Macy's credit cards are a good deal only for hardcore Macy's fans
You may know and love Macy's from the film Miracle on 34th Street or by its iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
If Macy's is the first place you go when the holiday shopping season rolls around, chances are pretty good you've already been offered one of its cards.
But is it a good deal?
Macy's offers two branded credit cards: a basic store charge card and an American Express card.
With decent rewards and regular promotional events, the Macy's store charge card and American Express card offer lots for the retailer's most loyal fans, though the American Express is a slightly better deal if you can qualify for it.
However, the higher-than-average APR and restrictions around how you can use rewards mean this card isn't a great deal for most shoppers.
Macy's points system rewards shoppers who spend the most at Macy's, but if you carry a balance forward month-to-month, the interest charges might wipe out any rewards you earn.
People who aren't crazy for Macy's can certainly find a better rewards card deal elsewhere.
If you were planning to make a big purchase — like $2,000+, for example — at Macy's and could pay off the card within one month before interest charges kick in, then this card may be of interest.
Why You Should Consider This Credit Card
Think about this card if you have a long shopping list at Macy's
Macy's is one of the biggest and best-known department retailers in America, with over 800 stores nationwide.
It offers a wide selection of women's, men's, and children's apparel, beauty products, and home furnishings.
Like its competitors, Macy's offers a store credit card and a co-branded American Express card, both of which are issued through Department Stores National Bank.
Macy's has something else in common with its competitors, too: it's struggling to win back shoppers as consumers are increasingly shopping online.
Responding to years of complaints about a complicated rewards system, Macy's recently simplified its rewards program to better benefit its heaviest spenders.
Because the new point system rewards those who spend the most, you can really max out your rewards if you open the card right before you start your holiday shopping or before you make a big purchase, like a new bed or kitchen set.
Are you planning to do a lot of holiday shopping — and at Macy's in particular?
Will you be planning a wedding soon? Or will you need to furnish a new home?
Are you diligent in paying down your monthly balance when it comes due?
If yes, you may get a lot of benefit out of this card.
Why People Love This Card
Loyalty to Macy's comes with perks and price discounts
The most enthusiastic customer reviews praise the Macy's credit card rewards system. The shopping center is also a hot spot for newlyweds who like its wedding registry program.
Get 20% off the first two days you have the card. This bonus means you could really max out your rewards on Black Friday if you sign up and activate the card a day or two before the shopping holiday.
Rewards for newlyweds. Macy's also has a special rewards program so that customers who create a wedding registry can earn rewards for both their own purchases and the gifts that other people buy them.
Customers who enroll in Macy's Registry Star Rewards earn 10% on every eligible purchase and 5% on every eligible gift they receive from their registry.
These rewards are delivered in the form of a gift card to be used after the wedding.
Rewards for giving back. Macy's end-of-year Thanks for Sharing promotion is also especially popular.
In this promotion, if you pay $25 to enroll, you'll get 10% off all your qualifying purchases at Macy's through the month of December.
It's a good deal if you plan to spend at least $250 at Macy's in December.
Plus, the money raised through that enrollment fee benefits a number of charities, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the Children's Cancer Research Foundation.
Free shipping and birthday bonuses for Gold and Platinum members. If you spend at least $500 at Macy's on a yearly basis, then you qualify for free shipping and a special birthday offer as either a Gold or Platinum cardholder.
If you pay your balance in full every month, you can also avoid interest charges that would otherwise cancel out any benefits you earn.
Loyal fans say this is key to a good experience with the Macy's card.
Biggest Consumer Complaints
Late fees, high-interest rates, and lousy customer service
Customers frequently complain about Macy's eagerness to ding them with late fees and its higher-than-average APR.
Overzealous on the fees. Even when customers paid on time, Macy's would process the payment after its due date and charge a late fee, some customers said.
Use it or lose it. Macy's was also quick to charge inactivity fees or even close the accounts of customers who didn't use the card with much regularity.
Shoddy online bill pay. Customers complained that Macy's online bill payment system was out-of-date or slow to process payments, and some said that Macy's had totally deleted their payment information without any explanation at all.
Prepare to stay on hold. Poor customer service was another frequent complaint in online forums. Customers complained about long hold times, a confusing automated menu, and reps who ultimately couldn't help them with their problems.
Think about a cash back card before you apply for a store card
However, most retail co-branded credit cards tend to charge higher interest rates than you might get from a rewards card offered directly by an issuer.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is a very strong competitor. With no annual fee and a 1.5% cash back rate, it's one of the best in the industry.
The flexibility of cash rewards is a strength for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and a weakness for the Macy's card.
For example, if you spent $2,000 on the Chase card, you would earn at least $30 in cash to spend however you like.
With the Macy's card, Platinum members could earn $100 in rewards by spending $2,000 on the card, but there's a catch: you'd have to spend those $2,000 at Macy's and you can only use the rewards at Macy's, too.
Although many store cards, including Macy's, have no an annual fee, the restrictions on how you can earn and use your rewards mean that a cash back card might be a better deal than the Macy's card.
The only hitch is that you may need better credit (>700 credit score) to get approved for the cash back rewards card.
On the other hand, you may be able to get approved for the Macy's store card with a score around 600.
How Macy's cards compare to its top competitor
|Macy's credit cards||Chase Unlimited Freedom|
|What kind of credit score do you need?||Fair (600) for the store credit card. Good (700) for the Amex card||Generally good (660 and up)|
|Average APR?||26.24% for both||0% APR for the first 15 months; 15.99% – 24.74% after that|
|Sign-up bonus?||Earn 20% off for the first 2 days you have the account||Earn $150 after spending $500 on your card within the first 3 months of opening it.|
|How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?||No minimum purchase needed to get the sign-up bonus||Spend $500 to earn the $150 bonus, or earn a $25 bonus after adding an authorized user in the first 3 months.|
|How many points do you get per dollar?||Platinum members earn 5 points per $1 spent.||Earn 0.015 points per dollar spent, and 0.05 points per dollar spent in certain rotating categories.|
|Any restrictions?||You can only earn up to $100 in discounts, meaning it will apply to purchases up to $1,000.||No limits to how much cash back you can earn, and rewards do not expire.|
|If you spent $100 how much would the points be worth?||$5 for Platinum status||$1.50, or $5 for certain rotating categories that earn 5% cash back.|
|How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees?||You would need to spend at least $250 to make up for the Thanks for Sharing fee. Otherwise, pay your bill on time and you'll avoid fees.||This card doesn't carry an annual fee. If you pay your balance in full every month, you can also avoid interest charges.|
How do you apply for a Macy's card?
The top question for this card is related to how to apply for it.
The answer is easy: you can apply for both of Macy's credit cards online.
Be prepared to fill out personally identifiable and financial information when you apply, including your Social Security number, address, income, and mortgage or rent payment.
The company will then evaluate your application for both the store card and the American Express card and will offer you your choice of card, or just the store card.
Generally speaking, the better your credit score, the better your chances of getting approved for the American Express card, which is a slightly better deal.
You can also apply for either card in-store.
How the Card Works
The more you spend, the better the perks — if you don't carry a balance
Macy's offers two credit cards: a basic store charge card and a Macy's branded American Express cards.
Both cards carry higher APRs than regular cash back cards, but they reward frequent shoppers who pay down their balance diligently.
Compared with other store rewards cards, Macy's cards are pretty middle-of-the-pack as far as rates and fees go.
Most other store cards will also have a similar structure in terms of awarding greater benefits to members who spend more.
Your spending level determines your status. Both Macy's credit cards have three tiers of membership – Silver, Gold, and Platinum, which were previously known as Preferred, Elite, and Premier Elite.
Silver status cardholders get occasional discount passes. All new cardholders begin at Silver status and receive a red-colored card.
Silver status cardholders spend $1-$499 yearly and receive three Star Passes per year for 25% off on any day they choose.
Gold cardholders get a little extra incentive to shop. Macy's upgrades you to Gold status when you spend $500-$1,199 yearly.
In addition to Star Passes, Gold status cardholders also get free shipping on online purchases, plus a birthday offer.
Get the biggest rewards for spending the most. When you spent $1,200 or more in a year, Macy's will upgrade you to Platinum status and send you a platinum-colored card.
Platinum cardholders get all of the perks given to Silver and Gold members, plus five points per $1 spent on rewards.
Once you rack up 1,000 points (or $200 spent on the card), Macy's will send you $10 in Star Money, which you can spend at Macy's.
Take advantage of its Plenti Points partnership program. You can also link any Macy's card with Plenti Points, which lets you earn and use points at Macy's and partner stores like Exxon, Rite-Aid, and AT&T.
You earn Plenti points using your card at Macy's and its partners at a rate of one point for every dollar spent on a qualifying purchase when you pay with your Macy's card.
When you pay with any other card, you earn one point for every $10 spent.
Pick the American Express card for greater flexibility and more points
You need a good credit score (close to 700) to qualify for the Macy's American Express card.
Unlike Macy's basic store charge card, you can use this card anywhere American Express is accepted, and you can earn 1% back on all purchases anywhere, meaning you earn more rewards all-around with this card.
American Express cardholders also earn more Plenti Points, including two points per dollar spent at gas stations and supermarkets, and three points per dollar spent at restaurants.
Status quo payment options. Macy's will calculate your minimum payment based on your current balance, plus any past due balance.
If you qualified for any promotions, those values will be applied to your balance. Occasionally, Macy's will offer credit bonuses if you buy a special item or service.
You can pay your Macy's credit card balance online, by phone, by mail, or at the register at any Macy's department store.
You can't pay your balance with a gift card or with PayPal, meaning you must use your bank account.
If you make a late payment, Macy's will charge a late fee up to $38.
Key Digital Services
Macy's digital services leave something to be desired
Macy's is primarily a retailer, so it should come as no surprise to know that it doesn't offer anything in the way of budgeting tools or personal financial management among its digital options.
You can set up an account online to check and pay your balance.
You can also check your Star Rewards status online here.
But that's about it.
Don't bother hooking it up to your Apple Wallet, either. You could link Macy's American Express card to a virtual wallet account, but you won't earn any rewards points on your purchases unless you use the physical card.
You can't use the Macy's store credit card at all unless you have the card in hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I raise my credit limit?
You can apply directly to Macy's for a credit limit increase, but you'll greatly improve your chances by paying your bill in full every month.
- Are there any travel benefits attached to the card?
Platinum-level Macy's AMEX cardholders will be eligible for some travel benefits, like deals on flights and vacation packages.
- How can I maximize my rewards?
You maximize your rewards by spending more at Macy's, basically.
Keep track of special events and time big purchases (furniture, for instance) around those.
Pay down your account balance every billing cycle so you can also avoid interest charges that could cancel out your rewards.
- How can I cancel my card?
Pay off your balance first and then call customer service at (888) 257-6757.
- What can I use my Macy's credit card for?
You can use your Macy's credit card for any purchases you may make at Macy's, either in stores or online.
- Where and at what stores can I use my Macy's credit card?
You can use your Macy's store card only at Macy's, either in its department stores or online.
You can use your Macy's American Express card at any merchant that accepts American Express.
- Can I get a refund on the credit card?
If you bought an item at Macy's using your store credit card and you wish to return it, the store will credit your refund to the original payment method, including your store card.
- How can I check my Macy's credit card balance?
You can check your Macy's credit card balance by calling customer service at (888) 257-6757 or by logging into your account online.
- Can I withdraw money from a Macy's credit card?
You cannot withdraw money from a Macy's store credit card, but you can get a cash advance against a Macy's American Express card.
- Can I get a cash advance and are there any related fees?
You can get a cash advance on a Macy's American Express card.
The card issuer will charge you a fee for it: $5 or 4% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is higher.
You cannot get a cash advance against a Macy's store card.
- Can I add an authorized user to Macy's credit card?
Yes, you can add authorized users to your Macy's credit card, but you will be responsible for any charges they may incur – whether you plan for them to or not.
- Are there any upgrades on Macy's credit card?
Yes, Macy's will upgrade your store credit card status when you spend more money at Macy's.
- How soon can I use my Macy's credit card once I receive it?
Once you receive your Macy's credit card, all you have to do is activate the card, either by going online to macys.com/activate or by calling 1-888-257-6728.
Once you do this, you can use the card.
- How to contact Macy's credit card services?
You can contact Macy's credit card services by phone at (888) 257-6757.
- How do I report a stolen Macy's credit card?
Call customer service at (888) 257-6757. Document any suspected fraud.
Check any other bank accounts you may have to look for suspicious activity there, too.
- Can I use my card online? Will I be charged for shipping if I use my card online?
Yes, you can use your card online.
Gold and platinum status cardholders get free shipping.
- What credit score do I need to get approval?
You generally need a fair credit score (~650) to be approved for Macy's, but occasional online reviewers have said they were approved with credit scores as low as 600.
- What credit score do I have to maintain so my account is not closed?
You must maintain a fair credit score (650 or so) to qualify and keep your account in good standing.
Paying your balance in full every month will also help.
If you stop using your Macy's card, the company might close your account due to inactivity.
- Will my credit score drop when my account gets closed?
Yes, if you close any type of borrowing relationship, your credit score will drop.
- Does Macy's credit card report to credit bureaus?
Yes, Macy's credit card reports to the three major credit-reporting bureaus.
- Can I build my credit with the Macy's credit card?
You can build your credit using the Macy's credit card as long as you pay it off on a monthly basis, just like any other credit card.
- Is there an expiry date on the card?
Yes, it will be shown on the front of the card you are issued.
- Is there a credit insurance program and how will it cover me if I lose my job?
Macy's does not provide much information about a credit insurance program.
Credit insurance generally covers unpaid debts in the event of death or disability. Much less often does it cover you in the event of a job loss.
- Can I have two credit cards from Macy's at the same time?
No, you must choose either the store credit card or the American Express card.
- Is it hard to get a Macy's credit card?
Online reviews have consistently said it is rather easy to get approved for a Macy's credit card.
- How long does it take to receive the card once I have been approved for it?
Once approved, you should receive the card within seven to 10 days.
- How do I earn more rewards points?
You earn more rewards points by spending more at Macy's.
- Is there a limit on how many points I can earn?
Macy's does not currently state any limit to the points you can earn. Pay attention to the expiration date on Star Passes and other rewards, though.
- What other stores can I earn points from beside Macy's?
With the Macy's American Express card, you can earn points anywhere American Express is accepted.
You can also earn Plenti points when you use your Amex at gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants.
- What can you use Macy's reward card for?
You can use the Macy's rewards card for qualifying purchases at Macy's, in stores or online.
Consider the Macy's credit card if you're a diehard fan or planning a big purchase
The rewards get progressively more generous the more you spend, making this card a good deal if you have a lot of holiday shopping, or perhaps a wedding registry in the near future.
Just one catch, though: Pay down the balance in full every month, or the interest you pay could end up canceling out any benefit you receive.
Unless you really love Macy's, you can find a better card elsewhere.
Do you use the Macy's credit card?
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.