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Gap Credit Card Review 2017

Everything you need to know about the Gap credit card

The Verdict

If you're someone who loves clothes from the Gap and wants to earn cash rewards to use toward purchases (without having to pay an annual fee), then this card is a good fit for your wallet.

There are two different card versions: The GapCard, for use only in Gap Inc. brand stores, and the Gap Visa Card, which can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

Another plus is that since Gap also owns the popular chains Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta (an activewear line), you can use your Gap card to earn points at those locations as well. But you can only redeem any rewards at Gap.

Both cards are offered through Synchrony Bank, and the terms and conditions are the same, including the 25.99% APR.

The key to maximizing either card is to like Gap fashion enough so that you're buying three or so wardrobe pieces (which costs in the $100 range) every couple of months.

And to pay your bill in full so interest doesn't accrue

Money spent on clothes.

That's because you'll earn $5 for every $100 you spend.

If you reach $1,000 in purchases within a year, you'll be upgraded to Silver Status, which offers extra benefits.

If you're not a loyal Gap shopper, you can probably find better rewards and a lower APR by applying for a non-store branded Visa card.

This Gap credit card review contains all the information you'll need to make the best card decision for you.

Main Competition

The Gap credit card competes with many other fashion retail cards, so choose the one where you shop the most.

Many large clothing chains also have retail card programs like the one at Gap.

For the most part, the Gap credit card shares similar qualities to most store cards:

  • A tantalizing first-purchase discount
  • Rewards points based on in-store purchases
  • A high APR, costing you if you don't pay off that balance.

Still, there are some differences.

When compared to one of its fellow retail brands, J.Crew, for example, (also popular with the jeans, button-down, and chino-wearing crowd), you can see some areas in which the Gap credit card reigns supreme.

Just so you know, we opted not to compare the Gap credit card to Banana Republic's or Old Navy's cards since they are all owned by Gap, Inc., and their reward structures are very similar in nature.

How GapCard's everyday discount outshines J.Crew's card

Gap Credit Card J. Crew Card
How high of credit score do you need? >600 >640
Annual fee $0 $0
Average APR? 25.99% for both cards 25.99%
How big of sign-up bonus do you get? 20% off and free shipping on first purchase 15% off first purchase
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? $100 spent at Gap brand stores = 500 points, worth $5 in rewards $25 for every $500 spent at J. Crew
How many points do you get for every dollar?

5 points for every $1 spent in Gap brand stores

1 point for every $1 wherever Visa is accepted (for the Visa version)

With Silver Status (after you spend $1,000), you'll also get a 20% quarterly bonus, so if you earned 500 points in a quarter, you'll get an additional 100 points tacked on

1 point for every $1
Any restrictions? Rewards can only be used at Gap stores Rewards can only be used at J.Crew stores
If you spent $100, how much will points translate to in real dollars? $5 $5 (but you cannot redeem rewards until you reach $500 spent, at which time, you'll collect a $25 reward)

Here are 3 other "non-store" rewards cards to consider:

If you're all about rewards but want more flexible redemption options (and more favorable terms overall), then you'll want to look beyond co-branded store cards.

The Citi Double Cash Card is a solid flat-rate cash-back card. The Citi Double gives you 1% cash back on purchases, and 1% when you pay it off. Plus, it offers the best balance transfer offer on the market, with 18 months of zero interest.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers easy redemption if you prefer to save on travel. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent, and a huge sign-up bonus worth $400 if you spend enough to qualify.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday card gives you cash back for everyday spending. You'll earn 3% at US supermarkets, 2% at US gas stations, and 1% everywhere else. Plus, you'll get nice consumer protections and travel benefits.

Question: Where Can I Use My Rewards?

Although you can earn 5x points by shopping at Gap brands, including Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Store, Old Navy, and Athleta, you can only redeem rewards at Gap stores and Gap online.

Likewise, the 10% discount for cardholders only applies in Gap stores.

That means if you end up signing up for the card, the best way to maximize your rewards is only swiping it at Gap affiliates, amass your rewards, and then use them at Gap itself.

Strengths

The GapCard is strong because of the everyday discount perk.

Cardholders definitely get more automatic perks than the average Gap shopper.

Save 10% every day. The best feature of the Gap Credit Card is the 10% discount every time you use your card at Gap stores.

This promotion used to be just for shopping on Tuesdays, but the current everyday promotion runs through December 31, 2017.

Average percentage of population shopping by the time of day

Cardholders get better coupons. "Gap frequently releases coupon codes that any customer can use—many in the range of 30% to 40% off," points out Sarah Jones of DealNews.com.

However, Gap Credit Card cardholders usually get their own exclusive code, which is worth an extra 5% to 10% more off the purchases than non-cardholders get.

Plus, Jones adds, cardholder coupons and rewards are generally flexible, allowing shoppers to stack them with other promotions.

Just be sure to read the fine print because exclusions will apply in some cases.

Good for credit building. If you are just starting to establish or rebuild your credit, you will probably qualify for the GapCard (rather than the Visa version).

"If you're a frequent Gap shopper, we'd recommend it over a secured credit card, simply because of the rewards and lack of an annual fee or security deposit," Kevin of CreditShout.com.

Extra chances to earn. Remember, if your kids like Old Navy or your spouse prefers the Banana Republic, you can use your GapCard to earn points at those retail shops as well.

Weaknesses

The GapCard card is weak when used as an everyday card, or if you carry a balance.

There's no doubt that the store rewards are solid for Gap lovers, but by using it for other purchases, you could be leaving better benefits on the table.

Stronger rewards abound. In short, the Gap Visa card is not a very strong primary credit card, says Robert Harrow. "For all other purchases, there are many solid cash back credit cards that can give you significantly better savings," he explains.

Watch that balance. "The high-interest rates will quickly reduce or reverse any savings you may gain in the form of points or discounts," writes Brendan Harkness of CreditCardInsider.com.

American families and credit card debt

In other words, if you don't typically pay your bill in full, this card is not for you.

Redemption is only at Gap. Sure, you can earn points shopping at Athleta or even on grocery purchases if you use the Gap Visa card, but the rewards that follow can only be used at Gap stores.

The same goes for that awesome 10% off, which is only good at the Gap.

Who the Card Is For

You should get the Gap credit card if Gap clothes rule your closet.

People who shop at the Gap family of stores - buying at least 2-3 $100-outfits once per season- benefit the most from this card. "Especially those who qualify for the silver upgrade," says Matt Danielsson of Investopedia.com.

To see if that's you, start by answering the questions below:

  • Do you do a lot of shopping in Gap brand stores? You'll have to spend $100 to earn $5 back, and $1,000 to reach Silver status, which brings with it other perks (more details below).
  • Can you commit to not carrying a balance so you're not hit with high-interest charges?
  • Is your credit in the fair range, with scores in the 600s or above?

The qualifying criteria are more strict for the Gap Visa Card than it is for the GapCard, says Taylor Gordon of MagnifyMoney.com

"You may get approved for the Visa card if your credit score is in the good or excellent range (a score of 700 or above). You may get approved for the GapCard instead if your credit score is fair (a score in the 600s)," he writes.

If you've answered yes to the questions above, the GapCard or Gap Visa may be worth exploring.

Card and Company History

The Gap was originally created to market to a forgotten generation.

The idea for the original Gap stores arose from a problem that most people can relate to: Founder Don Fisher couldn't find a pair of jeans that fit right.

He and his wife opened the first Gap store in 1969 in San Francisco, selling Levi's jeans and vinyl records to attract a young clientele.

Five years later, the Gap began creating its own fashions.

Denim market share compared to others

The desire to appeal to a younger market is also where the name Gap came from, referring to the "generation gap" that existed with other retailers.

The GapCard and Gap Visa card will work best throughout the United States.

With 3,200 company-operated stores and another 450 franchises, you can shop at Gap stores across the country, and of course, online.

The Gap Visa may be used internationally wherever Visa is accepted, however, you will pay a foreign transaction fee.

How the Card Works

The GapCard and Gap Visa credit card feature the standard offerings and features that most store cards provide.

Here are some of the key features:

Benefits

The Gap cardholders' mantra should be: Shop every couple of months to maximize the value of this card.

A savings kickoff when you open the account. Newly approved cardholders will save 20% off their first purchase at any Gap and Gap Factory brick and mortar or online store (not the affiliates).

Still, just so you have it in one place, here are all the stores you can shop at to accumulate points:

  • Gap
  • GapBody
  • babyGap
  • GapKids
  • Gap Maternity
  • Gap Outlet
  • Gap Factory Store
  • Banana Republic
  • Banana Republic Factory Store
  • Old Navy
  • Athleta (Gap's active wear line)

Savings every day. Use your GapCard and get an extra 10% off every time you shop at Gap or Gap factory stores. Note that this discount will not apply at Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, or Banana Republic Factory Stores.

Cash in on periodic perks. From birthday discounts to special bonus and sale events, there are Gap credit card benefits throughout the year.

Returns with fewer headaches. For purchases made with your Gap credit card, you don't have to freak out if you lose your receipt since you won't need it.

Rewards

Earn points, and strive for silver for bigger earnings!

Get a cash back value of 5%. For every $1 you spend at Gap stores, you'll earn 5 points. That means, if you buy jeans and a button down for $60, you'll get 300 points.

Rewards are limitless. You can earn as many points as you want but there is a maximum of $250 in rewards per billing cycle. Not to worry—leftover points do carry over to the next period.

Earn 5,000 points and achieve Silver Status. Once you spend $1,000 (which, for a family of four, would be about 2-3 outfits each) with your Gap credit card, you will get a card upgrade.

Silver Status customers get to choose their own sale day, receive free online shipping all the time, and get free alterations at Banana Republic stores.

You'll also get a 20% quarterly bonus, so if you earned 500 points in a quarter, you'll get an additional 100 points tacked on.

In other words, your rewards rate goes from 5% to 6% at Gap Stores (and from 1-1.2% everywhere else if you're using the Visa card).

Easy points that won't cost a dime. Earn 500 points when you register your e-mail address and 500 points by signing up for paperless statements — plus you'll earn two $5 gift certificates.

Interest rates, APR, and fees

Balances overpower rewards. If you carry a balance, the 25.99% APR will quickly negate any rewards you've earned.

You can cash in, but expect to pay. Gap Visa cardholders can get cash advances, but that comes with a 4% fee. Withdrawals are also limited to $400.

Caution when shopping abroad. If you plan to use your Gap Visa card in a foreign country, you'll incur a 3% fee.

Don't be late. If you miss the payment due date, the maximum late fee is $37. You'll be charged $27 for your first offense.

What People Love About It

People love this card because they live in Gap clothes.

Like most store cards, the Gap credit card doesn't exactly have great terms and conditions.

But, if you can commit to not carrying a balance and shop at the Gap frequently, you'll enjoy the extra savings and discounts that come with being a frequent customer without getting hit with fine print.

One-stop shopping (and points-earning!). Gap has something for everyone, no matter their age. Customers love that they can get attire for the whole family while earning points.

Being part of an exclusive club. Customers love the feeling of getting in on "secret" deals. They get emails letting them know when the hottest sales are going on.

3.8 billion loyalty memberships

Even shinier rewards. If you can achieve and maintain Silver Status, you'll get a bigger boost to your earnings and score additional perks like free shipping.

Biggest Consumer Complaints

The biggest consumer complaints about GapCard card center on the gap in customer service.

Customers are generally not thrilled with the level of service (or lack thereof) when they have issues or problems with their card.

The case of the missing points. It can be frustrating to make what you believe to be a qualifying purchase and then not get your rewards points; a terrible customer service experience makes the situation even worse.

"Credits for an item purchased at their store was not applied to their own card and after raising dispute and multiple follow-ups, no one is ready to listen," says a WalletHub reviewer going by the handle Vineets.

"Every time I call their customer service to follow up, I have to tell them the whole story from scratch," she adds.

Feeling misunderstood. "I have had the Gap Silver card for years and I am a pretty good customer, but every time I have a problem and I need to call Gap customer service, it is a huge disappointment," writes Marcela of San Diego, CA on the ConsumerAffairs.com website.

"I really don't understand why they are so unhelpful to their customers."

Key Digital Services

The Gap app has mixed reviews but is a handy account management tool for most.

The Gap app earns mostly five-star rating on iTunes thanks to its easy-to-navigate clothes categories, credit card account access, and up-to-date rewards information.

As one reviewer, summarizes, "I had struggled with being able to access my Gap credit card info online and this app solves it, along with an amazing shopping experience."

Google Play users, however, only give the app an average of 3.5 stars because of its frequent glitches.

Says Shirley Tiletnick,"I love this app because I can pay my bill on it and all the brands show up. But 50% of the time, it won't open. When I do get it open, it's so slow loading the pics that I might as well go to the store."

How to Sign Up for the Card

Go to the Gap website or apply in person at a store if you want the GapCard.

In order to score 20% off of your first purchase, you should apply for the card during checkout, either in stores or online.

To really maximize the discount, try to time it with a large purchase, whether it's for holiday shopping or to refresh your seasonal wardrobe.

And don't forget. When you get home, register your email address and sign up for paperless statements to earn 1000 points, worth $10.

How to Close Your Account

In order to cancel your Gap credit card, simply call customer service at 1-800-887-1198.

OR, you can send a letter to the address shown on your billing statement. Either way, you'll have to pay off any outstanding balance before you can close the card.

FAQ

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the GapCard:

  • How long does it take Gap to refund my credit card?

    If you return merchandise purchased with Rewards, the dollar value of the rewards allocated to items returned will be converted to Reward Points and credited to your account within the next two billing cycles.

  • How can I check my Gap credit card balance?

    You can go online to your account, log into the Gap app, or call customer service at 1-800-887-1198.

  • Can I pay for my Gap credit card with a gift card or a different credit card?

    Payments can be made online or sent via regular mail. Online payments must be made by 5 pm (ET) on the due date of each billing cycle.

    Gap also accepts payment over the phone, but there is a $10 fee.

    Payment forms accepted include checks, money orders, or electronic payments.

    Gift certificates and other credit cards are not accepted.

  • Can I use my Gap credit card without the card?

    If you forget your card, a store associate may be able to look up your account if you have the proper identification.

  • How can I add an authorized user to Gap credit card?

    You can add up to five authorized users online. Select "Add Authorized User" and enter their names. Cards will be sent to your address within 7-10 business days.

  • How soon can I use my Gap credit card once I receive it?

    You can begin using your Gap credit card as soon as you're approved.

  • How can I report a stolen Gap credit card?

    To report your card lost or stolen, contact our customer service department at 1-800-887-1198. Your account will be closed and you'll be issued you a new account number and card.

  • What credit score do I need to get approval for a Gap Visa card?

    While you only need fair credit to get the GapCard, to qualify for the Visa version you must have "good" credit, which is typically defined as being in the 640-719 FICO score range.

  • What credit score do I have to maintain so my GapCard account is not closed?

    The best way to keep your active open is to keep it active and in good standing. Make at least the minimum payment each month by the due date.

  • Will my credit score drop when my account gets closed?

    Your credit score can drop whenever there is a change in your total amount of available credit.

    If your Gap credit card account is closed because you didn't pay your bill, however, that negative payment activity will have a much greater impact on your credit score.

  • Does the Gap credit card report to the credit bureaus?

    Yes. The terms and conditions state that Synchrony Bank reports credit activity to the credit bureaus, though it doesn't specify which ones.

  • Can I build my credit with the Gap credit card?

    Anytime you use and make timely payments on a credit card it will activity will become part of your credit history.

Great rewards potential for the savvy Gap shopper

All in all, if you're a responsible credit user who loves Gap fashion, you will enjoy the perks and savings that come with these cards.

You're wearing Gap styles, so you might as well save. If you're stocking up on jeans, khakis, and tees anyway, why not get 5% cash back?

Discounts and bonuses galore. Cardholders enjoy bigger percentages off with exclusive discount codes, not to mention a birthday discount in the 15-20% range as well as special cardholder sales.

It's a great starter card. If your credit is spotty, choosing a store card you can maximize is a smart strategy since it's usually easy to get approval.

Plus, you'll get a taste of how rewards programs work.

What if you don't absolutely love the Gap?

Then these cards are probably not the best choice for you.

Keep looking and you're sure to find rewards cards with more favorable terms or a store card you'll actually use enough to provide you with benefits that outweigh the high-interest rate.

Do you use the GapCard?

How has the card worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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