases probably don't make up the bulk of your monthly budget. Chances are, you'll earn more cash back—at a much faster rate—by applying for any traditional card that rewards your biggest monthly expenses, like gas or dining.
Say you spend an average of $50 a month at American Eagle and an average of $100 per month on gas. In five months, you'll spend $250 at American Eagle and $500 on gasoline. Here's how the rewards breakdown:
- With an American Eagle Visa card, you'll earn a $10 Extra Savings Pass on your AEO purchases. (The five points earned from the $500 spent on gas is not enough to earn an additional Extra Savings Pass.)
- With a traditional rewards card like the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you'll earn 3% cash back on gas purchases ($15) plus 1% back on your AEO purchases ($2.50) for a total of $17.50.
Even if you're a frequent AEO shopper, unless you spend the majority of your money at AEO each month—and not on gas or groceries or travel—you're likely to earn rewards faster with a traditional credit card.
Biggest Consumer Complaints
Complaints about American Eagle credit cards typically boil down to two key issues:
You may be limited in how you can use your rewards. The ability to combine discounts seems to be hit or miss, which means when American Eagle or Aerie are running in-store promotions—which is often—you may not be able to use your rewards. While some customers have successfully stacked discounts, the credit card's terms of service state that Extra Savings Passes cannot be combined with other promotions. And an unhappy customer wrote at ConsumerAffairs.com, "I was remarked to by a manager that I would have to buy full-priced items to use my [rewards] coupon."
Customer service is inconsistent. Many customers complain that billing issues weren't resolved quickly over the phone, and late fees and interest charges piled up while they waited for billing mistakes to be corrected. One reviewer at ConsumerAffairs.com complained that their account was unexpectedly closed shortly after they opened it: "They pressure me every time I walk into the store to get a credit card. So I finally get one with a $300 limit on it. Then they take it away a few months later because I was not using it and said my credit score went down…I will tell everyone not to get their card. Very bad customer service."
The AEO Credit Card overview
American Eagle offers a store card that is valid only at AEO retail locations and the online store. For customers with bad credit, or those who are trying to build their credit history, the store card is typically a bit easier to qualify for than the Visa card. "If you have had credit problems in the past or don't have any credit history, you have a better chance of getting the store card than you would with any other rewards credit card," says Majaski.
Easy application. The application can be filled out online, and the AEO Credit Card is accessible to customers who are still building or repairing their credit history.
Lower limits. The AEO store credit card typically has a low credit limit, which might not sound like much of a perk—but if you've had problems with credit card debt in the past, it can help you avoid racking up a huge debt.
Shopping rewards. If you shop at American Eagle or Aerie often, the AEO Credit Card lets you earn points for your purchases.
Signup discount. You'll get 15% off your first purchase once you're approved.
Birthday coupons. Cardholders receive a 20% off birthday discount as long as their account is in good standing.
Extra Savings Program. While most credit card reward programs earn points for every dollar spent, American Eagle's Extra Savings program works a bit differently:
- Customers earn 1 point for every $25 spent at American Eagle (in-store or online).
- When you accrue 10 points, you'll receive a $10 gift card applicable toward a future purchase.
APR. The AEO Credit Card has an annual percentage rate of 25.74%.
Late payments. If you miss a payment, the late fee is up to $35.
Annual fee. There is none! And you won't have to worry about cash advance fees or foreign transaction fees either—those features aren't available with the store card.
If you crunch the numbers on their Extra Savings Program, it means customers earn the equivalent 4% back on purchases at American Eagle stores—pretty sweet for a store card. ElitePersonalFinance.com named it one of the best clothing store credit cards, noting, "It comes with a ton of rewards that create tremendous savings for anyone who shops at American Eagle at least a few times a year."
The AEO Visa Card overview
The American Eagle Visa card is similar to the store card, but with a few additional benefits for customers with a solid credit history.
Flexibility. Unlike the American Eagle store Credit Card, which is limited to purchases at American Eagle and Aerie, the American Eagle Visa card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted—even overseas.
Rewards. With the AEO Visa Card, you'll earn rewards even when you're shopping outside the American Eagle brand (more on that below).
Signup discount. Get 15% off your first purchase after approval.
Birthday coupons. Pay your bills on time, and you'll be rewarded with a 20% coupon on your birthday.
Extra Savings Program. The AEO Visa Card has an edge here—in addition to earning 1 point for every $25 spent at American Eagle brands, you'll also receive 1 point for every $100 spent elsewhere. And, again, when you accrue 10 points, you'll get a $10 gift card applicable toward a future purchase.
The usual Visa perks. Like most Visa cards, the AEO Visa offers cash advances and insurance coverage for car rentals.
APR. While the Visa Card has a lower APR than the AEO Credit Card, it's only slightly lower at 24.74%.
Cash advance fees. Cash advances are subject to a steep 27.74% APR, along with a cash advance fee of 3% of the advance (minimum $10).
Foreign transaction fees. The AEO Visa can be used overseas, which is great in a travel emergency—but there's a 3% fee on every transaction, so if you travel often, it's worth looking for a card that doesn't charge fees for use overseas.
Late payments. If you miss a payment, the late fee is up to $35.
Annual fee. None! Just like the store card, the AEO Visa Card doesn't charge an annual fee.
Overall, the Visa card provides a bit more flexibility, but you'll need a stronger credit score to qualify. Nat Berman at MoneyInc writes, "the American Eagle Visa card is more difficult to get, typically requiring a credit score in at least the mid 600s." If your credit score is strong enough to get approved, you're also likely to be eligible for a traditional rewards card with much better perks.
American Eagle's website, app, and digital services
There are a few ways for American Eagle credit cardholders to connect digitally with AEO. Your American Eagle Visa or American Eagle store credit card account can be accessed and online payments can be made through a link from the store website. Customers can sign up for text notifications or an email list to receive discounts and sale alerts. And the AEO|Aerie app, available for Apple and Android devices, enhances the shopping experience with a few cool features:
Product recommendations. Customers can upload a photo of any outfit they like, and the app will recommend a similar style available at AEO or Aerie stores.
Easy checkout. The checkout process offers the option to pay by snapping a photo of your credit card—helpful if you hate typing in your credit card number every time you order.
Store locator. A quick click enables you to find in-stock items at American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie stores near you and reserve the items in-store.
A fun playlist. Want the full experience of shopping in-store, even if you're on your couch? The app lets you stream the in-store playlist over your phone.
According to Leo Sun at The Motley Fool, more than one-quarter of AEO's revenue comes from its digital channels:
"This can likely be attributed to the strength of its AEO app, which offers innovative features like AEO Radio, mix and match options for Aerie, a Snap & Scan feature which matches photos of clothes with similar in-store styles, and collections organized by hashtags."
However, these features aren't exclusive to American Eagle cardholders—any customer can use the app. And while the app definitely makes it easier to spend money at American Eagle and Aerie, it currently doesn't offer any features that help with managing your credit card or monitoring your account.
How to Apply
If you're interested in opening an AEO Visa Card or AEO Credit Card, you can fill out an application online or in-store. Keep in mind you'll be applying for the AEO Visa Card; if you're not approved, you'll be considered for the AEO Credit Card.
When you apply, you'll be asked to choose between an American Eagle design and an Aerie card design, though both cards have the same benefits. You'll also be asked to provide the following information:
- Contact information, including name, address, phone number, and email address
- Your annual net income
- How long you've lived at your current address
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Mother's maiden name
The issuing bank will check your credit before approving your credit card, but if your credit is less-than-stellar, don't worry—if you're not approved for the Visa card, you may still be considered for the store card.
Closing An Account
If you no longer wish to use your American Eagle credit card, you can close your account by calling the customer service number or sending a letter to the address on your statement. There is no penalty for closing your account, but keep in mind that you'll be held responsible for paying any balance you still owe.
Q: Which American Eagle credit card should I apply for?
When you fill out an application, you'll automatically be considered for the AEO Visa Card. If your credit is shaky, or you're still building your credit history, you may be considered for the AEO Credit Card instead.
Q: Can you use American Eagle credit cards anywhere?
The AEO Credit Card can only be used at American Eagle brands, including AEO Factory stores, Aerie, and online. The AEO Visa Card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.
Q: Is there an annual fee for American Eagle credit cards?
No, there is no annual fee for the AEO Credit Card or the AEO Visa Card.
Q: Will American Eagle run a credit check when I apply?
Yes, your credit card application is subject to a credit check before approval. Typically, the credit requirements for the American Eagle store credit card have a bit more wiggle room than the requirements for the Visa card.
Q: What can my Extra Savings Passes be used for?
Extra Savings Passes are valid for merchandise from American Eagle stores, Aerie stores, AEO Factory stores, and online purchases at the American Eagle website. Extra Savings Passes cannot be used to purchase gift cards, cannot be combined with other promotional offers, and cannot be applied toward your American Eagle credit card balance.
Q: How do I check my credit card balance?
You can check your account balance, pay your bill, and manage your account through the store's website.
Q: How can I pay my bill?
Payments can be made online, or you can mail a check to the address on your billing statements. Payments must be received by 5 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the due date. You can make partial or additional payments at any time during the billing cycle without incurring prepayment penalties.
Q: Can I use my AEO Visa Card overseas?
The AEO Visa Card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the United States.
There are a few reasons to think twice before signing up for an American Eagle credit card:
The APR is significantly higher than the national average.
If you carry a balance on your card, those high-interest rates can quickly cancel out any rewards you've earned.
American Eagle often offers appealing sales, coupons, and discounts to all of its customers — which means many of the card's biggest perks are available without risking credit card debt.
The biggest rewards are earned on purchases at American Eagle brands — so if you're not a frequent American Eagle customer, you'd be better off with a card that rewards you where you do shop frequently.
But it's important to note that these pitfalls are common among store credit cards—they certainly aren't unique to the American Eagle credit cards. If your credit history keeps you from getting approved for a traditional credit card, a store card can give you a little extra buying power and the ability to build your credit history and boost your credit score.
And for loyal customers, both cards offer reliable access to perks, discounts, and exclusive sales. If you shop at AEO brands frequently, these could add up to significant savings—just make sure you pay your bills in full, and on time every month so the high-interest rates don't negate your savings.
Interested in a clothing store credit card? Or just a lover of fashion? It may be worth checking out these other reviews:
Do you have an American Eagle credit card? What is it about the card that you love (or hate)? Or maybe you're just a Dawson's Creek fan? Let us know in the comments below.