JCPenney Credit Card: 7 Things to Know Before You Apply

The JCPenney Credit Card is a pretty typical store card, with some additional perks that can pay off for the right customers.
Last updated Jan 16, 2021 | By Robin Kavanagh
Woman shopping with her JCPenney credit card

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Like many department stores, JCPenney offers rewards credit cards for customers to use in store and online. In addition to lots of discount options and exclusive savings opportunities, JCPenney cardholders also get additional rewards through the brand’s loyalty program.

If you’re a regular JCPenney shopper or plan on making some big purchases, these perks may make getting a store card worth your while. Here’s a look at the JCPenney Credit Card and some essential things you should know before you apply.

In this JCPenney Credit Card review:

JCPenney Credit Card: The basics

JCPenney offers three credit cards: Standard, Gold, and Platinum. All are administered through the credit card issuer Synchrony Bank.

When you initially sign up for a JCPenney Card, you’ll be issued the standard red card. If you spend $500 or more on merchandise or services in store or at JCP.com with your card in one calendar year, you’ll be upgraded to the Gold card. Spend $1,000 or more and you’ll qualify for the Platinum card. To maintain these levels, you’ll need to spend at least these amounts annually.

When you use your JCPenney Card on the day of account opening, you can get 15% off select items like apparel, shoes, fine jewelry, salon products, and accessories; or 5% off big-ticket products such as electronics/electrics, mattresses, and smartwatches. If you apply in store, you may be given a different offer.

There’s no annual fee for a JCPenney Credit Card, and cardholders get a variety of perks, including:

  • Special offers for your birthday
  • Bonus events where you can earn more points
  • Exclusive coupons and offers
  • Over 150 special savings days
  • Special financing for eligible JCPenney purchases, which may mean no interest for six to 30 months
  • Additional benefits for Gold and Platinum cardholders (more on that below)

7 things you should know about the JCPenney Credit Card

1. Earn bonus points for using your JCPenney Card

Every cardholder is enrolled in the JCPenney Rewards program. This is a points-based system that generates a $10 JCPenney rewards certificate for every 200 points earned.

When you use your JCPenney Card, you earn points on a 1:1 basis for qualified purchases. For all other payment methods, you earn on a 0.5:1 basis. This means you earn double the points when you swipe your JCPenney Card.

2. Automatic bonuses when you earn enough points

With this card, you don’t have to worry about cashing in your reward points. A reward certificate is automatically issued via email or mail (depending on your preferred method of distribution) and is also accessible through your account at JCP.com/Rewards.

Rewards certificates can only be used for JCPenney purchases. And though your points don’t have an expiration date, your rewards certificates will expire in a minimum of 45 days. Make sure to make note how long you have to use your $10 in cash back.

3. Extra perks with Gold and Platinum status

Gold and Platinum JCPenney cardholders get some additional benefits beyond what’s listed above. With Gold status, you get everything you would as a standard cardholder, plus a $10 birthday offer coupon and a passbook of additional coupons and special offers, including a “Pick Your Own Sale Day.”

With Platinum status, you get all that, plus a $15 birthday coupon (instead of $10), exclusive Platinum Appreciation sale days with 30% off, and double points for any purchase made with your card for Sephora products bought through JCPenney.

4. Special discounts and savings days for cardholders

Cardholders are treated to extra opportunities to save that are exclusive to them. Regardless of what status you have, you can take advantage of more than 150 special savings days every year.

5. The APR is high

Like many store credit cards, the interest rate for the JCPenney Credit Card is relatively high.

Of course, you can avoid these fees by paying off your balance in full every month. But if you think you might carry a balance on this card, proceed with caution — with high interest rates, your balance could balloon quickly.

6. You can only use the card at JCPenney stores and related brands

The JCPenney Credit Card can only be used for in-store purchases, those made through JCP.com, or with partner brands. For example, you can use your card at the JCPenney salon, optical center, or photo studio. You can also use it to shop at Sephora.com.

7. You’ll face high fees for late payments

There are two levels of fees for late payments. If you’ve been on time with your payments for six months, you’ll be charged a $27 late payment fee. If you’ve been late at least once in the past six months, that fee jumps to $38.

Who the JCPenney Card is best for

The JCPenney Credit Card is best for those who shop the brand regularly and can benefit from the enhanced Gold or Platinum status perks and rewards bonuses. The special financing offers and rewards points could be a useful advantage for those who plan to make big purchases or already spend a lot with JCP.

However, if you're not a loyal JCPenney customer or think you might carry a balance on the card, you may not see much in the way of benefits.

How to apply for the JCPenney Card

You can apply for a JCPenney Credit Card both online and in person at your local store. To apply online, go to JCPenney’s Online Credit Center. Provide your name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, Social Security number, and annual income after taxes.

Then you’ll be asked to choose several options and review the terms and conditions associated with the card. The application will then be sent to Synchrony Bank for review; you’ll typically receive a decision immediately.

When you apply in a store, a sales associate will walk you through the process, and you’ll have to provide the same information. You will also usually get an immediate decision. JCPenney credit card applicants with a credit score considered “fair” or higher are typically approved.

JCPenney credit cardmembers can pay their bill online through JCPCreditCard.com, in person at a JC Penney store, or by mailing a check or money with the payment slip that comes with the monthly statement. Checks or money orders can be mailed to:

SYNCB
P.O. Box 960090
Orlando, FL 32896-009

Alternatives to the JCPenney Card

If you’re looking to get more out of your shopping rewards than what JCPenney offers, you may want to consider a flexible general rewards card. The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards, for instance, could be worth looking into.  

The Chase Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% cash back on restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you also get up to 5% cash back on your purchases. Not sure which is best? Check out our full comparison of the two cards.

The American Express Blue Cash Everyday may also be a good option, since it offers several levels of cashback options. You get 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 a year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% cash back on other purchases. 

Unlimited Cash Back

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Bonus rewards on travel, dining, and drugstores
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases

FAQs about the JCPenney Credit Card

Can you use a JCPenney Card anywhere?

You can use the JCPenney Credit Card at JCPenney or JCPenney.com or partner stores, which include Sephora stores inside JCPenney locations, Sephora.com, Rite Aid, and Riteaid.com. There is also a JCPenney Mastercard credit card which can be used anywhere, just as you would any credit card.

What credit score is needed for the JCPenney Credit Card?

You’ll likely need good credit to qualify for a JCPenney Credit Card account. This means having a score of at least 640 or higher. If you don’t have a good enough credit score for the JCPenney Credit Card, work toward improving it before you apply.

Can you pay your JCPenney Credit Card bill online?

You can pay your JCPenney Credit Card bill online in the JCPenney Online Credit Center. You’ll need your JCPenney account information, and a way of making the payment electronically — either by using another card or your bank account information.

Does the JCPenney Credit Card earn rewards?

The JCPenney credit card does earn rewards, and cardmembers are automatically enrolled in JCPenney Rewards. This rewards program makes cardmembers eligible to earn rewards points on qualifying purchases made with their JCPenney credit card.

The bottom line

While the JCPenney Credit Card may be a good option for those who shop with the retailer regularly, other cards offer a better earnings rate and more flexible rewards. If you are in the market for a new card, the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and American Express Blue Cash Everyday can all help you earn valuable cash back on purchases you make regularly. In the end, the best credit card for you will depend on your unique situation and preferences. 

Powerful New Cashback Card

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Up to 5% cash back on spending
  • Lyft and DoorDash perks

Author Details

Robin Kavanagh Robin is a freelance writer who lives on the South Carolina beach. She has spent the last 20 years writing about all kinds of topics for publications such as The New York Times, Yes! Magazine, Next Tribe, Parenting, and various trade magazines. On FinanceBuzz.com, you’ll find her mostly writing about smart ways to use credit cards, navigating personal loans, how to save when traveling, and ways to improve your financial health.