Athleta Credit Card: Fun Idea, But Not Worth the Trouble
Recommended in specific cases. Use the Athleta Credit Card cautiously. Requires special attention to on-time payments to avoid very high APR and/or fees. If you shop at Athleta or Gap brand stores very frequently, the 5% back in store credit can make it worth having this card in your wallet
Pros and Cons: Athleta Credit Card Rewards
Effectively a 5% rewards rate – a reasonable rate for a store card
You earn the 5% store credit rewards rate at all Gap inc brands – that’s Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, and Old Navy
No Annual fee
20% your first purchase with the card
You can use the card anywhere – not just at the Athleta store
Reputable issuer (Barclays)
Very high APR – 28%+ – like most store co-brand cards. Be careful to pay off your bill fully each month
Point are only valid at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy
3% foreign transaction fee
5% balance transfer fee
No real above and beyond special perks, compared to other cards
Athleta Credit Card Executive Summary: You Will Need to Spend Thousands of Dollars at Gap Brand Stores Annually to Make it Worth It
The Athleta credit card is an ok option for those who very frequently shop at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Their points scheme equates to a 5% store credit.
Let’s get into all the details ⏩ ⏩
But, if you do not frequently shop at any of these stores, the very high APR of the credit card likely makes this card not worth it. You will have to spend thousands of dollars per year at Gap brand stores (Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy) to make it worth earning the high 5% store credit, instead of other options like earning 1.5-2% cash back on a general purpose card.
Even if you are a frequent Athleta shopper, be sure to regularly pay off your balance to avoid the high-interest rate on this card and extra fees. Fortunately, there’s no annual fee to worry about, however.
For those who haven’t seen their rapid, recent rise, Athleta is a women’s activewear brand owned by Gap Inc., whose family brands include Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.
Athleta Features and benefits discussion
Let’s check out the benefits:
- You earn five points for every dollar spent at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Since 100 points = $1 of store credit, this equals a 5% store credit reward rate
- The Athleta credit card has no annual fee
- You can use this card anywhere, not just Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy – a benefit not seen in many store cards
- You’ll earn 20% off of your first purchase when you open the card (must be made within 14 days of account opening) – a good benefit if you can group your annual clothing purchase into one giant order
- Cardholders of the Athleta Rewards Mastercard get early access to special promotions and sales. To us, this just sounds like you will receive a lot of extra marketing materials and emails
Rewards include earning points for purchases outside of Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, and earning even more points for purchases at any of those stores. This is somewhat unusual among store cards, many of which only work in the specific store they are co-branded to.
The rewards rate for purchases outside the Gap inc brands works out to be about a 1% store credit. Not great for points portability and not competitive for what you can get with general-purpose cash back cards (about 1.5-2%)
Once you earn 100 points, you receive $1 to use toward a purchase at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, or Old Navy. You’ll also receive free shipping on all online orders if you spend $50 or more.
Additional Perks and Benefits
Additional perks and benefits of the Athleta credit card include:
- Early access to sales
- Exclusive offers available only to members
- Points are exchangeable as a store credit at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy
- Quarterly bonus points for frequent shoppers. These are capped at 500 points or about $5 of store credit, so barely worth mentioning
- Fraud liability protection for lost/stolen card
- Gaining bonus points when you shop at a family brand: if you shop at multiple Gap inc brands within the same year you can receive up to 2,000 points or $20, so again, such a small benefit it’s barely worth mentioning
Features and Benefits of the Athleta Credit Card
While you earn points for shopping outside of Gap Inc. brand stores, points for spend outside of Gap Inc stores are only worth about one cent for every dollar spent, making it difficult to rapidly accumulate points.
The basic benefits of the Athleta credit card include fraud liability protection so your money is shielded in case your card is missing or stolen.
The benefits of the Athleta credit card are especially good for frequent Athleta shoppers. If you love Athleta’s clothes, you will gain access to sales and exclusive shopping opportunities earlier than those without an Athleta credit card. You’ll also receive quarterly bonus points to use toward purchases, worth only a couple of dollars, though. And you will get free shipping on online orders of $50 or more.
If you are considering getting an Athleta credit card, try to apply for it on a day when you are planning on making an expensive purchase from Athleta. You will receive 20% off your first purchase, so save it for something very expensive.
Since the Athleta Rewards Mastercard has no annual fee, there’s not much cost to have it, other than the headache of another credit card login, tracking another payment schedule, and having one more card account to manage.
Fortunately, the issuer of this card is Synchrony bank, a large and well-knowm store brand credit card issuer. Synchrony bank is a generally reputable, public company.
Drawbacks and Cons
Here’s what to watch out for
Cons of the Athleta Rewards Mastercard
- This card’s APR is way higher than the current national average – but still about in line with most store cards’ APR
- Compared to other store cards, this one has about the same benefits as average – nothing really special or unique here
- There’s a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use this card outside of the US
The APR for purchases and balance transfers is 28.24% and the APR for cash advances is 29.24% – quite high for credit cards in general, but about average for store co-brand cards. You’ll definitely not want to carry a balance and actually incur interest charges with this card!
There is no annual fee for the Athleta credit card, but there is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% (whichever is greater).
Don’t use this card overseas!
You should avoid using your Athleta credit card overseas because the 3% foreign transaction fee.
The APR rate is much higher than average at over 28%, so this is not a card for users who tend to carry a balance. You should make sure you fully pay off your balance every month – make that payment on time!
The benefits of the Athleta rewards MasterCard are only valuable to users who spend a lot of money – think thousands annually, at Athleta and other Gap brand stores. If you do not spend a lot of time or money at Gap Brand Inc. stores, don’t apply for an Athleta credit card.
My in-store experience at a local Athleta
I recently went to my local Athleta to checkout what it owuld be like to get one of their credit cards.
The store was clearn and bright and the sales staff was friendly and helpful.
Fortunately, they did not ‘push’ the credit card on me, in fact, they seemed pretty apathetic as to whether or not I actually applied.
They were happy to answer questions about the card, but didn’t really encourage me to apply. They simply mentioned they were happy to take my information so I could apply in-store, or I could apply online if I wanted.
This leads me to believe that the sales staff isn’t given a commission for sign ups.
I did not see any special deals for signing up in-store, so if you’re going to apply for this card, it may be just as easy to apply online.
Final Thoughts on the Athleta Credit Card
While the headline rate of 5% rewards sounds like it’s substantially above the competition and may be worth it, we don’t think it is. You will need to spend thousands of dollars annually at Gap brand stores to make this worth it. If not, you are probably better off passing on the Athleta credit card. Consider getting a general purpose unlimited cash back card instead.
The Athleta rewards credit card is an ok choice for people who extremely frequently shop at Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.
Shopping at one of these stores will help you accumulate points quickly, but don’t forget that you can only cash in those points at one of those stores.
While the 5% store credit might be worth it if you shop for your whole family frequently at these stores, consider how much you will need to spend at these store to make it worth having another credit card to keep track of.
For example, if you used this card, instead of a 2% cash back general purpose card, and spent $1,000 at Athleta, you would have $50 of rewards instead of $20. That’s only $30 extra for spending $1,000 on clothes AND the whole $50 of rewards are only useable at Gap inc brands stores, not anywhere like cash back.
Probably not worth the hassle of imagining an extra credit card login and account.
Additionally, at over 28% This card has a very high APR, making it a risky choice for the average user. You will want to track your payment schedule very closely, so you don’t incur interest.
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Cody is the founder and owner of Personal Finance Guru. His day job is as a management consultant at one of the Top 3 firms (think Mckinsey, Bain), where he advises Fortune 500 C-suite clients on their most important and pressing business problems. He completed his business education at Harvard Business School.
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