About the only reason you’d apply for an Avenue credit card is that you can probably obtain it if you have poor credit. But even that’s not a reason to make space in your wallet for this card.
Is the Avenue Credit Card Good for Me?
Its rewards and benefits are only useful at Avenue’s retail outlets or its online store. And even if you’re a true fan of this retailer’s fashions, this card gives you very little to get excited about.
All You Need to Know About Avenue Credit Card: Benefits and Features
First things first: The Avenue credit card is only useful for Avenue purchases.
This is a single-retailer affinity card. Unlike a traditional Mastercard, Visa or American Express, you’ll have no ability to use an Avenue card anywhere else you shop. No supermarkets, mini-markets, gas-stations, restaurants, etc. And you’ll not be able to use it for any online purchases other than Avenue.com.
That said … the basic Avenue credit card is the Avenue Premier Card.
Main Benefits of Avenue Premier Credit Card:
- 20% off your purchase when you’re approved. Meaning, this card is targeted at “impulse buyers” who want to save a few bucks at checkout.
- 40% off any one item on your birthday.
- A $10 Avenue Reward Certificate that arrives with your new card.
- Earn one point for every $1 spent, and receive a $10 Reward Certificate with every $200 spent, implying a cashback rate of 5%. To be clear, this is not real cash, but more on that in a moment.
Those are the extent of the meaningful benefits. The other “benefits” the company claims are pointless: Advanced notice of sales and special events. Additional cards at no extra cost. A detailed, monthly billing statement of your purchases. Really – that’s a benefit? Last I checked every credit card sends a detailed monthly billing statement of your purchases.
Anyway, spend $400 in 12 months on your Avenue Premier card and Avenue bumps you to the Avenue Elite card.
Main Benefits of Avenue Elite Credit Card:
- 50% off any one item on your birthday. (I scanned Avenue.com and the most expensive item I see, a dress, is about $84. So, relative to the “40% off any one item” you get with the Premier card, this Elite benefit means a savings of, at most, $8 or $9.)
- A $20 Rewards Certificate with your new card.
- The exact same one point per $1 spent, and the exact same $10 Reward Certificate for every $200 spent.
- One-time only, free standard shipping when using an Elite Reward Certificate.
Frankly, these rewards aren’t very rewarding.
What You Need to Know Before You Apply for Avenue Credit Card
I want to go back briefly and touch on the $10 Reward Certificate for every $200 spent…
Comenity Bank, which issues the Avenue credit card, points out hyperbolically on its application site that this is “5% back in rewards!”
Technically true. But in practical terms, not so much.
That $5 is not real money – not in the sense that you can deposit it in your bank account or use it to pay down your credit card balance.
In fact, Comenity’s fine print explicitly notes that Reward Certificates “have no cash value” and “may not be used as payment of any outstanding obligations to the Bank or its affiliates.” Translation: Don’t even think about using your certificate to repay the debt you’ve previously accumulated on your card.
Basically, you can only use your Reward Certificate to buy more stuff from Avenue.
Here is the worst part:
- Reward Certificates expire two months after the date of issue, and;
- Points expire 12 months after the date they’re posted, meaning that unless you keep spending regularly at Avenue, you risk losing all the potential benefits you’re accumulating.
That, to me, is not a worthy credit-card benefits program useful to any customer.
Credit Score You Need to be Considered
This is a credit card you should easily be able to obtain. You’ll need a credit score in the 650 range, which is “fair” credit. I have seen reports indicating that some consumers with scores as low the 617 have been approved.
So, assuming you really want this card, you should be able to get it.
Alternatives to an Avenue Credit Card for Poor or No Credit
At this point, I typically address alternatives to credit cards for which some consumers aren’t likely to qualify. However, there’s a very good chance you will qualify for an Avenue credit card. So, instead, let me address why you should seek a better credit card if you do have weak credit.
The Avenue credit card does not actively work to improve your credit, and if you have weak credit then improving your credit score is really what you should care about.
A better credit score will ultimately lower your borrowing costs elsewhere in life and give you the opportunity to apply for better credit cards with great financial and lifestyle benefits for you.
To that end, the Capital One Platinum card is just about the best credit card you can apply for if you have weak credit. Capital One built this card specifically to help consumers build or repair their credit. The Capital One Platinum card charges no annual fee and it offers an automatic credit-limit increase after five consecutive on-time payments – neither of which are applicable to the Avenue credit card.
Those two features of the Capital One Platinum card will bump up your credit score because of the way scores are calculated. That, in turn, will help you build or repair your credit fairly quickly.
You won’t earn any kinds of additional benefits – miles, cash-back, rewards points – nor will you receive any sort of signup bonuses with Capital One Platinum. But in a situation where you have no credit or bad credit, perks are not what you need.
Which Credit Cards Do A Better Job Than an Avenue Credit Card?
Right off the bat I’d say the Bank of America Cash Rewards card far exceeds the Avenue credit card. It gives you:
- 3% cash back in the category of your choice
- 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
- 1% on everything else.
The 3% cash option in select categories of spending competes well against the Avenue credit card. One of the categories you can choose is online-shopping. So, if you do occasionally shop at Avenue, then you could shop the website and earn 3% cash back on your purchases on the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.
Sure, it’s not 5%, but, then again, Bank of America returns to you real cash that you can then use to pay down your credit card balance, or dump into a bank account for any other financial purpose. Moreover, with Bank of America, you don’t risk losing your cashback benefit to an expiration rate. That alone is worth the loss of that extra 2% you’d otherwise earn with the Avenue card.
But wait … the Bank of America card makes up for that loss by giving you a $200 signup bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
If you do the math, the difference between Avenue’s 5% reward and Bank of America’s 3% cash back means that to out-earn the $200 signup bonus means you’d need to spend $10,000 at Avenue … and given that the most expensive item at Avenue is the $80 range, you’ve got a lot of shopping to do.
Second, I would point you to the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard.
With this no-annual-fee card, you’ll earn 3% cashback in the first year on the first $10,000 in spending. After that, it’s 1.5% on all your spending … plus HSBC gives you a 10% cash-back bonus on your card anniversary every year based on all cash rewards earned in the previous 12 months. So, earn, say, $500 in the previous year and HSBC drops another $50 into your account.
Again, this is less than the Avenue credit card’s 5% reward, but, again, Avenue has risks, namely that your reward points or your reward certificates expire, not to mention that you can only use your reward for more spending solely at Avenue.
The Wrap Up: Should you Get the Avenue Credit Card?
Not in this lifetime.
This card’s benefits are not very beneficial to you as a consumer. Simply put: You can do much better for yourself with a Bank of America Cash Rewards card or an HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard. Or, if you need help with your credit score, then the Capital One Platinum card is a much better offering.