Looking to bedazzle a loved one in celebration of an upcoming birthday, anniversary or holiday, but are short on cash? Ready to pop the question to your soulmate, but don't have two months' worth of salary saved up just yet? If so, you might be tempted to take advantage of Zales credit card's 0% introductory interest rate offer—enabling you to buy bling now and pay for it later.
5 things you should know about the Zales credit card:
- There is no annual fee.
- A 0% introductory interest rate offer is available for between six and 36 months, depending on how much you spend.
- After the promotional period, the interest rate climbs to 28.99%.
- If you don't pay off the credit card balance in full by the end of the promotional period, you'll be charged interest from your original date of purchase.
- You only need a fair-to-good credit score (660+) to apply.
Wondering whether the Zales credit card is right for you? First answer the following questions:
- Do you have a large, one-time jewelry purchase to make?
- Will you be able to pay off your balance in full?
- Are you expecting a bonus or other lump sum monetary amount that will help you pay off your credit card bill before the promotional period ends?
Unless you've answered yes to the questions above—and are confident you will be able to pay off your bill before the promotional 0% interest rate period ends—you may want to consider another card for that sparkling purchase you are planning. That's because the interest fees you will pay will likely exceed the benefits of having an extra six to 36 months to pay off your jewelry bill.
If this would be your first credit card, or you're still not sure about whether to apply, here are 14 more questions to ask yourself.
What do people love about Zales?
Consumers praised Zales for its affordably-priced, quality jewelry. Some even said the Zales credit card was helpful as they built—or rebuilt—their credit scores. "Zales was the first card I was approved for at the beginning of my rebuild [of my credit score]," noted Fico Forums user ecniVince. "I applied in store and was instantly approved for a starting limit of $1,000."
After credit line increases every other month, the user's credit line grew to $2,500. "The promos are nice, but I wouldn't ever carry a balance on this card outside of a promo."
What do people hate about Zales?
Like many store credit cards, the Zales credit card has a very high-interest rate—29.74%—after the introductory promotional period ends.
In addition, the Zales credit card has many fees, and experts say it's not a good bet for those who carry a balance and cannot pay off the credit card before the end of the 0% interest rate offer expires. "Just remember to pay your balance in FULL before the promo ends because if you do not, they will backdate all interest waived and apply it to your balance at the end of your promotional offer!" Fico Forums user ecniVince warned.
The history of Zales credit card
The Zales credit card is a store card that can be used only at the 750 Zales retail stores located in the United States and Puerto Rico (including 19 in the New York area), the Zales outlet store, and online at Zales.com
Zales was started in 1924 by Morris and William Zale and Ben Lipshy in Wichita Falls, Texas, with the goal of offering quality jewels at low prices. Way back when, the company revolutionized a new type of credit plan, in which consumers paid "a penny down and a dollar a week."
In 2014, Zales was acquired by Signet Jewelers Ltd, the largest specialty jewelry retailer in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. While you may not have heard of Signet Jewelers, you're probably familiar with the jewelry companies it owns—namely Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.
If you're still unsure, consider how the Zales credit card works to help you purchase fine jewelry, watches, and diamonds, including exclusive wedding collections, often at low or no interest for a set period of time.
The experts reviewing the Zales credit card agree it can be a fine option for someone looking to make a large, one-time jewelry purchase who intends to pay the credit card bill in full before the 0% interest rate promotional periods ends.
"The Zales card is a convenient option for people who are able to pay off the balance quickly and completely," according to a review of the card posted on LoanInformer.com.
Here are some other benefits that experts and consumers alike pointed out:
No annual fee. Like many retail credit cards, there is no annual fee for using the Zales credit card. The Zales credit card doesn't exactly stand out from the pack with this perk. Nonetheless, it's nice not to be charged money to spend money. Instead of paying $58 (give or take—that's the average annual fee based on an industry survey), you can put that money toward your bling.
Cardholder perks. These include 10% off a repair service when you use your Zales credit card, as well as exclusive cardholder coupons, including a $50 coupon off a purchase of $200 or more on your birthday.
Online benefits. Cardholders enjoy free standard shipping when they use the Zales credit card online.
An opportunity to improve your credit score. You don't need to have excellent credit to sign up for this card—a "good-enough" credit score can still get you approved. Just be aware that credit limits on store cards like the Zales credit card are often lower than regular rewards credit cards, according to Kerry Close of MONEY Magazine.
Before purchasing an expensive engagement ring, personal finance expert Jay MacDonald cautions "cash-poor romantics" to take a close look at jewelry store credit terms, return policies, and fees that can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
"If you want her to marry you for richer and not poorer, you'll study the fine print first to make sure that bauble on her finger doesn't turn into a ball and chain on your newlywed finances," advises MacDonald.
Be sure to take into account the following drawbacks of the Zales credit card:
Limited usage. Since the card is not backed by MasterCard, Visa or American Express, it can't be used outside of Zales retail stores, Zales.com, and Zales outlet stores.
A sky-high interest rate. If you fail to make even one payment on time, or you don't pay off your balance in full by the end of the promotional period, you'll be subject to exorbitant interest rates. "Once that interest-free period is over, the APR range can jump to a dangerous 29.74 percent," MacDonald writes. This practice is known as "deferred interest," and it's worth reading up on before applying for this card.
Hidden fees. Make sure to read the fine print—if you choose the 12- or 18-month promotional credit plans, you'll be subject to a $9.95 monthly transaction fee. That will add up.
Poor customer service. Many consumers found the customer service to be lacking, and often had to call the company several times to deal with an erroneous fee or another issue (more on that later).
Zales' Major Competition
If you're willing to go jewelry shopping at Zales competitors, you'll find similar 0% promotional rates when you sign up for the jewelry store's credit card. Kay Jewelers, for example, offers a one-year interest-free financing plan on its own credit card, The Kay Card. Like the Zales credit card, it does not have an annual fee. To qualify for that financing option, you'll need to lay out a 20% down payment and your purchase must be a minimum of $500. The interest rate on the Kay Card after the promotional period can be as high as 26.99%.
The Jared credit card offers a Diamond Plan with 12 months of 0% interest. The plan is available for those who spend $1,000 or more and put down 20%. The Platinum Plan also offers no interest for 12 months, and the plan is available for purchases of $5,000 or more and also requires a 20% down payment. There is no annual fee for the card, and interest rates after the promotional period range from 17% to 24.99%.
Zales appears to be the best bet among the jewelry store cards, since it does not require any money down and you can secure interest-free financing when spending as little as $150. However, what you gain in convenience by opening a jewelry store credit card, you lose in fees and very high interest rates.
Instead of jewelry store-branded credit cards, personal finance experts recommend looking at major credit card companies offering cash-back rewards on purchases, or a true 0% promotional interest rate in which interest only begins to accrue on the remaining card balance after the promotional period ends. Plus, credit cards like the Citi Double Cash Card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited offer 2% and 1.5%, respectively, in cash back rewards on your purchase.
Biggest Consumer Complaints
While consumers generally said they were happy with their in-store shopping experience, many expressed dissatisfaction with the Zales credit card. Here are the most common complaints posted online:
Unexpected or unexplained fees. Customers complained about unexplained fees popping up on their credit card bill. In one instance, they added an insurance policy the consumer said she never signed up for. Despite asking them to cancel the insurance policy and remove the additional fees, the fees were still there 18 months later.
Others complained about paying their bill on time but still getting slapped with a $35 late fee. "I just close my Zales credit card on 6/23/2014," writes Myriam Serna. "Be aware...even if you pay on time, they charge you $35 late fees."
Unclear terms. Several customers were upset that the terms of the 0% promotional interest rate offer were not explained to them properly. One customer bought his fiancé's engagement ring on his Zales credit card and had $495 remaining at the end of his 12-month 0% promotional offer. He was shocked to discover he was charged an additional $495 in interest fees (for a total of $890). The interest charges reverted back to when he first bought the ring because he hadn't paid the entire balance off in full—something he wasn't aware of when he signed up for the credit card.
"If I knew about this, I would have paid off my balance long ago," he wrote. "The Zales store never mentioned to me about the fine print of the deferred interest trap after the 12 month period."
Poor customer service. Across the board, consumers complained about the poor customer service provided by Zales credit card representatives. Many reps promised to resolve issues (such as incorrect fees), but these issues went unresolved. Other customer service representatives were cited as rude or unhelpful.
One commenter posted on Complaints Board that he purchased a diamond wedding band and returned it after noticing it was damaged.
Two months later, he received a credit card statement saying he owed $90 in interest despite returning the ring within two weeks. Zales then reported his late payment to the credit bureaus. "Do not do business with Zales," he recommends, "as they will ruin your credit." (To be fair, this issue took place when the Zales credit card was a Citi card; it is now backed by Comenity Capital Bank.)
Products and Services
After the 0% introductory interest rate period ends, the Zales credit card offers some additional benefits—but you may also be subject to high fees. Review the details below to see if it makes sense for you to apply for the Zales credit card.
0% interest rate. The greatest benefit offered by the Zales credit card is its Everyday Promotional Plans, which offer zero down payments and no interest if you pay your entire bill within the promotional period. Zales is currently offering four different 0% interest rate plans, depending on how much you spend:
- 0% interest for six months if you spend $150 or more
- 0% interest for 12 months if you spend $750 or more
- 0% interest for 18 months if you spend $3,000 or more
- 0% interest for 36 months if you spend $1,500 or more
If you do not pay your entire bill in full by the time your promotional period ends, or if you miss even one minimum payment during the promotional period, you will incur an interest rate of 29.74 percent—dating back to the day you first purchased that beautiful ring or diamond necklace.
For example, if you spent $2,000 on diamond earrings, and you miss your payment halfway through the 36-month 0% interest promotional period, you'll suddenly be charged for 18 months of interest at a rate of 29.74 percent—adding another $900 or so to your bill. That will make your diamonds cost closer to $3,000—and that's only if you pay the bill in full before incurring additional interest fees.
Repair discount. Zales credit card holders receive a 10% discount on repair services when they use their Zales credit card.
Exclusive coupons. Zales cardholders can expect to receive exclusive coupons in the mail, including a $50 coupon off a purchase of $200 or more on their birthday.
Free standard shipping. When you use your Zales credit card online, you won't have to pay a shipping charge if you choose the standard shipping option (items will arrive within three to five business days).
Fraud protection. The Zales credit card provides cardholders with protection from unlawful purchases.
While you don't need excellent credit to qualify for the Zales credit card (a credit score of 660 or more should get you approved), the higher your credit score, the larger a credit line you may be offered. Consumer reviews were mixed regarding the credit line they were extended.
Introductory rate. The key perk offered by the Zales credit card is its introductory rate of 0% interest for up to 36 months, depending on how much money you initially spend on the Zales credit card.
Cash advance rate. The Zales credit card is not the ideal card to use for cash advances—you'll pay a whopping 29.95% cash advance rate.
Annual fee. The Zales credit card does not have an annual fee.
Cash advance fee. It's $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
Late fee. If you don't pay your Zales credit card bill on time, you'll have to pay a late fee of up to $39. Missing an on-time payment may also invalidate your 0% interest rate offer, resulting in a very high 29.74% interest rate starting from the day you first bought those jewels.
Transaction fees. While there are no transaction fees for purchases made under the six month, 0% promotional plan, those who sign up for the 12- and 18-month plans will incur a $9.95 monthly transaction fee.
Returned payment fee. If your check bounces and needs to be returned, you will pay a returned payment fee of up to $39.
Zales Website and Digital Services
The Zales credit card website offers card holders the ability to manage their account online at https://d.comenity.net/zales. This includes viewing statements, paying your bill and updating your personal information. The website also offers a mobile version for those who prefer to manage their credit card activities from their mobile phones.
"The site loads fast, but consumers aren't able to share products they like with one another at all," noted Giselle Abramovich in Digiday. And Zales doesn't currently have an app, like the Tiffany Engagement Ring Finder.
Applying for a Zales Credit Card
To apply for the Zales credit card, you must be 18 years old or older and have a valid photo ID. You will also need your Social Security number and be a U.S. resident.
If you meet these criteria, you can visit the Zales website (https://creditservices.zales.com) and click the light blue "apply now" button.
How to close your Zales Credit Card account
To close your Zales credit card, call Customer Care at 1-844-271-2708 or send the credit card issuer a message by logging into your online account (https://d.comenity.net/zales/) and using the Secure Message Center.
There are no penalties or fees for closing the account, but you will need to pay any outstanding fees and balance in full in order for you to close the account.
Do I need a top credit score to qualify for the Zales credit card?
No. A score of 660 or more should be enough to get you approved for the Zales credit card.
Can I get a cash advance from my Zales credit card?
You can, but it will cost you. You'll pay 5% of the cash you are requesting (minimum $10 fee) plus a sky-high 29.95% cash advance rate.
Does the Zales credit card have an annual fee?
If I apply for the Zales credit card in-store, is it instant approval?
Usually, you can get approval for the card while you are in the store. In some cases, the card company may need more time to decide whether or not to approve your application.
Can I use a Kay credit card at Zales, or vice versa?
No. While both jewelry companies share a parent company (Signet Jewelers), you cannot use the Zales credit card at Kay Jewelers or the Kay credit card at Zales.
What is the interest rate on the Zales credit card?
After the promotional period, the interest rate climbs to 29.74%.
If I close my Zales credit card, will it hurt my credit?
In the short-term, your credit score may drop slightly because you no longer have access to as much available credit. Since there is no annual fee on the card, there isn't much harm in keeping the card active. However, if you worry about identity theft, you may want to close the account if you aren't planning upcoming jewelry purchases.
But wait—we'd also like your feedback: Do you use the Zales card or know someone who has? What do you think? Is it the gift that keeps on giving, or a waste of time and money not worth that amazing new bling? Let us know in the comments below.
The verdict on Zales' credit card
The Zales credit card may seem like a smart move when you find yourself cash-poor around the holidays, yet wanting to buy your significant other a new bauble. But if you're not careful, that diamond bracelet will cost you long after the holidays have come and gone.
And if you're thinking of using the 0% promotional period to purchase an engagement ring you can't really afford, think again. Experts caution against going into debt to purchase an engagement ring. After all, finances are one of the top reasons couples fight. The last thing you want to do is start your marriage off buried in debt, and incurring a whopping 29.74% interest rate on that ring due to one late payment, or still owing money by the time the promotional period ended can be a real relationship buzzkill!
Our verdict? Unless you plan on using the Zales credit card to stretch out payments on a one-time large jewelry purchase for six months or so—and will pay it off in full before the 0% period ends—you're better off using another card to buy your bling. Unlike so many other retail cards (for example, the Victoria's Secret credit card), the Zales credit card doesn't offer reward points on purchases. Instead, consider a credit card like Chase Slate, which offers 18 months of 0% interest. Or better yet, don't go into debt buying jewelry. Wait until you can afford the ring—you can always upgrade to a bigger stone in the future.