If you're a frequent Macy's shopper, there is a Macy's Credit Card for you. With one of the most intricate credit card rewards programs, the popular department store offers two credit card options for any kind of retail therapy — the Macy's Credit Card and the Macy's American Express® Card.
The Macy's Credit Card is a store card, which means you can only use it at Macy's properties. If you prefer a full-use credit card to use on spending outside of Macy's, there is a Macy's American Express Card, which offers 1% to 3% back on purchases at gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants and more.
Both cards let you earn up to 5% back in Star Money rewards on every Macy's purchase, with the exact percentage depending on your loyalty status.
Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Macy's store card and the Macy's American Express Card to help you decide which is the right card for you.
2%, 3% or 5% back in rewards on Macy's purchases, depending on your loyalty status
Save 20% on the day of account opening and the following day, up to a total of $100
Both Macy's credit cards delineate consumers into three categories — Silver, Gold and Platinum. The tiers are determined by the amount of money you spend at Macy's annually.
Here are the annual spending requirements for each tier:
Whether you are a Silver, Gold or Platinum cardholder, each Macy's card delivers signature "Star Money" rewards points that can be used to buy almost anything in the Macy's store (gift cards are excluded).
Here's the rewards breakdown for Macy's purchases:
Along with these rewards, the Macy's American Express Card increases the rewards potential for consumers in all three loyalty levels with the following rewards rates:
These rewards come in the form of Star Money, with one point worth a penny. Once you hit 1,000 points, Macy's sends you $10 in Star Money that you can spend on anything from Macy's, macys.com, or one of the Macy's Backstage outlet stores, with exclusions for gift cards, services and fees. You have 30 days to use your Star Money, otherwise it expires.
You may be wondering whether you qualify for Silver, Gold or Platinum loyalty status. Every new credit card account begins with Silver status by default. Then, you are reevaluated every calendar year to determine your status for the following year. If your spending increases quickly enough, your status can be upgraded within seven days.
For example, once you spend at least $500 in purchases at either of Macy's brick-and-mortar stores (Macy's and Macy's Backstage) or online at Macys.com, your status will be upgraded to Gold through the remainder of the current calendar year and for the next full calendar year, too.
The Macy's Credit Card comes with additional benefits that improve as you rise through each loyalty status. All levels receive a birthday surprise and promotional offers on Macy's purchases. There are also Star Money Bonus Days that allow customers to accumulate extra points.
Starting at the Silver tier, cardholders receive Star Passes that grant them 25% off their purchases, which is an added benefit to the standard-level perks and promotions.
Perhaps the most enticing benefits come at the Gold and Platinum levels, which tack on the added luxury of free shipping with the use of your Macy's Credit Card.
Both the Macy's Credit Card and the Macy's American Express Credit Card have a 26.74% variable APR, but neither card offers special financing periods. If you want to take advantage of an intro 0% APR period, consider alternative cards, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, with 0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 16.49% to 25.24% variable APR).
Like many credit cards, both of Macy's credit cards have a 3% foreign transaction fee that would make international travel quite costly. If you are looking for a card to use abroad, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card has no foreign transaction fee and currently comes with a 20,000 point welcome bonus.
Comparing the Macy's store card with the Macy's American Express Credit Card can be dizzying, since the cards are so similar. The most important detail to remember is that the Macy's American Express Credit Card delivers the same rewards as the Macy's Store Card, but also offers the added ability to spend and redeem points at the gas pump, at grocery stores, at restaurants and everywhere else.
If you are someone who shops at Macy's at least once a month, or even once every three months, the Macy's store card comes with some serious benefits that keep cash in your wallet. However, because Star Money expires within 30 days after you earn it, this is not the kind of card meant for people who prefer to save up their rewards for something big.
While the Macy's Credit Card provides ample opportunity for savings, the Macy's American Express Credit Card is an even more lucrative option for consumers who want all of the benefits of the store credit card, plus 3% back at restaurants, 2% back at gas stations and grocery stores and 1% back on all other spending.
If you're unsure whether you will shop at Macy's enough to make the store credit card worth it, CNBC Select recommends finding a cash-back card that lets you apply your points to spending of every kind and make the most of your rewards.
Alternatively, if you are an avid Amazon shopper, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card holders earn 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases and may be a better all-around card for your shopping needs.
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
Information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Macy's Credit Card, Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.