As more retail stores are offering a branded credit card, the TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) is no different. The stores T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post fall under the umbrella of TJX Companies. T.J. Maxx offers two credit card plans through Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF): the TJX Rewards Credit Card and the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard. A customer is awarded either one at the discretion of Synchrony.

How the Cards Work

The TJX Rewards Credit Card is similar to the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard, but with fewer benefits. Both cards have no annual fee and can be used at all TJX Companies stores. The regular TJX credit card does not have the enhanced chip card technology, while the TJX Platinum MasterCard does. The other major difference between the two cards is that the cardholder can use the TJX Platinum MasterCard at accepted ATMs to access cash, while the TJX Credit Card does not offer this option.

Rewards & Benefits

The benefits of the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard outweigh the benefits offered by the regular TJX credit card. Both cards offer a 10% discount on the first purchase made online through the website where the applicant applied for the card. This means that, if you applied at T.J. Maxx for the credit card, you could only use the 10% discount at TJMaxx.com once approved. Both cards offer cash back rewards based on points accumulated: 5 points per $1 spent at T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Sierra Trading Post and TJmaxx.com. The TJX Platinum MasterCard also offers an additional benefit where cardholders earn one point per $1 spent at other locations where MasterCard is accepted. Cardholders for both cards earn a $10 reward certificate for every 1,000 points earned, and there is no limit to the amount of points that can be earned. Both cards also have the additional benefits of exclusive sales and surprise savings.

Who Benefits the Most?

TJX Companies markets both the TJX Rewards Credit Card and the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard to customers who are frequent shoppers at discount retail stores. The business model of TJX Companies is to deliver quality brand name fashion products at discount prices, focusing on the “treasure-hunt” experience. No two stores are exactly the same, and it is always a mystery which brands the store will carry at any given moment. Considering that the TJX discounts are specific to the store the card is from, the cardholder primarily benefits from the T.J. Maxx credit card as a frequent customer.

Alternatives

Competitors to T.J. Maxx are other discount retailers offering name-brand items at a price that is 20-60% lower than a department store. While the primary competitors to T.J. Maxx are Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) and Burlington Stores Inc. (NYSE: BURL), neither store offers a credit card. Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) has a discount store, Nordstrom Rack, and while the price point is higher than that of T.J. Maxx, it carries many of the same brand names at a reduced rate. Nordstrom offers three different types of store cards, two credit cards and one debit card, that can be used at all Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores. Nordstrom has a similar model for credit cards as T.J. Maxx: a Nordstrom Retail credit card and a Nordstrom Visa Signature card. The Nordstrom Retail credit card is similar to the TJX Rewards Credit Card, and the Nordstrom Visa Signature card is similar to the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard. Both of Nordstrom's cards offer two points per $1 spent at Nordstrom stores.

However, the Visa Signature card offers an additional 1 point per $1 spent at every store that accepts Visa. While there is the additional alternative of a standard Visa card with Nordstrom, the store benefits are not included.

The Fine Print

The TJX Rewards Credit Card and the TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard both have a high annual percentage rate (APR) at 26.99%, which can be expensive if the customer does not pay the credit card off in full each month. There is a minimum interest charge of $2.00 per billing cycle. The TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard also has a cash advance APR of 29.99%. The customer service reviews are largely negative toward TJX credit cards on CreditKarma.com, primarily due to bad customer service and high interest rates.