The GapCard vs. JCPenney's Store Credit Card

Discover which one is better, the GapCard or the JCPenney store card. Learn everything you need to know about their features and benefits in this in-depth comparison review.

The Winner

The GapCard wins because of its more consistent store discounts and larger network

Comparing the credit cards of two different kinds of stores often means finding tiny differences between them, but the GapCard comes out on top thanks to a few slight advantages versus its JCPenney store counterpart.

Because they're both limited to purchasing in their respective stores and affiliates, your choice between the two would depend primarily on what type of products you are interested in.

Also, it's important to understand that these two cards target different audiences.

One of those audiences is people who may be interested in a wide array of clothing options with Gap and its associate brands like Old Navy or the Banana Republic.

The other audience would be a frequent shopper of basic clothing and appliances and toys at a department store like JCPenney.

Gap shoppers vs JcPenny shoppers

That makes this somewhat of an "apples-to-oranges" comparison.

But looking at them from a purely objective financial perspective, and assuming you could only choose one of them, the winner would have to be the GapCard.

The reasons for this include a lower APR, fewer rules on the rewards, a special 20% discount, and free shipping on your first purchase, as well as access to more stores selling a wider range of clothing options, from basic to chic.

By comparing the Gap store GapCard vs. the JCPenney store card, you will get to know which one is a better fit for your financial and shopping goals.

Why You Should Consider These Cards

Regular Gap or JCPenney shoppers will benefit most

These store cards only allow you to shop on credit at these specific stores.

(Just to be clear, we're not analyzing the Gap Visa card here, just the store card.)

The same thing is true with their benefits: They basically consist of discounts in your future purchases, which makes them attractive only if you plan to keep coming back.

The main reason to choose one or the other is if you prefer to buy repeatedly at Gap (and its network of brands) or at JCPenney.

You're the right customer for the GapCard if you want to shop for clothes at a discount

The main reason to get a GapCard is if you plan on buying clothes from its network of stores and brands over and over—whether it's for you or for your family.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you a fan of the casual-yet-expansive line of clothing at Gap, of the more upscale offerings at the Banana Republic, of the coveted sports garments at Athleta, or even of the budget offerings at Old Navy?
  • Are you a fashion lover or someone who needs to keep refreshing their wardrobe for business purposes?
  • Are you planning on making a huge purchase at Gap that would make a 20% discount an attractive amount to save?
  • Are you a shopper who's loyal to certain brands or live near Gap and affiliate brands shops?
  • Do you have a recently clean credit record and a credit score of at least 610?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, the Gap credit card is probably a good option for your shopping needs.

The JCPenney store card is for you if you can't afford other credit options and live near one of their department stores

The main reason for getting a JCPenney store card is if you are a frequent buyer at their department stores and you plan to keep buying there, to the point that the rewards system becomes useful to you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you live near enough a JCPenney department store that it's become a frequent shopping destination for you?
  • Are you looking to purchase a wide range of products over an extended period of time at JCPenney?
  • Do you have a credit score of at least 590?
  • Have you run out of other credit options?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, the JCPenney store card is probably a good option to satisfy your shopping and consumer credit needs.

The Winner's Strengths

The GapCard wins on better APR, more shopping options, better discounts, and the potential for an upgrade

The GapCard has a lower interest rate. It is not that much of a difference on the surface—a variable purchase APR of 25.74%, versus 26.99% for the JCPenney card—but that percentage point does make a difference on your bottom line.

It is important to note that both of these APRs are higher than what the average credit card offers (14.90%), but are in line with similar store credit cards.

The GapCard gives you access to a more sophisticated shopping experience. If you're seriously comparing these two cards, it's because you care about good value, quality clothing, and from that perspective, the GapCard is a winner.

Moreover, the GapCard opens you up the chance to buy clothing from a budget brand like Old Navy to higher-end names like the Banana Republic and Athleta—while JCPenney restricts you to the department store experience.

This argument can be supported just from a head-to-head of the number of stores: JC Penney has 875 stores in the US, while the stores in the Gap family add up to roughly 2,500.

The consistent 10% discount on all purchases is a sweet deal. Getting 10% off on everything you buy at the Gap, the Banana Republic, Athleta, or Old Navy‚ either separately or combining your purchases online—is one of the best benefits of the Gap credit card, which adds to the rewards system.

Net Sales of The Gap, Inc. and JCPenney 2012-2016

The 20% discount on your first purchase is nothing to be sneezed at. It is also bigger than the 15% offered by the JCPenney card.

The one-time, initial discounts are the main reason many people get these cards, often when paying for a large purchase at a physical store.

In the case of the GapCard, you get a 20% discount and free shipping on your initial purchase, savings that can get significant if you're buying for the whole season or your whole family.

The downside?

This 20% discount doesn't include purchases at the Banana Republic, Athleta, or Old Navy.

(You can combine discounts and purchases for these brands later on.)

Starting with your basic GapCard, you can open the door to a Gap Visa. There is a chance you're interested in the GapCard because you don't have credit for a regular credit card.

In that case, opening a GapCard and improving your credit by regularly using it and paying it on time can be your ticket to apply for a Gap Visa card later on.

And speaking of improving credit scores, did you know that taking out a small personal loan can actually help your credit score?

The basic GapCard (as well as the Visa) can become Silver. Qualifying for a Gap Visa card means more benefits and extra perks, including a 20% bonus on points earned every quarter, free shipping, and free clothing alterations at the Banana Republic.

The only requirement is earning 5,000 Reward Points in a calendar year and keeping your account in good standing.

People love the GapCard card for its clothing discounts

While getting points that translate into discounts at the same store may not sound like the sexiest credit card reward, people who like the Gap, the Banana Republic, Athleta, and Old Navy swear by the convenience of shopping with it.

The biggest customer complaint about the card is its customer service

Users who aired their complaints online griped about their poor customer service experience, with some customers singling out the sub-par management of their previous payment data.

Counter-Argument

The JCPenney card offers more than just clothing rewards

If you're looking for more than just clothes, JCPenney deserves a good look. This is a no-brainer: JCPenney is a department store, offering a much wider range of products, from appliances to cosmetics (it carries Sephora) and toys.

In other words, if you need to choose between these two credit cards and you want to be rewarded for purchasing items other than clothes, then the JCPenney card is for you.

The physical locations of JCPenney make their customers extremely satisfied. In spite of the closing of many locations in recent years, the 2016 survey of the American Customer Satisfaction Index put JCPenney first in customer satisfaction in the category of department and discount stores.

Closures of U.S. Department Stores 2017

As a matter of fact, JCPenney was the largest gainer in that category among its peers.

It's important to note, however, that Gap and its family of affiliate stores don't rank in this category because they are not department stores.

Still, with its better initial discount and permanent 10% discount on all purchases, the GapCard is a better option when shopping for clothes.

However, if you're looking to have one store card that will also reward you when buying appliances and other items, you should consider the JCPenney card.

How the GapCard compares to the JCPenney Store Card

GapCard JCPenney Store Card
How high of credit score do you need? >610 >590
Average APR? 25.74% 26.99%
Annual Fee? $0 $0
How big of sign-up bonus do you get? 20% discount and free shipping on first purchase 15% discount on first purchase (*there is currently a temporary 20% discount offer on limited items)
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? N/A N/A
How many points do you get for every dollar? 5 points for every $1 spent in Gap brand stores 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 1 point for every $1 spent with your JCPenney card You can only receive 2,000 points from a single purchase -- meaning if you spend $2,000 or above in a single purchase, you get no more than $100 in future discount
Any restrictions? Rewards can only be used at Gap stores and affiliates Rewards can only be used at JCPenny stores
If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars? $5 $5 (given as $10 rewards for every 200 points)
How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)? N/A N/A

Rewards and Bonuses

Both cards are basically the same when it comes to rewards

Both cards give you $5 back in savings on future purchases at their store, even if the system of delivery is a bit different.

The JCPenney card gives its rewards in prizes of $10 after you gather 1,000 points, while the GapCard does it in $5 rewards for 500 points.

The GapCard Silver status is more straightforward than JCPenney's Gold and Platinum status

With the GapCard (in in-store-only or Visa format), you get very specific benefits if you upgrade to Silver status after spending $1,000 in a calendar year.

Leading Premium Apparel Retailers Number of Stores

These benefits include an extra 20% on your points each quarter, free alterations at Banana Republic, and the choice of your own sale day.

In the case of JCPenney, you can upgrade to Gold after spending $500 in a calendar year and to Platinum if you spend $1,000.

Still, the description of the benefits of an upgrade with the JCPenney card is not very clear: "a passbook of coupons, [a] thank you gift, Sephora Inside JCPenney bonus points, and more."

In general terms, the money/discount rewards of both cards are essentially the same, but the GapCard offers clearer incentives to upgrade than its JCPenney counterpart.

Benefits

The GapCard offers zero fraud liability

These two cards do one simple job: giving you credit to buy at their respective stores while rewarding you with discounts for future purchases.

There's not much beyond that, especially if you're looking for purchase protection.

Still, the GapCard offers zero fraud liability protection for unauthorized purchases, while the JCPenney card does not.

Costs and Fees

Neither card carries fees, but keep an eye on high APRs and make sure to pay on time

Both the GapCard and JCPenney card have no opening or annual fee, so they will stay open until you decide to close them.

But the real cost of these cards is their high APR of over 25%, common for store cards, but substantially higher than the average interest for a credit card.

This means that if you start amassing debt on your card, the benefits you get from it become pointless: the cost of interest will likely negate any savings you can earn.

So keep an eye on that billing cycle if you want to make these cards worth your while.

Customer Service

Both cards are operated by Synchrony Bank

The fact that Synchrony Bank is behind these two cards makes their customer service exactly the same.

As a matter of fact, when you call their customer service numbers, you get the same recording.

There are, however, differences in customer satisfaction, especially among people who buy online from these two stores.

At sitejabber, for instance, Gap received a majority of 5-star reviews, while more than a quarter of the reviews for JCPenney gave the shopping experience 1 star.

Key Digital Services

Websites are nothing fancy

The accounts and benefits for these two cards can be managed from their respective websites, both run by Synchrony Bank.

On these websites, you can verify your purchases, pay your account balance, and check your points for both the JCPenney store card and the GapCard.

No major difference in shopping apps

Both of these stores have shopping apps available for iOS and Android platforms.

Statsitics for What Consumers Shop For Online 2017

The apps look and feel very similar, in the sense that they allow you to shop on your phone and take advantage of the benefits of the cards.

And judging by the users' reviews, JCPenney has an edge here over Gap: its app has a rating of 4.2 at the Google Play store versus one of 3.6 for its Gap counterpart.

The results are closer in the iOS versions, with an average of 5 stars for the Gap app and 4.5 for the JCPenney app at the iTunes store.

The main complaints about both apps have been about glitches, and the brands are listening, as the most recent versions of the apps are earning better reviews than their previous ones.

FAQ

  • How do I get started with the GapCard?

    If you want to apply in person, you can go to any Gap store.

    You can also apply online by visiting the company's website.

  • How do I get started with the JCPenney card?

    You can apply in person when shopping at any physical JCPenney store.

    To apply online, visit the company's website.

  • How do I cancel my GapCard?

    You can close your account by calling 1-800-642-4720.

  • How do I cancel my JCPenney card?

    You can close it by calling 1-888-527-7937.

  • How do I avoid paying interest?

    Make sure you pay before the due date arrives.

    The due date for these two cards is at least 23 days after the close of each billing cycle.

  • Is the GapCard a gift card?

    No, the GapCard is a credit card to be used in Gap stores and its affiliates, but not a gift card. You can buy a Gap gift card here.

  • Can I use Gap coupons in combination with the GapCard?

    Yes, you can use a Gap coupon when shopping with your GapCard.

    You can find all the info on Gap coupons.

  • What's the difference between the GapCard and the Target Red Card?

    These are two entirely different credit cards, to be used at their respective stores.

    The Target Red Card offers 5% discount on purchases at Target, free shipping on most items at Target.com, and other benefits.

The GapCard and the JCPenney have many similarities but frequent clothing shoppers should go with Gap

With a better introductory discount and a permanent 10% discount on all purchases, the GapCard is a must-have for all clothes shoppers.

With a wide family of other stores with more physical locations, plus a clearer path for upgrades and credit growth, the GapCard is the winner here.

Still, these cards and their in-store-discount benefits only make sense if you plan on repeatedly shopping at Gap or JCPenney.

If you're looking for cards that you can use to shop outside of these stores and with a wider range of benefits, you should look elsewhere.

Do you have the GapCard or the JCPenney credit card?

Are you satisfied with them and their customer service?

Would you recommend them?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


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