What is Comenity Bank? (Hint: You Probably Use 1 of Its 145 Cards)

The credit card in your wallet might not say Comenity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a Comenity credit card.
11 minute read | 9/10/19Sept. 10, 2019
Woman with a Comenity credit card

Comenity Bank has been a pretty big player in the credit card industry for more than 30 years, but there’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of it. Comenity provides retail partners with their own private-label and co-branded credit cards, so when the time comes to brand the credit card, the name “Comenity” takes a back seat.

Since Comenity has partnered with over 145 retailers to provide these credit solutions, it’s possible you’re a Comenity cardmember without even knowing. Whether you’re already a customer or in the market for a new credit card, understanding the bank behind many of these store cards might be worthwhile. Why? Because at the end of the day, Comenity is the one that will be extending you credit, and knowing more about the bank you might do business with can’t hurt.

Let’s dive in and see what Comenity is all about.

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What is Comenity Bank?

Comenity Bank provides financing solutions to many popular brands around the world — more than 145 retail partners to be precise. These financing solutions make their way to you as a consumer in the form of private-label and co-branded credit cards. If you’ve ever bought anything from a department store — which you probably have — you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those store cards the clerks always ask you if you’re interested in applying for? Those are private-label credit cards.

Comenity Bank was first formed as World Financial Network National Bank in 1989 with the goal of providing private-label credit card services to various retail establishments. While it changed its name to Comenity Bank in 2012, it continues to provide the same credit card services to its customers.

Currently, more than 50 million cardmembers hold an account with Comenity Bank. Considering that Comenity provides credit programs on behalf of so many retailers, you might already be a cardmember yourself. Some of these retailers include stores such as J.Crew, New York & Company, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ikea, Overstock, and many more.

Comenity offers both store cards and credit cards

Comenity Bank issues both private-label and co-branded credit cards for its retail partners. What are private-label and co-branded credit cards, you may ask?

Private-label credit cards — also known as closed-loop cards or store cards — are credit cards or credit programs issued by a bank on behalf of a store. Store cards can only be used to make purchases from a single company or retailer, such as a department store. So, for instance, if you open a store card at Boscov’s, you can only use it at Boscov’s.

Many store cards come with perks like discounts, rewards, and special financing options. They’re also generally easier to get approved for than regular credit cards. However, store cards also tend to have higher APRs (annual percentage rates) as well. This can be costly if you don’t pay your balances in full each month.

On the other hand, co-branded credit cards — or open-loop cards — give cardmembers more flexibility in how they spend. This type of card bears the name of both the retailer and the network it's on — Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover. These credit cards can be used in store and anywhere else that brand of card is accepted.

You'll typically need a higher credit score to be approved for a co-branded credit card, and while its APR might not be as high as a store card, the rate will vary from card to card.

To give you a better idea of what you can expect from one of these store cards or credit cards, here are a couple of examples of some of the best cards Comenity offers.

The best cards offered by Comenity Bank

BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard

Wholesale club prices are often hard to beat and make for great options for anyone looking to save while shopping. The BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard takes wholesale prices up a notch, offering cardmembers 5% back on purchases at BJ’s, 2% back on dining and gas purchases, and 1% back on everything else. Many BJ’s locations have their own gas stations as well, and cardmembers can enjoy an instant discount of 10 cents per gallon when using a BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard to fuel up.

When you’re ready to get that cash back, it comes in the form of electronic awards issued in $20 increments. These awards can only be used at BJ’s, though — either at checkout or to pay membership fees. So while this card can be a great way to earn rewards on your shopping, you’re restricted as to how you can redeem them. BJ’s cashback awards also expire six months from the date they’re issued.

There’s no annual fee for the BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard, but shopping at BJ’s requires a club membership. For the BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard, you have to be a BJ’s Perks Rewards member, and that costs $110 per year. For the best chance of being approved for this card, you’ll need a minimum of a good credit score.

Wayfair store card

If you do a lot of online shopping, particularly for your home, the Wayfair store card might be beneficial. There's no annual fee, and new cardmembers can receive $25 off when spending $100 or more with the first use of the card.

Cardmembers can choose between earning 3% back in rewards on every order or special financing on orders of $210 or more for up to 48 months (depending on the amount). Interest is deferred, so you’ll want to pay your balance in full before the end of the promotional period. Otherwise, the entire amount of interest from the date of purchase will be applied to your account.

When you're ready to cash out, you can redeem your rewards in increments of $6 for every 200 points. Wayfair runs special offers from time to time as well, so there's the potential to earn even more rewards.

With the Wayfair credit card, you aren't restricted to only shopping at Wayfair. In fact, you can use your Wayfair store card across all Wayfair-managed brands, which include Joss & Main, AllModern, Birch Lane, and Perigold.

The APR for the Wayfair store card is pretty high, but if you never carry a balance, this won’t be an issue. For the best chances of getting approved, your credit score shouldn't be any less than a fair rating. Wayfair provides a tool to check if you're prequalified for a card, and checking this won't affect your credit score.

Orbitz Rewards Visa

The Orbitz Rewards Visa might be a good credit card for some travelers, as it offers a generous rewards structure. When booking through Orbitz, you can earn 6% back on flights, up to 10% back on hotels booked on the Orbitz mobile app, and 2% back on all other purchases. As an Orbitz Rewards Visa cardmember, you're also automatically enrolled in the Orbitz Rewards Dining program and can earn up to 7% back at eligible restaurants. Orbucks never expire, and there are no blackout dates either, but they can only be redeemed on hotels booked through Orbitz.

This card comes with a slew of other benefits as well, including baggage coverage, accident coverage, rental insurance, and complimentary Orbitz Rewards Gold status. This card has no annual fee, as well as no foreign transaction fees. Plus, as a new cardmember, you can get a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first three months.

The card comes with a variable APR, and you should have a good credit score when applying.

Williams Sonoma store card

The Williams Sonoma store card is another option for the avid home shopper. You can take 20% off when you open and use your Williams Sonoma credit card the same day. For every purchase after that, you’ll earn 5% back in rewards for every $1 you spend at Williams Sonoma. You’ll also have access to free standard shipping on all eligible purchases.

As a new cardmember, you’ll receive a $20 welcome certificate after you get your new card. Every year on your birthday, you’ll receive another $25 certificate. After earning $25 in rewards, you’ll get a $25 certificate to spend at Williams Sonoma.

There’s no annual fee for the Williams Sonoma store card, but the APR is high. Paying this high interest rate can easily be avoided, though, by not carrying a balance from month to month. This card is designed for people with fair credit.

Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard

The Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard gives card holders a pretty decent rewards structure. You can earn 5% back in rewards for every $1 you spend at Bed Bath & Beyond, buybuy BABY, Christmas Tree Shops andThat, Cost Plus World Market, and Harmon Face Values. You can also earn 2% back for every $1 you spend on gas and groceries, as well as 1% back for every dollar you spend anywhere else Mastercard is accepted.

Aside from rewards, Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard holders can choose between six or 12 months of interest-deferred financing, depending on the amount of the purchase. Keep in mind that if the purchase balance isn’t paid in full within the six- or 12-month promotional period or you make a late payment, the entire amount of deferred interest will be applied to your account.

New cardmembers can get a $25-off coupon for a purchase of $100 or more, and anytime you earn $10, you’ll receive $10 in rewards. For any spending done in the first six months outside of the aforementioned brands, you’ll receive a $25 gift certificate and an additional $75 gift certificate when you spend $1,000 and $6,000 respectively.

When it comes to your interest rate, you’ll be given a standard variable APR based on your creditworthiness at the time you apply for the card. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll need a good credit score to get approved.

The complete list of cards offered by Comenity Bank

Comenity Bank credit cards

Comenity Bank store cards

Getting approved for a card from Comenity Bank

The approval odds for store cards are known to be higher than traditional, unsecured credit cards. Just how likely your approval will be depends on the store, though. The same is true with Comenity cards.

If you have less-than-stellar credit, store cards can be a good option to help you work toward rebuilding your credit. Additionally, with store cards, credit limits are often lower, thus making your spending more manageable. Make sure you pay your balance in full every month, though, as store cards are also known for having very high APRs. While the credit score needed to be approved for store cards varies from one store to the next, applicants with fair credit scores are often approved.

When you applying for one of Comenity’s co-branded credit cards, you’ll be expected to have a higher credit score than what you would otherwise need for a store card. Since credit score requirements differ across stores, the best way to improve your odds of getting approved is to always practice good financial habits.

Some final words on Comenity Bank

Comenity store cards can be very useful for getting things like discounts and special types of financing, but they can also come with high APRs and excessive costs if you don’t pay off financing before deferred interest kicks in. Getting a store card might also be a good way to start creating a history if you have no credit; just make sure to pay your balances in full each month.

As with any credit card, use it responsibly and ideally pay the card off so you get the most possible benefit from the rewards or discounts it offers.

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