The most popular credit card issuers on the market today—Capital One, Chase, Citi, American Express, Discover and Bank of America—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 like Big Lots, IKEA and Ulta Beauty.
What is Comenity Bank?
Founded over 35 years ago, Comenity Bank is a specialized bank that dominantly partners with merchants to supply store credit cards. It currently offers more than 145 store credit cards with retailers around the world. It also offers high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit through Comenity Direct, its online bank.
Unlike other banks, Comenity Bank does not have any physical locations for customers to visit. If you need to contact them, you can do so over the phone, on its website or via its mobile app.
Stores that offer retail credit cards through Comenity Bank
Comenity Bank offers more than 145 credit cards with various retailers. Although many of the retailers are outside of the U.S. or only relevant on a regional basis, the bank also offers numerous cards for huge brands everyone has heard of. Some of its most popular store credit cards include:
- Victoria’s Secret Credit Card
- ALL Rewards Credit Card (Ann Taylor, LOFT)
- Bed Bath & Beyond® Mastercard®
- Big Lots Credit Card
- Burlington Credit Card
- My Place Rewards Credit Card (The Children’s Place)
- Eddie Bauer Credit Card
- IKEA® Visa® credit card
- J.Crew Credit Card
- Ultamate Rewards® Mastercard® (Ulta Beauty)
Are Comenity Bank cards in Visa’s or Mastercard’s network?
Some Comenity Bank cards are included in major card networks like Visa and Mastercard, which means they can be used almost anywhere. One 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 of this is the Big Lots Credit Card, which can only be used for purchases at Big Lots.
Are Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank 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.
Is a Comenity Bank credit card right for you?
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 have unique perks and drawbacks. If you’re considering a Comenity-issued card, weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and remember to read the fine print.
- 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 Ultimate Rewards Mastercard offers 500 bonus points when you spend $500 outside of Ulta Beauty within 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 up, a store credit card can be 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 in to an account with a username and password.
- Inflexible rewards programs. Retail cards can be restrictive in terms of redemption options. For example, the Eddie Bauer Credit Card earns rewards that are only good for certificates 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 want to consider using a low-interest credit card instead.
- Lack of physical locations. Comenity Bank has just one location, its corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. If you like being able to talk to a representative face to face, this could be a major drawback.
Alternatives to Comenity Bank credit cards
Knowing retail credit cards can sometimes be restrictive, you may want to consider credit cards that offer rewards for purchases made at any department store, not just one. Another option to consider is a cash back credit card, many of which let you earn at a flat rewards rate and come with no annual fee. You can often redeem your rewards for cash back in your bank account, gift cards, statement credits or more. Here are some alternatives to store cards to consider:
U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card comes with no annual fee and offers 5 percent back in two eligible categories of your choice each quarter (up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent). Two of the category options for the first quarter of 2022 are department stores and select clothing stores. You can also earn 2 percent back on one everyday category of your choice and 1 percent back on all other eligible purchases. Be sure to select your categories each quarter or you’ll only earn 1 percent back on all purchases.
The card also includes a welcome bonus of $200 cash back after you apply online and spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card also has no annual fee and offers 3 percent cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement. You’ll also earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. You’ll earn the higher rewards rate on up to $2,500 of combined 3 percent and 2 percent categories each quarter, then 1 percent back. If you’re a big online shopper, this card could offer a hefty rewards payout.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers a welcome bonus of $200 in online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is a popular cash back card 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 statement credits, direct deposits, checks or Citi ThankYou points.
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card also offers unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on your purchases, and it has no annual fee. You can redeem your cash back as statement credits, physical cash (from a Wells Fargo ATM), direct deposits, gift cards and travel. New cardholders can also receive a welcome offer of $200 after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Final note: Comenity Bank’s debt collection practices
It should be noted Comenity 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 didn’t have any fees if they didn’t have an account balance but then charging fees anyway. The bank also misrepresented or omitted information about product cancellations and conditions needed for earning rewards.
Comenity Bank may have learned its lesson—the settlement it was required to pay surpassed $50 million. However, consumers who use its products should make sure they are not charged any undisclosed fees or held hostage by other deceptive practices.