Guide to Comenity Bank-issued credit cards

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The most popular credit card issuers on the market today—Chase, American Express and Discover—really need no introduction. Most people have heard of them, and it’s not uncommon for consumers to carry their credit cards.

But some card issuers aren’t as well-known, and this includes Comenity Bank. This card issuer offers dozens of store credit cards from popular retailers we all know and love.

What is Comenity Bank?

Founded more than 30 years ago, Comenity Bank is a specialized bank that focuses on a few different banking products. This includes the 140-plus store credit cards it offers with retailers around the world, as well as its high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

Unlike other banks, Comenity Bank does not have any physical locations for customers to visit. It’s an online bank, so its 50 million credit card customers can contact Comenity over the phone or at its website or use its mobile app.

Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank: Are they the same?

While consumers often confuse Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank, these institutions are separate. Both offer an array of store credit cards with major brands, so their offerings are sometimes lumped together.

Are Comenity Bank cards on Visa’s or Mastercard’s network?

Some Comenity Bank cards are also included in major card networks, which means they can be used almost anywhere. An example is the Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard, which can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted..

Other Comenity Bank cards are store cards, which means they can only be used in a specific store or a family of stores. A good example is the Big Lots Credit Card, which can only be used for purchases at Big Lots.

Stores that offer retail credit cards through Comenity Bank

Comenity Bank offers more than 140 credit cards with various retailers, and a lot of them are outside the U.S. or only relevant on a regional basis. However, it also offers plenty of cards representing huge brands everyone has heard of. Some of its most popular store credit cards include these offerings:

  • Angel Credit Card (Victoria’s Secret)
  • Ann Taylor ALL Rewards Credit Card
  • Big Lots Credit Card
  • Burlington Credit Card
  • My Place Rewards Credit Card (The Children’s Place)
  • Eddie Bauer Credit Card
  • IKEA Projekt credit card
  • J.Crew Credit Card
  • Ultamate Rewards® Mastercard and World Mastercard (Ulta Beauty)
  • Wayfair Credit Card

Is a Comenity Bank credit card right for me?

Comenity Bank offers a variety of credit cards, so making the decision to apply depends on the card you’re interested in and your spending habits. That said, store credit cards in general have unique perks and drawbacks. If you’re considering a Comenity-issued card, weigh the advantages and drawbacks, and remember to read the fine print.

Advantages

  • Earn boosted rewards for purchases from your favorite brands. If you’re already spending regularly at a particular store, why not earn cash back or points for your loyalty?
  • Receive an intro bonus or discount. Like many credit cards, plenty of Comenity-issued cards offer introductory bonuses for new cardholders. For example, the Ultamate Rewards Mastercard offers 500 bonus points when you spend $500 outside of Ulta Beauty in the first 90 days.
  • Build credit. Retail credit cards are often easier to get approved for than the top rewards credit cards, which usually require good to excellent credit. If you’re looking for a card that will help you earn rewards while you build your credit from fair to excellent, a store credit card is a great entry point.
  • Comenity’s EasyPay feature. Most Comenity-issued cards offer EasyPay, a tool that allows you to pay your bill with just a few identifying pieces of information instead of having to log into an account with a username and password.

Disadvantages

  • Inflexible rewards programs. Retail cards can be restrictive in terms of redemption options. The Eddie Bauer credit card, for example, earns rewards that are only good for certificates that you can redeem for more Eddie Bauer merchandise. Some cards have more flexible programs, however.
  • Limited use. Some Comenity-issued cards are only usable at the associated merchant. For example, you couldn’t make purchases at the grocery store with your J.Crew Credit Card—it can only be used for online or in-store J.Crew purchases.
  • Higher-than-average interest rates. Store credit cards are notorious for charging high interest rates. If you tend to carry a balance, you may be better off with a low-interest credit card.
  • Lack of physical locations. Comenity Bank has just one branch, located in Wilmington, Delaware. If you like the idea of being able to talk to a representative face-to-face, this could be a major drawback.

Alternatives to Comenity Bank credit cards

Knowing that store cards can sometimes be restrictive, you may want to consider credit cards that offer rewards for purchases made at any department store, and not just one.

  • The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* is a good example since this card offers 5 percent back on up to $2,000 spent in two categories of your choosing each quarter, and two of the options are department stores and select clothing stores. You can also earn 2 percent back in an everyday category of your choosing among gas, grocery stores or restaurants as well as 1 percent back on other purchases. You can even get started with a $200 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 on your card within 120 days of account opening, and you won’t pay an annual fee.
  • TheBank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers 3 percent cash back in the category of your choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement and furnishings. You’ll also earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs ($2,500 combined limit on 2 and 3 percent categories each quarter, then earn 1 percent). If you’re a big online shopper, this card could offer a hefty rewards payout.

Also, many cash back credit cards let you earn a flat rate of rewards with no annual fee. You can often redeem your rewards for cash back in your bank account, gift cards or statement credits.

  • The Citi® Double Cash Card is a popular option since you earn 2 percent back on all purchases you make—1 percent when you make a purchase and another 1 percent when you pay it off. There’s no annual fee, and you can redeem your rewards for a statement credit, a direct deposit or a check.
  • The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card also offers an unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on your purchases, and it has no annual fee. You can redeem your cash back as a statement credit or for physical cash, direct deposits, gift cards and even travel.

Background on Comenity Bank’s debt collection practices

One final note about Comenity Bank: This bank was once sued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and forced to pay a settlement due to deceptive practices regarding the marketing and servicing of credit card “add-on products.” This involved Comenity telling customers its products don’t have any fees if they don’t have an account balance, but then charging one anyway.

Comenity Bank may have learned its lesson considering the settlement it was required to pay surpassed $50 million. However, consumers who use its products should be sure they are not charged any undisclosed fees or held hostage by other deceptive debt collections methods.

The information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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