Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) is one of the most recognizable retail chains in the United States, operating Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores as well as Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdale’s, Bloomingdale’s Outlet and Bluemercury franchises. In total, the company has 852 stores in operation, according to its website. Macy's, the largest retail brand, accounts for approximately 650 stores.

In February 2019, the company reported fiscal 2018 sales of $24.971 billion and 130,000 employees, the most recent numbers available. Macy's has been in the news for shuttering many of its retail shops across the country, but the company continues to offer its brands and several credit card options to its customers.

Macy’s Credit Cards

Macy’s offer its customers two options with credit cards, the Macy’s credit card and the Macy’s American Express card. The Macy’s credit card can only be used at any Macy’s or Macy’s Backstage store, or online; it cannot be used at any Bloomingdale’s. The Macy’s American Express card can be used anywhere that American Express is accepted. Customers can apply for the Macy’s credit card online or in-person at a store, and should expect to give the personal information usually given when applying for a credit card.

key takeaways

  • Macy's has two types of credit cards: a regular Macy's card and a Macy's American Express Card.
  • All Macy's/Macy's AmEx card purchases enroll cardholders in the retailer's three-tier Star Rewards loyalty program, whose perks include discounts on purchases, free shipping and rewards refunds.
  • You can earn points in Macy's loyalty program without having a Macy's credit card.

Macy’s Card Rewards & Benefits

Macy’s revamped its Star Rewards member loyalty program in 2018. It now offers three different levels (silver, gold, and platinum) of benefits for its cardholders, based on how much they spend on an annual basis. Macy's claims its changes have had beneficial results, with spending by those in the top platinum tier up 10%.

The levels are:

  • Silver: Customers who spend up to $499 yearly receive 25% off of a purchase on any day of their choice using Star Pass coupons offered to cardmembers.
  • Gold: This tier is for customers who spend between $500 to $1,199 annually. The perks for that size expenditure include 25% off a purchase any day of their choice using Star Pass coupons, plus free shipping on any purchase (no minimum requirement).
  • Platinum: This is the highest tier possible and is only available for customers who spend ‘$1,200 or more each year at Macy's stores. These customers receive all the perks offered in the silver and gold tiers, and they also earn 5% back in rewards on every purchase. After they spent $200, these top-tier customers earn $10 in Star Money on any store product. Unlike Silver and Gold cards, which are in the retailer's trademark red color, Platinum cards are platinum colored.

New accounts enter at the Silver tier. When you spend enough to get into the next tier, you're automatically be upgraded after 30 days, assuming you do not return the qualifying purchases. Once you are upgraded, you will maintain that status (unless you advance to a higher status) for the remainder of the current year and the next full calendar year.

Other Macy's Cards and Perks

Macy’s American Express card qualifies the user for the silver, gold, and platinum tiers when used in Macy's, but it offers even more benefits. When used outside of Macy's, it follows the 3-2-1 rule: The card offers its members 3% back in rewards when you spend at a restaurant, 2% back in rewards for shopping at grocery stores and gas stations, and 1% rewards for any other purchases.

Interestingly, in 2018, Macy's also launched a tender-neutral option, which added more than three million new members to the loyalty program. This option means customers can participate in the loyalty program without a Macy’s credit card and regardless of how they pay. They qualify for what Macy's calls the Bronze tier, and they can earn points toward Star Money during special Star Money-designated days. They also receive perks and offers like savings passes, and even get a birthday surprise every year. There are no spending qualifications to stay in the Bronze tier, but you can't upgrade to Silver without opening a Macy's account.

Applying for the Macy's Credit Card

You apply for both the Macy's card and the Amex version at the same, and then pick which one you'd like. Upon a credit inquiry and approval, applicants of both credit cards are also entitled to save 20% on purchases for the same day and the next, up to a total of $100.

Both the Macy’s Credit Card and Macy’s American Express card have a variable APR of 27.49%, and late or return payment penalty fees of up to $39, as of July 2019.

The Bottom Line

Many retailers offer both their proprietary and co-branded cards. But Macy's seems to be in particular competition with its own card, offering the same rewards with its American Express partnership on one hand, and some rewards for not having a card at all on the other.

The best applicants for the Macy's credit card are frequent shoppers of Macy’s stores who already have an AmEx card, or who don't want one. Since the minimum level to receive the rewards is $1, any regular shopper would benefit from the card. Shoppers looking to have a more versatile piece of plastic should consider using the Macy’s American Express card instead.