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Dillard’s credit card review: Does it fit the style of your life?
In a Nutshell
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What you need to know about the Dillard’s credit card
If you’re a regular Dillard’s shopper, you’ve likely heard about the Dillard’s credit cards. You may have even considered signing up for one at checkout. But before you give in to those visions of discounts and special offers and fill out an application, you should understand how this card works.
The application process could leave you with a card you don’t want
There are two different Dillard’s cards: the Dillard’s Credit Card and the Dillard’s American Express® Credit Card. The Dillard’s Credit Card can only be used at Dillard’s stores and the Dillard’s website, while the Dillard’s American Express® Card can be used anywhere American Express is accepted.
We found the application process confusing, so we contacted customer service. A representative explained that applicants can’t specify which card they want. Instead, you submit one application, and Wells Fargo, the cards’ issuer, decides which to approve you for based on your credit history and profile.
This process means you might only be approved for a card that can only be used at Dillard’s. That doesn’t have to be a negative, depending on your spending habits, but it could limit your rewards opportunities and flexibility.
The rewards don’t offer much of a return on spending
Both Dillard’s credit cards allow you to earn two points per $1 spent on purchases at Dillard’s, both in-store and online. With the Dillard’s American Express® Card, you can also earn two points per $1 spent on purchases at U.S. grocery stores and U.S. gas stations, plus one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Once you’ve earned 1,500 points, your points are redeemed for either a 10% discount shopping pass (eligible for one day’s worth of purchases) or a $10 rewards certificate. You can choose which to get, but to do that you have to call customer service to switch from the default choice, which is the 10% discount pass.
Those rewards represent a pretty poor return on the spending required to get them. To earn those 1,500 points for the $10 rewards certificate, you’d have to spend at least $750 at Dillard’s. That’s essentially a 1.33% return on spending. Your points might be worth more if you spend more than $100 and choose the 10% discount reward, but this option could lure you into spending beyond your usual budget.
Your points expire a year after they’re earned, too — so this card might provide only limited value if you rarely shop at Dillard’s and want to use any benefits on your own schedule.
Elite status adds extra perks
One of the Dillard’s credit cards might provide more value if you’re able to achieve Elite status. Cardholders qualify when they spend at least $2,000 with their card in a calendar year, and benefits include free standard shipping on online purchases, complimentary gift wrapping in-store, and opportunities to earn two points for every $1 spent on purchases during special events. Your status stays active for the calendar year after you earned it, so it’s possible to become an Elite cardholder in December and hold onto it for another 12 months.
These benefits are nice perks for people who already spend roughly $2,000 at Dillard’s in a calendar year, For example, if you plan to charge around $1,800 to your Dillard’s credit card in a calendar year and are considering trying for Elite status, think about whether you’d actually get $200 worth of benefits from your membership.
The purchase APR and special financing offers aren’t very clear
Retail credit cards tend to have higher APRs than other credit cards, so it’s no surprise that Dillard’s credit cardholders need to watch out for potentially high interest charges and fees. Unfortunately, these cards add to those dangers with a lack of clarity.
For one thing, the two Dillard’s cards do not offer the same APRs on purchases. The Dillard’s Credit Card’s purchase APR could range from 19.74% to 21.74%, while the Dillard’s American Express® Card’s variable purchase APR could end up as low as 6.74% but as high as 21.74%.
That’s a wide range of possibilities based not only on your creditworthiness, but also which card you qualify for. Wells Fargo does not provide much guidance on how applicants are assigned APRs, and the various possibilities mean that you could end up with a card with a variable purchase APR well above the November 2018 national average of 14.73% as reported by the Federal Reserve.
If you carry any balance from month to month, your debt could really snowball.
Worse yet, the Dillard’s cards offer “special financing” plans that hide the potential for future interest charges in an advertised introductory 0% APR offer for 12 or 24 months on certain purchases.
While the card agreements say that you won’t be charged interest on the balances for these plans, these offers sound very similar to deferred interest offers, which can charge interest on the entire balance — not just the remaining balance — if you fail to pay the full balance by the plan’s end date.
Simply put, this lack of clarity concerns us, and these cards might only be right for you if you’re sure you’ll pay your balance in full and on time every month. Otherwise, you could end up paying more in interest than you’ll earn in rewards.
An option if you have a limited credit history
When you have a limited credit history, it can be tough to find credit card companies willing to approve you for a card. That can also make it difficult to build your credit. Retail credit cards might come in handy if that’s your situation, because store credit cards can be easier to qualify for than other unsecured credit cards.
Over time, as you establish a positive history with your credit card, your credit can improve and you may qualify for other cards that offer more versatility. But it’s key that you pay your balance on time and in full every month — the APR and fees are often high enough to get you into serious debt if you’re not careful.
Who this card is good for
The rewards for these Dillard’s credit cards are poor even within the store credit card space. It can take hundreds of dollars in spending at Dillard’s to earn just one $10 reward or 10% savings pass, and high interest rates make carrying a balance costly. Plus, because points expire within a year, it’s difficult to save up rewards to help pay for bigger purchases.
When it comes down to it, these cards are only a good option if you’re already spending $2,000 or more at Dillard’s in a calendar year. If that’s you, you can earn Elite status and take advantage of extra benefits like free shipping and gift wrapping.
Otherwise, it’s only an option to consider if you need to start building up your credit history and you shop regularly at Dillard’s but not at other department stores. If this sounds more like you, then you can use one of these cards as a temporary measure while you build credit and work toward qualifying for another card.
Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives
If you decide that the Dillard’s Credit Card is not for you, there are many other options that may be a better fit. Three cards to consider include:
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