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BJ’s Perks Credit Cards – Why You Should Think Twice Before Click “Apply”

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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.

Here’s why…

What You Need to Know About BJ’s Credit Cards: Benefits and Features

First, you need to be a resident of one of 17 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 17 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 $55 membership fee, while the Perks Elite card charges $110.

For that $55 difference, the Perks Elite card offers 5% cash-back on most in-Club and purchases. The Perks Plus offers 3% cash back. 

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.

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 $55 fee to make any sense financially.

If you’re not spending that kind of money at 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 $10 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 in six, 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?

Cards with fixed rewards on all purchases are also competitive. The Citi Double Cash® Card gives 2% cash back on all purchases with an unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus another 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases. There’s no need to look out for rotating rewards categories, you simply spend, pay off and earn 2% back, all with no annual fee. If you can’t pay off the card balance in full each month, you will still earn cash back as long as you pay at least the minimum due on time.

Another good option from Citi is the Citi Rewards+® Card that offers 2X ThankYou® Points for purchases at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year. Once you reach the limit, you will continue earning 1X points, plus you will always earn 1X points on all other purchases. The welcome offer is 20,000 bonus points, and you will need to spend $1,500 in purchases within the first 3 months to qualify for it.

The card also has a unique round-up feature – all points will be rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. This benefit is especially great for those who make small purchases.

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% cash back on dining and entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, and 1% everywhere else. The cash you earn is real cash that you can use for whatever.

You’ll also get a one-time $200 cash-back signup bonus after you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening. 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 Customized Cash Rewards credit card.

This no-annual-fee card gives you 3% cash back in the category of your choice (like online shopping, gas, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%; and 1% cash back on everything else.

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 Flex℠ 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.

Additionally, you earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants and on drugstore purchases, and 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 $200 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.

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