Maybe it's HGTV fever. Perhaps it's the hordes of DIY boards on Pinterest. Or the fact that you can order a new couch and have it delivered to your home without ever having to get up from your current couch. Whatever way you put it, Americans are buying furniture—and lots of it.
According to a 2016 report from the Fung Business Intelligence Centre, the U.S. furniture industry was valued at an estimated $96.4 billion in 2014. And, the industry is expected to enjoy a 2.9% growth each year through 2019.
Indeed, that's a lot of sectional sofas and coordinating end tables. The report also mentions that millennials—now the largest consumer group—increased their furniture spending by a whopping 142% between 2012 and 2014 alone.
The great thing about the home decor trend is that you can fill your home or freshen it up on any budget (and with bad credit or good credit). Plus, if you want (and can afford) the really expensive stuff, it's out there. But if your tastes change every few years, or if you have pets or kids that tend to destroy your furniture, chances are good you'll want to keep your home decor on a tight budget.
History of Ashley Furniture
Enter Ashley Furniture, which sells everything from dining room tables to living room sectionals to bedroom sets (including mattresses).
Carlyle Weinberger established the Ashley Furniture Corporation in Chicago in 1945 to help consumers make their homes beautiful on a budget. In 1982, it merged with Arcadia Furniture to become Ashley HomeStore. Ashley HomeStore grew in leaps and bounds over the next two decades. In 2005, it hit 200 stores. That number grew to 300 in 2007, when itsurpassed Walmart to become the top seller in furniture and bedding.
In 2011, Ashley announced its consumer financing program agreement with Synchrony Bank via its Ashley Advantage credit card. This was a smart move, since nearly half (46 percent) of home furnishings cardholders only purchase furniture when a retailer offers financing, according to Synchrony Financial's 2015 Major Purchase Consumer Study.
Making it easier for consumers to afford to pad their new place paid off. In 2014, Ashley HomeStore opened its 500th store. The following year, the company got into e-commerce, giving consumers the choice to shop in store or online. There are now more than 600 Ashley HomeStores located across the globe.
The Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card, which can only be used in an Ashley store or online at AshleyHomeStore.com, offers special financing via deferred interest and no money down, enabling consumers to get the furniture they want now and pay for it later with flexible terms that depend on credit worthiness and credit approval.
3 things you should know about the Ashley Furniture credit card
- When you open a credit card with Ashley, and use it to buy furniture totaling $1,499 or more, you'll have up to 48 months to pay off your card balance interest-free.
- Cardholders will receive exclusive offers in the mail—after all, the company wants you to come back and keep using that card! In addition to advance notice of upcoming sales, you'll also receive a discount of between 5% and 25%, depending on your purchase amount. A $3,000+ purchase on your Ashley Furniture credit card, for example, can earn you 25% off.
- Usually, a down payment is required for furniture, but if you opt for Ashley Furniture's credit card, you can skip it. And, you'll likely get the furniture delivered well before the first payment is due.
If you're planning to decorate a new home in the near future, but don't have the means to lay out for all of that furniture at once, the Ashley Furniture credit card may be a good bet. Read on to learn more about Ashley and this credit offering.
Ashley Furniture's competition
Bob's Discount Furniture is the closest competitor to Ashley Furniture. It, too, offers attractive and affordable furniture for your home—and a lease-to-own financing option that allows you to finance your furniture without signing up for a new credit card.
IKEA is also a perennial favorite with DIY warriors. The store is well-known for assemble-it-yourself pieces, though there are enough clever hacks out there to make that process a bit easier. IKEA also offers a credit card with flexible financing options. However, the no-interest term is only 55 days as opposed to at least six months with Ashley.
Raymour & Flanigan is another competitor in the field, offering attractive furniture and a number of flexible financing options depending on your credit worthiness.
When it comes to outpacing the competition in the furniture world, it's all about access and style preference. Simply put, if you've got a Bob's right in your town and Ashley is an hour away, you might go with Bob's, particularly if you want to see furniture in person before you buy it.
Of course, if you're feeling lucky, or perhaps have already seen the furniture or mattress in question, you can purchase online. More and more furniture stores are allowing this option for customers to keep up with game-changers like Wayfair and Joss & Main.
Couch for couch, furniture stores are about even when it comes to financing—many of them offer low to no interest financing for years at a time.
When it comes down to it, it's all about your style preference. So if you don't feel like putting your furniture together yourself, and if you prefer the end tables at Ashley over Bob's, your decision is made.
What do people love about Ashley Furniture?
People love shopping at Ashley Furniture because it's a one-stop-shop for all of your home furniture and décor needs. Now that mattresses are part of the offerings as well, many consumers find it even easier to include Ashley Furniture in their plans for turning a house into a home.
Stylish decor on a budget. Customers appreciate that when they buy at Ashley, they don't have to go to interior design school or have a certificate in staging to choose attractive furniture pieces for their homes. Fodder from Federal Way, WA, had this to say on the City-Data forum: "I have purchased quite a few things from Ashley over the years (both in California and Florida) and have always been pleased with the overall value received. And yes, the salespeople can make you a better deal than the listed price—I have even been able to purchase below the supposed 'sale' price."
Flexible financing. For many homebuyers and renters, even discounted furniture can remain out of reach. That's why the Ashley Furniture credit card's flexible financing options were so helpful—they enable buyers to decorate and furnish their space now and pay for it over time.
The Ashley Furniture credit card allows you to "choose from some seriously great financing offers," writes Tiffany Raiford on the SheBudgets.com blog. Combine attractive financing with special sales during Christmas and other holidays to save even more money, she says. "You can use your card to buy your sales items now and save money rather than waiting to buy them later and not getting the sales that are offered during the holidays."
What do people hate about Ashley Furniture?
The word is out about Ashley Furniture's customer service and inconsistent quality, and that word, unfortunately, would be "horrendous" from many.
Unhelpful customer service. There's a multitude of single-star reviews that range from poor customer service to problems with delivery to issues with the furniture and home decor items themselves.
Poor quality. While even those who were unhappy with the furniture from Ashley admitted that it was stylish and affordable, some detractors said that you get what you pay for. In this case, not much when it comes to quality.
Furniture to Your Door blogger Simon Todd wrote, "Most of Ashley furniture has little, if any, solid wood. Some of it is quite stylish and could be considered for light use as accent pieces. The prices are very affordable, but may not be a great value due to the short-lived use of the furniture."
High interest rate. Among the top complaints about the Ashley Furniture credit card were its very high interest rate and lack of rewards. As Reddit user "txholdup" advised another Ashley Furniture cardholder, "A credit line with a 29.99% rate is not a credit line you should keep. The Synchrony account also offers no cash back and no other benefits for keeping it."
Ashley Advantage Credit Card by Synchrony
No matter whether you're purchasing a new mattress and bedding or furniture or rugs, the Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card is designed to make it easy for you to shop now and pay later.
0% interest. This deferred interest deal extends to the life of the applicable finance term. For example, if you bought a dining room set for $3,400, you can qualify for up to 48 months of special financing. That will save you hundreds of dollars on interest charges. Additionally, there are other discounts and exclusive coupons available for cardholders, depending on your purchase amount:
- 25% off $3,000
- 20% off $2,000+
- 15% off $1,000+
- 10% off $500+
- 5% off up to $499
No money down. Financing your purchase with the Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card means you won't have to pony up a down payment for your furniture purchase.
Payment insurance. If you are worried about missing a payment (and you should be—more on that later), you can enroll in the company's Card Security system. You pay $1.66 per $100 of your balance to ensure you won't get penalized for missing payments due to unemployment, hospitalization, or other eligible reasons.
The Ashley Furniture credit card boasts 0% interest (but it skyrockets to 29.99% if you miss a payment). Otherwise, the terms are as follows:
- 6-12 months: no minimum purchase, can be combined with other discounts
- 12 months: no minimum purchase, not able to be combined with other discounts
- 24 months: $999+ minimum purchase
- 36 months: $1,499+ minimum purchase
- 48 months: $2,499+ minimum purchase
(There is currently a 72-month term for Tempur-Pedic brand mattress purchases of $1,999+, but no discount is included.)
There is no fee if you pay the minimum payment every month. If you miss a payment, a $35 late fee will be incurred.
Credit lines vary depending on your creditworthiness.
Strengths of the card
The Ashley Furniture credit card enables you to buy the furniture you've been longing for now—and pay it off later, often without interest (if you follow the rules carefully and pay off your bill in full before the 0% interest offer ends).
Here's what experts and consumers liked best about the Ashley Furniture credit card:
No money down. Apply for the Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card, and you get to skip the down payment for your furniture.
Deferred interest. When you pay the minimum payment each month, you get to skip the interest (zero interest varies based on purchase amount—we'll get into that later).
You don't need stellar credit. If you are building or repairing your credit, this card can help. Ryan S., a commenter on the Better Business Bureau forum, praises Synchrony, the bank behind the Ashley Furniture credit card and others, with helping to improve his credit score from the 600s to the mid 700s.
"This bank helped me increase my credit score while giving me a chance not many other banks will. Their customer service is great and understanding, and they are knowledgeable about the accounts and willing to help in any way they can. I am more than happy with Synchrony Bank and will hopefully be doing many more years of business with them."
Payment security. To avoid being penalized for missing a payment, you can enroll in the company's Card Security program. You'll pay $1.66 per $100 of your balance. Be aware that you'll need an eligible reason for missing your payment, such as unemployment or hospitalization. "I forgot" won't cut it.
Weaknesses of the card
No credit card is perfect. Suffice it to say, there are a couple of drawbacks to the Ashley Furniture credit card.
Limited usage. You can only use your Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card at Ashley Furniture.
No points. The 0% interest is arguably the best reason to open the card, but with so many cash back and points-based credit cards out there, the Ashley Furniture credit card's no-interest deal may not be your best bet if you can afford to pay off the bill in full.
High APR. If you miss a payment, get ready to be slammed with major interest on the total balance, not just the remainder of it. Indeed, as writer Chris Mettler explains in a review on CompareCards.com, "the major downside is the deferred interest." All of a sudden, that inexpensive home office just got really expensive! For example, let's say you spent $1,200 on a new bedroom set and pay $100 each month toward your credit card bill. If you miss even one payment during the promotional period, you'll be charged a whopping 29.99% (the highest interest rate credit card issuers are allowed to charge) dating back from the date of purchase.
Biggest consumer complaints about Ashley Furniture credit card
As with any purchase, be sure to read the fine print about the Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card. In many cases, consumers misunderstand the terms of their financing options.
In some cases, even when you're a good cardholder, things don't always go according to plan.
Credit score drops. Once you pay off the balance on your Ashley Furniture credit card, the company may close the card, which will decrease the amount of credit available to you and cause your credit score to drop. William of San Antonio, TX, wrote this about his experience with a Synchrony card (used at another furniture store): "Literally as soon as we paid the balance to 0, they turned the card off, which caused our credit score to drop significantly."
The card may have been closed due to inactivity. To prevent issues such as these, we recommend signing up to manage your credit card online so you'll have access to your account's activity 24/7.
Late fees. Several consumers griped about being charged unexpected fees, such as a $35 late fee despite sending in the payment on time. Lester of Jonesborough, Tennessee, complained about issues he has with credit cards backed by Synchrony Bank. "It never fails that I make every payment but still incur late charges because I was a day early with my payment," he writes. "Their customer service is unable to adjust the payment so that it covers the intended billing period. I hate being penalized for being early with my payment, and they should have the ability to make those adjustments. I'll never do business with them, or any business that uses them, in the future."
Climbing interest rates. Those who didn't read the fine print were shocked to see the interest rate climb from 0% to 29.99% after the promotional period ended—a rate that Eric of Henderson, Nevada, referred to as a "loan shark 30 percent" (he was rounding up). He adds: "Lies and deception are probably included in their training manual. Good luck. This phrase 'Buyer Beware' usually only to buying used cars, but it's a shame [it also] applies to this business."
Confusion about which card they were approved for. While Ashley doesn't publicize this much, those whose credit scores are too low to qualify for the Ashley card backed by Synchrony Bank may instead be offered the option of signing up for The Genesis Credit Account, which is issued by First Electronic Bank. The Genesis Credit Account offers different rates, fees, and terms than the Ashley Furniture credit card, so be sure to confirm which card you qualify for before signing the dotted line.
Ashley Furniture website
The rise of online home retailers like Wayfair and Joss & Main are changing the landscape of how people decorate their homes, so now it's quite the norm to be able to furnish your home without leaving your home.
With the Ashley Furniture HomeStore website, you can purchase items online and have them shipped directly to you. Create an account on the Ashley website so that you can access express checkout, save shopping lists, and review your order history.
Should you choose to open a credit line with Ashley Furniture, you can create an online account and sign up for paperless statements, and pay your credit card bill. You will also have the ability to sign up for automatic payments so that you don't miss a payment and incur the aforementioned 29.99% in interest fees.
Getting Started With Ashley Furniture
You can apply for the Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card online. However, we advise you to apply for the account only at the point of purchase, whether online or in store.
One thoroughly ticked off customer opened an Ashley account online. She went shopping at the retail store in her town, only to discover that the store didn't accept that particular Ashley card.
As mentioned earlier, Ashley stores encourage those who do not qualify for the Ashley card from Synchrony Bank to sign up for The Genesis Credit Account. Double check before you apply, or else you may incur a hard inquiry on your credit report for nothing.
How to close your account with Ashley Furniture
After you send that final payment, it's advisable you close your Ashley Furniture card due to its high APR. There's only one reason you would want to keep it open: if it's the only credit card you have.
That's because when you close a credit card, your credit utilization is lowered. So if you have a $3,000 limit on your Ashley card, which happens to be your only card, guess what happens when you close it? Your credit line diminishes to zero.
A Reddit user by the name of "Cripzy Chicken" had this to say about the card: "If there is no fee on the card, just leave it alone and let it age on your account."
Of course, if the Ashley card is one of a few cards in your wallet, you can (and should) close it once it's paid off. Just call the number on the back of the card to do so.
The verdict on the Ashley Furniture credit card
If you agree with the following statements, applying for an Ashley Furniture credit card could be a good fit for you:
- I need to buy a lot of furniture.
- I'm building/rebuilding my credit.
- I can pay the minimum payment each month on time without fail.
- I don't mind taking a lot of time to pay off a balance.
- I am buying furniture that will last longer than it takes to pay for it in full.
If you have good credit, there are many credit cards available that offer perks that offset double-digit APRs. So when a card's only benefit is 0% interest financing, it's not enough for us to rush to apply. Considering that, an Ashley Furniture credit card would probably not be a good fit for you if you agree with the following statements:
- I can pay off the balance in far less time than the Ashley financing terms.
- The cash back or travel points I will earn using a different card are more valuable than flexible financing.
- The furniture I'm buying isn't worth the extra ding I will receive on my credit report (when you apply for a credit card, your credit score can temporarily drop because it indicates you may be going through some financial issue—typically something you shouldn't worry too much about).
Before you open an Ashley Advantage Synchrony Bank credit card, determine how many months it will take you to pay off the balance. While you may not pay any interest for a number of months, you won't get any points, cash back, or other rewards. Some cards—like the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card—offers both introductory low-interest rates AND rewards, which is why they should be considered over the Ashley Furniture card. Typically, if you can pay off the balance within six to 12 months, the interest you pay is likely worth the points you'll receive.
Q. Can you combine the Ashley Furniture credit card's special financing offer with any discounts?
Q. How long do I have to pay off my purchase?
It depends on your balance. The higher the balance, the longer you have to pay—up to 72 months.
Q. Are there any perks to using the Ashley Furniture card?
Not beyond the initial discount and 0% APR. This is not a frequent flyer or cash back card, so don't expect any bonuses for continued use of the card.
Q. What happens if I miss a payment?
Please don't. If you do, the interest will go from 0% to 29.99%, plus any late fees. Oh, and here's the kicker: The interest gets slapped onto the original purchase price, not the balance. So if you're getting close to paying off your balance but are late with a payment, you'll get penalized big time.
Q. What credit score do I need for the Ashley Furniture credit card?
You don't need a stellar score to qualify. Many people report getting approved for it with a score in the 600s and even high 500s.
Q. Will this show up on my credit report?
Yes. Even though it's not a major credit card like MasterCard, Visa, or American Express, the Ashley Furniture card is still extending you a line of credit, which will appear on your credit report.
Q. I'm confused—is the Ashley Furniture credit card backed by Genesis or Synchrony Bank?
There are actually two different credit cards for which you can qualify when you visit an Ashley Furniture store. The one we are reviewing here is the Ashley card backed by Synchrony Bank. However, those with bad credit may not qualify for this card and may instead be offered the option of signing up for The Genesis Credit Account, which is issued by First Electronic Bank.
The Genesis Credit Account offers different rates, fees, and terms than the Ashley Furniture credit card, so be sure to confirm which card you qualify for before signing the dotted line.
Q. Does the 0% interest financing mean I don't have to pay anything during the promotional period?
No, you will still be required to pay a minimum interest charge as part of your monthly payment. Also, you will need to pay off the entire balance in full before the end of the promotional period. If you don't, you will be charged interest fees of up to 29.99% dating back to the day you first bought the furniture (even if it wasn't delivered for weeks).