Given the quantity these days of exceptional credit cards that offer broad-based travel rewards and cash-back benefits, I almost always find it difficult to recommend that anyone apply for a store-branded credit card … and that’s no different when it comes to the Forever 21 Visa credit card.
Unless you are forever in love with Forever 21, and you can’t imagine a sartorial life without this retailer clothing you, then you will find far better credit-card options that will give you much greater and broader benefits for the dollars you spend on clothing, and elsewhere.
Is Forever 21 Credit Card Good for Me?
Yes – but only if you are totally devoted to this brand. And that basically means you’re just past your teenage years (and eligible to apply for a credit card), you’re a parent being dragged into the store regularly by a teenager and constantly bombarded with questions from the cashier about applying for a credit card … or you’re in your late-20s and desperate to hang onto a younger, hipper image of yourself.
Otherwise, No. Definitely no.
By no stretch of the imagination is the Forever 21 Visa credit card a great, all-purpose card that will benefit you beyond occasional clothing purchases at Forever 21.
And, really, why do any of us get a credit card? For broad-based spending needs that give us truly valuable rewards germane to our lifestyle, like free travel or stacks of dollars in the form of cash-back benefits that we can spend how we wish.
So why limit your benefits to a single clothing store when other credit cards give you much better options?
Forever 21 Visa Credit Card: Benefits and Rewards
First, let’s be clear about what we’re discussing here.
Forever 21 has two credit cards on offer:
- A Forever 21 Store card that you can only use inside Forever 21 stores, or on the Forever 21 website;
- And a Forever 21 Visa credit card, which you can use at Forever 21 and wherever Visa credit cards are accepted around the world.
That’s what we’re talking about here – the Forever 21 Visa credit card.
When you use the card, you will receive:
- 3x points at Forever 21 purchases, either in-store or online.
- 2x points at restaurants.
- 1 point for spending on everything else.
For every 300 points you accumulate, Forever 21 will send you a $5 rewards certificate you can use on your next purchase at Forever 21.
On the face of it, that’s a fairly decent reward in that you’re earning as much as 5% cash back (this assume you spent $100 at Forever 21 and collected the 300 points from the 3x benefit this card offers).
The reality, of course, is less kind.
Unless you use a Forever 21 Visa singularly for your Forever 21 purchases, your real rate-of-return will be much less than 5%, and probably somewhere closer to 1.7% ($5 divided by $300 spent to earn 300 points).
There are numerous credit cards these days that will give you 1.5% to 2.5% cash back on all your purchases, such as Citi Double Cash Card (2%) and Alliant Visa Signature (2.5%). Better yet, those cards will allow you to use your cash-back benefits anyway you like, not just at Forever 21.
As for other benefits, the Forever 21 Visa credit card will give you:
- 20% off your first purchase at Forever 21 after receiving the card;
- 15% off your next purchase at Forever 21;
- A one-time, $10 bonus reward when you use your Forever 21 Visa in the first 90 days for any purchase that’s not at Forever 21 (not a bad deal, since you could go the post office, for instance, and buy a 55-cent postage stamp with your Forever 21 Visa and earn a $10 credit);
- A $10 birthday discount on a purchase of $25 or more;
- And 21% off your Forever 21 purchases during Forever 21’s birthday month, and during the anniversary month of your credit card.
Beyond that, there are no rewards that you can benefit from outside of Forever 21, which basically means you and your cash back rewards are locked into the Forever 21 universe.
What Credit Score Do I Need to be Considered for a Forever 21 Visa Credit Card?
For a Forever 21 Visa, a credit score generally in the range of 700 or above will suffice – which is the case for most store-branded credit cards.
What If I Don’t Get Approved for a Forever 21 Visa?
If you can’t qualify for this card, then it means you likely have impaired credit, and in that case, you should be looking at a credit card specifically aimed at consumers with poor credit or no credit history.
You’ve read this from me many times before, but one of the absolute best credit cards on the market today for building or repairing credit is the Capital One Platinum credit card. This card will charge you no annual fee and it offers an automatic credit-limit increase after five, consecutive on-time payments.
Those on-time payments and the credit-limit increase 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 Cards Do a Better Job Than Forever 21 Credit Cards?
Lots of cards are a better option than the Forever 21 Visa. But I’m going to assume you’re a consumer looking for cash-back rewards, particularly on clothing purchases.
Let’s start with the Citi Double Cash Card /, one of the best, all-around credit cards on the market today.
The Double Cash Card will give you 1% when you spend and 1% when you repay your outstanding balance, for a total benefit of 2% on every purchase, clothes and all.
There’s no signup bonus with the Citi Double Cash card, but there’s also no annual fee. Nevertheless, it’s the 2% cash back that’s in the spotlight here, because there are very few cards on the market that will give you a 2% return on unlimited spending.
Chase Freedom Unlimited will give you 3% cash back in the first year (on up to $20,000 in spending) and an unlimited 1.5% thereafter.
With Chase Freedom Unlimited, however, you can use your cash back for anything, which, to me, is far greater financial freedom than having to go back and spend more money at Forever 21 just to use the $5 reward certificate. There’s also no annual fee.
And then there’s the Alliant Visa Signature, an under-the-radar credit card from Alliant Federal Credit Union.
If you qualify for membership in the credit union (and it’s relatively easy to do), you can get the Alliant Visa Signature card that offers an unlimited 3% cash back in the first year, and then an unlimited 2.5% every year thereafter.
You will pay a $99 annual fee (waived in the first year), but even a modicum of spending in the first month or two means you will recoup your fee quickly.
And, finally, I will mention the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card. This card gives you tiered cash-back rewards:
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
- 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
- No foreign transaction fees
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Spend normally in your daily life on this card, and the cash back you earn will dump more money into your bank account than a $5 rewards certificate – and you can then earmark that cash back for your Forever 21 purchases, if you want, and be way ahead.
The Wrap Up: Should I Apply for the Forever 21 Visa Credit Card?
For me – and for any consumer who wants a well-rounded, all-purpose credit card with top-notch benefits – the Forever 21 Visa credit card is a hard pass.
This is simply not a well-rounded credit card. Its benefits are limited entirely to clothing purchases at Forever 21 – and you (or, more likely, your teenager) have to be a truly trendy shopper to want to deck out an entire wardrobe in nothing but Forever 21 garb. If that’s you – if you or your teen are a Forever 21 clothes horse – then, by all means, get this card. Just know that your benefits will never go beyond Forever 21. I
f, however, you want a credit card that gives you the freedom to choose how you use your benefits and rewards – or if you’re just an occasional Forever 21 customer – then do not hit “apply” for this card.