October 22, 2021

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The Complete Guide to Comenity Bank Credit Cards

11 min read

Citi is an advertising partner.

Comenity Bank is an issuer of co-branded credit cards for retailers like BJ’s, Express, J.Crew, Ulta and Wayfair. The bank’s cards generally have no annual fees, low credit limits and lax approval requirements, making them a popular choice for people with fair to average credit. Read through for our breakdown of Comenity credit cards, or check out the full Comenity Bank store credit cards list at the bottom of the article.

Benefits of Comenity Bank Credit Cards

In most cases, you’ll be better off opening a general rewards credit card than a Comenity co-branded store card. However, Comenity cards can be a good option if you’re trying to build credit. For shoppers loyal to one store, a co-branded or private-label store card issued by Comenity can help earn extra rewards.

Rebuild Your Credit

One of the top reasons to open a Comenity card is to help rebuild your credit. If you have a poor credit history and are unable to get approved by a traditional issuer like Chase or American Express, you may be able to get approved for a Comenity card. Comenity has traditionally had less stringent credit requirements for their store co-branded cards, since the credit limits are lower and most can only be used to buy products from a single brand.

Once you’re approved for a Comenity credit card and start paying your monthly bill, Comenity will generate a report for your account and send it to the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will help you build your credit over time, as long as you pay your bills on time and keep your credit utilization below 30%.

Avoid a Hard Inquiry?

Some cardholders report that you can open Comenity credit cards without getting a hard inquiry (also known as a hard pull) on your credit report when you apply. Hard inquiries have two effects: they allow lenders to view your credit report when you submit a loan application, and they signal to future lenders that you’ve searched for credit.

In most cases, a hard inquiry on your credit report will only temporarily decrease your score by a few points. However, if you have a low credit score or poor credit history, a hard inquiry may also result in your application being denied, since the potential lender gets to view your full report. As such, there’s a potential workaround: Some people have had success getting a Comenity Bank card via the shopping cart trick, which doesn’t require you to enter your full Social Security number.

If you’re worried about being denied for credit, it’s a better idea to open a secured card than to try for a store credit card via the shopping cart trick. The shopping cart trick may or may not work for you—and if it doesn’t, you’ll risk getting a hard pull without the benefit of being approved for a card. Opening a secured card, on the other hand, is a much safer bet. Secured cards have lenient approval requirements and are designed for people looking to build credit.

Earn Store Rewards

Another reason to open a Comenity Bank credit card is for the store rewards. Most of the stores that offer co-branded Comenity credit cards have excellent promotional discounts and ongoing benefits for cardholders. The Torrid Credit Card, for example, offers $15 off $50 with your Torrid Credit Card (when your card arrives).

Benefits and discounts vary from store to store, so be sure to check the terms of each individual credit card offer and store loyalty program. If you’re already a frequent shopper at a store, you’ll likely benefit from opening a Comenity store card as long as you responsibly manage your line of credit.

Reasons to Avoid Getting a Comenity Credit Card

Comenity credit cards can be great for earning store rewards and building credit. However, like most store lines of credit, the Comenity credit cards come with high annual percentage rates (APRs) that result in costly monthly interest payments. As such, it’s important to consider your personal financial situation and ability to pay your credit card bills each month before opening a Comenity credit card.

Higher-Than-Average Interest

Most Comenity credit cards have an APR of about 27%. The average interest rate for credit cards, in contrast, is between 15% and 20%. If you tend to carry a balance from month to month, the higher APR on a store credit card can cost you hundreds more in interest every year.

You don’t have to worry about Comenity Bank’s higher interest rates if you pay off your balance in full every month. If you have a history of poor credit management, however, it’s advisable to open a card with a lower interest rate or a 0% introductory interest rate offer.

Unreliable Payment Processing and Outdated Technology

Some Comenity cardholders report that the bank’s payment processing system can, at times, be unreliable, especially with payments made close to the due date. This can potentially frustrate people who pay their credit card bills at the last minute, particularly if the bank levies a late fee on a payment. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you pay your bill far enough in advance.

Comenity’s website and Comenity Bank’s apps are also outdated and harder to navigate compared to the technology of larger issuers. Plus, Comenity Bank’s apps are only available for certain credit cards (see below). You may want to choose a different issuer if convenient online account management is important to you.

Limited Acceptance

Some Comenity store cards are private label, meaning they’re only accepted at one store. For example, the GameStop Credit Card, issued by Comenity Bank, can only be used at GameStop. This is because the card is not on the Visa or Mastercard networks, which are widely accepted.

If you already have a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover credit card, it may not be important for you to open a card that’s accepted by most retailers. But if you’re new to credit cards and looking for a starter card, it’s a better idea to open a card that you can use across different retailers.

Alternatives to Comenity Bank Store Cards

As discussed above, there are a few drawbacks to Comenity Bank cards, despite the store rewards they might give. Below are some better options for building credit and for getting rewards points on shopping purchases.

Secured Credit Cards for Rebuilding Credit

Secured credit cards are your best option if you have damaged credit that you’re looking to repair. These cards work differently from traditional, or unsecured, credit cards. With a secured card, you’ll put down a security deposit upfront once you’re approved for a card, and that deposit will be your credit limit. This deposit acts as an insurance policy for the bank in case you can’t pay your credit card bill. We selected two of the best secured cards below.

A Secured Credit Card with Rewards: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Our Thoughts

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card comes with a rewards program, unlike a lot of secured credit cards. Cardholders earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

This is one of the best credit cards for rebuilding credit. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card provides great value for people seeking a secured card. As such, if you have Limited/Bad/Poor credit, this could be an excellent option for you.

Financial Flexibility and a Potentially Higher Credit Limit: Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Our Thoughts

The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is another excellent option for rebuilding credit. While most secured cards only extend a credit limit equal to your initial deposit on the card, the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One offers a credit limit up to four times higher than your deposit. The card also comes with a $0 annual fee and a suite of online tools that can help you manage your account.

The one downside to this card—when compared to the Discover it® Secured Credit Card—is that it doesn’t earn any rewards points. The trade-off is that you may qualify for a credit limit higher than your security deposit. You’ll be required to make a $49, $99 or $200 refundable minimum security deposit. And you’ll need access to an authorized bank account to make your deposit.

If you’re looking to open a Comenity credit card for the store rewards, you may be better off with a general cashback card—especially if you shop at a variety of locations. These cards are meant for people with good to excellent credit (i.e., a credit score of at least 670, but ideally above 700). Below, check out our picks for the two of the best cashback credit cards.

5% Cash Back on Rotating Categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • On Chase’s Secure Website

Our Thoughts

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a solid $0-annual-fee cash-back card. Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. As mentioned, it has categories that rotate every quarter, which in the past have included gas stations, grocery stores and purchases made with a mobile wallet. Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

The bonus on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ sets it apart from other no-annual-fee cash-back cards, as most do not offer a points bonus. If you’re looking for an alternative to the Comenity store cards—and the rotating categories work for your spending—then the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is an excellent choice.

Unlimited 2% Cash Back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
  • On Citibank’s Secure Website

Our Thoughts

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of the top cash-back cards available. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. However, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers the higher cashback rate only on certain categories during certain times of the year. If you prefer simplicity, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is the way to go.

One downside of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is that it doesn’t offer a welcome bonus. Regardless, the cash back rate on all purchases gives this card excellent long-term value, especially when compared to other no-fee cash-back cards in this category.

Check out the information below if you have unanswered questions about Comenity Bank.

Is Comenity Bank legitimate?

Yes. Comenity Bank is a legally licensed bank that issues credit cards for a number of major consumer brands and corporations.

Does Comenity Bank have an app?

Yes. Comenity Bank offers a money-management app called Comenity Direct. There are also mobile apps available for individual Comenity credit cards. Below is the full list of retailers that offer Comenity-branded credit cards with a Comenity Bank app available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

  • Ann Taylor
  • Ballard Designs
  • Boscov
  • Catherines
  • Christopher & Banks
  • Diamond Elite
  • Henri Bendel
  • Lexus
  • Loft
  • Talbots
  • Trek
  • Toyota
  • Venus
  • west elm

Does Comenity Bank garnish wages?

In most cases, it’s highly unlikely that Comenity Bank will attempt to garnish your wages after you default on card payments. If you are concerned about the status of your account, it’s always best to speak to the card issuer and work out a repayment plan.

Is Comenity Bank a collection agency?

No. Comenity Bank is a credit card issuer that specializes in co-branded retail cards. However, Comenity Bank may contact you to collect money if a payment is missed or your account becomes delinquent.

Does Comenity Bank do hard pulls?

Yes. Like all credit card issuers, Comenity pulls your full credit report before approving you for a card. However, information suggests you can get a Comenity card without a hard pull by using the shopping cart trick.

Is Comenity Bank bankruptcy-friendly?

In general, Comenity Bank has less-stringent approval requirements than major credit card issuers like American Express, Chase and Citibank. Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not be approved for a Comenity credit card if you have a prior bankruptcy on your record. We strongly suggest that you apply for a secured credit card if you’re looking to rebuild your credit.

Does Comenity Bank report authorized users?

On most cards, Comenity Bank will report your authorized users to the credit bureaus. However, information suggests this may vary depending on the card and the relationship between the primary cardholder and authorized user.

Does Comenity Bank give credit increases?

Yes. Comenity Bank increases credit lines for cardholders who demonstrate responsible credit management. You can request a credit limit increase on your online account. Note that Comenity Bank will only conduct a hard pull for a credit limit increase if you select the checkbox that authorizes the bank to access your credit report.

Example of credit limit increase portal

Comenity Bank credit limit increase interface. Image courtesy of Doctor of Credit.

Does Comenity Bank have a Visa card?

Yes. Comenity Bank issues a number of credit cards that operate on the Visa network, meaning you can use them anywhere Visa is accepted. These cards include the Farmers® Rewards Visa®, IKEA® Visa® Credit Card and Orbitz Rewards Visa Card. Comenity Bank also issues cards on the Mastercard network, including the BJ’s Perks Plus® Mastercard® Credit Card .

Does Comenity Bank use Equifax?

Yes. Comenity Bank pulls credit reports from Equifax and Experian when reviewing applications. The bank reports your account activity to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Full List of Comenity Store Cards Issued in 2019

Comenity Bank issues credit cards from more than 150 retailers, ranging from clothing stores to furniture depots and hardware outlets. Here’s the full list. Note that Comenity cards not listed here may no longer be available or only available in-store.

The information related to the Chase Freedom® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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