Let’s be blunt about this: the BJ’s Wholesale Club credit cards look like they’d be a pretty good option, particularly if you’re a regular shopper at one of the company’s warehouse stores.
But the reality is that BJ’s two credit cards aren’t really worth the application effort. So, right here we can answer the primary question: Is a BJ’s credit card good for me?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer is maybe, but leaning heavily towards no.
What You Need to Know About BJ’s Credit Cards: Benefits and Features
First, you need to be a resident of one of 16 states for a BJ’s credit card to make sense – basically every state on the Atlantic Seaboard from Florida to Maine, plus Ohio. Don’t live there, then there’s no point in reading beyond this period.
If you do live in one of the 16 states, then you can apply for one of two BJ’s credit cards:
- BJ’s Perks Plus
- BJ’s Perks Elite
Neither card imposes an annual fee, but they both require that you pay a membership fee to access BJ’s Wholesale Club stores. The basic Perks Plus card charges a $50 membership fee, while the Perks Elite card charges $100.
For that $50 difference, the Perks Elite card offers 5% cash-back on most in-Club and BJs.com purchases. Perks Plus offers 3%.
That’s the only difference between the two cards. Otherwise, they both offer:
- 2% cashback on dining and gas purchases away from BJ’s
- $0.10 cashback on each gallon of gas bought at BJ’s;
- 1% cashback on everything else.
After the first year, your membership renewal is $40 for the basic Perks Plus card and $75 for Perks Elite.
This effectively means that in Year One you need to spend $2,500 at BJ’s (a bit more than $200 a month) for that extra $50 fee to make any sense financially.
In every subsequent year, you need to spend $1,750 ($146 month) to compensate for the membership fee difference between the two cards
If you’re not spending that kind of money a BJ’s, then the Perks Elite is pointless.
The Biggest Flaw with the BJ’s Credit Cards
Even if you are spending that kind of money at BJ’s, the cards come with what I consider a nonstarter. The cashback is not real cash – it’s a voucher you can only use at BJ’s.
You can redeem vouchers in $20 increments, and they expire after six months, so you can’t forget you have them. And the earnings themselves expire after 36 months from the day you earned them.
In practice, the vouchers are cash-adjacent in that, if you’re a loyal BJ’s customer, you’ll be able to use those vouchers for your regular purchases.
But I don’t want a cash-back rewards program limiting how I can use my money. I might want to use a rewards program as a way to forcibly save for a vacation – to help pay for airfare or hotel or whatever.
With vouchers that limit me to BJ’s purchases, the card, and the rewards program, to me, become all but useless.
And though this is but a minor point, BJ’s offers no cash-back signup bonus, which are commonplace these days with far better cash-back credit cards you can apply for.
What Credit Score Do I Need to Apply for A BJ’s Credit Card?
Regardless of which BJ’s credit card you apply for, at a minimum you will need “good” credit, so basically a score north of 670 or so.
If you have a credit score below that, then you should be looking at the Capital One Platinum credit card.
As I routinely note, the Capital One Platinum card is one of the absolute best for subpar credit.
It imposes no annual fee and it offers an automatic credit-limit increase at five, consecutive on-time payments.
The on-time payments and the credit-limit increase will bump up your credit score because of the way scores are calculated.
You won’t get any miles or cash-back or signup bonuses with Capital One Platinum, but in a situation where you’re trying to build or repair your credit, perks are not what you need.
What Credit Cards are Better Than BJ’s Credit Cards?
The best overall, no-fee card to compete against either of the BJ’s credit cards is Capital One SavorOne.
You’re going to get 3% cashback on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% everywhere else. The cash you earn is real cash that you can use for whatever.
Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
- No foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
You’ll also get a $150 cash-back signup bonus after you spend $500. That same $500 in spending with a BJ’s credit card is worth, at most, between $15 and $25.
Equally good is the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card.
This no-annual-fee card gives you 3% cashback on gas and your choice of one of five other spending categories, including online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, and home improvement/furnishings; 2% cashback on groceries and wholesale clubs; and 1% on everything else.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- + 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
- + 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
- + 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Online $150 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
- You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
- There's no annual fee and your cash rewards don't expire. Each month, as you plan for future purchases, you can change your 3% choice category online or through our mobile app.
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to
25% - 75%
- 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
You’ll also pick up $200 in a cash-back signup bonus after spending $1,000. With the BJ’s card, that will get you, at most, $50.
And, as with the better cash-back cards, this is real cash you spend however you like.
And cards such as Chase Freedom will give you 5% each quarter on up to $1,500 in rotating categories which often overlap the kind of spending one would do inside a BJ’s Wholesale Club. The categories so far this year have included gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, and home-improvement stores.
You get 1% on everything else. The cashback never expires as long as your account is open, and you can redeem any amount. And you’re picking up $150 in cashback signup bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.
The Wrap up: Should I Apply for a BJ’s Credit Card?
I don’t see any compelling reason you would.
You can find credit cards with equally appealing cash-back offers on the things the typical BJ’s Wholesale Club pedals.
And best of all … all of them give you real cashback, either as credit applied to your monthly credit card balance or as a direct deposit into your bank account.
In the final analysis, a BJ’s credit card only makes sense if you are a heavy user of BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, and you don’t mind getting vouchers that you can only use at a BJ’s outlet (assuming you don’t forget you have the voucher).
But if you’re only an occasional BJ’s shopper, or you want to use a cash-back program to drop money into your savings account or to accumulate money you can apply to a big purchase such as a vacation, then a BJ’s card is absolutely not a credit card you should apply for.