5 Things to Know About the American Eagle Credit Card

It may not be worth the effort to figure out this card’s complicated rewards structure when the point values are so low. 
Jae Bratton
By Jae Bratton 
Edited by Kenley Young

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As far as store credit cards go, the American Eagle credit card doesn't exactly soar above others.

Like many other store cards, it has a $0 annual fee, a high annual percentage rate and a modest sign-up bonus. What's different about this card is its rewards structure, and that's not a good thing if you like simplicity. American Eagle customers tend to be teens and young adults who may be new to credit cards, so the hard-to-remember rules aren't ideal.

Other credit cards — especially general-purpose rewards credit cards — have a more streamlined way of earning rewards and better redeeming options.

Here are five things you need to know about the American Eagle credit card.

1. There are 2 versions of the American Eagle credit card

You can apply for one of two American Eagle credit cards, both of which bear the name of (and earn points in) American Eagle's customer loyalty program, Real Rewards:

  • The Real Rewards by American Eagle & Aerie Credit Card. This card is usable only at American Eagle Outfitter locations, including Aerie, Offline by Aerie, and American Eagle and Aerie Factory stores.

  • The Real Rewards by American Eagle & Aerie Visa Card. This card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

If you have the American Eagle Visa card and use it for purchases outside American Eagle and its affiliated stores, you'll earn 5 points per $1 on those transactions. But the rewards structure becomes more complicated regarding American Eagle purchases.

Both versions of the card are issued by Synchrony Bank.

2. Rewards rates vary based on your loyalty status ...

The American Eagle credit card rewards structure is challenging to follow because it's tied, among other things, to the Real Rewards loyalty program.

Real Rewards is free to join and — with the credit card or without — you can earn points in the program on spending with American Eagle. But there are three tiers of Real Rewards membership, and the higher you climb, the more Real Rewards points you earn.

New American Eagle credit card holders begin at Level 2 of 3, so they'll amass rewards more quickly. Half of their points come from the Real Rewards program, while the other half comes from the credit card itself.

Level 1

Level 2 (automatic for cardholders)

Level 3 (cardholders who spend $350 a year at AE)

Points earned at American Eagle via the Real Rewards program

10 points per $1.

15 points per $1.

20 points per $1.

Points earned at American Eagle via the credit card

N/A (cardholders automatically enter at Level 2).

15 points per $1.

20 points per $1.

Total points earned

10 points per $1.

30 points per $1.

40 points per $1.

3. … As well as your penchant for buying jeans

Things get more rewarding — and confusing — if you buy jeans.

For holders of an American Eagle credit card, your rewards rate is doubled when you buy American Eagle jeans with it. (AE describes this as 4x the base rate of the credit card, which is 15 points per $1.)

That means cardholders at Level 2 get 60 points per $1 on jeans purchases; Level 3 cardholders get 80 points for every $1 spent on AE jeans. So, let's say you purchased a $50 pair of jeans and a $25 shirt from American Eagle. Level 2 cardholders would get 3,000 points for the jeans and 750 points for the top. Level 3 cardholders would earn 4,000 points for the jeans and 1,000 points for the top.

Level 1 (no credit card)

Level 2 (cardholders)

Level 3 (cardholders who spend $350 a year at AE)

Points earned on American Eagle jeans

20 points per $1.

60 points per $1.

80 points per $1.

Points earned on everything else at American Eagle

10 points per $1.

30 points per $1.

40 points per $1.

4. Point values are poor, and redemption is inflexible

Yes, it's possible to earn a pile of points on your American Eagle spending, but that's pretty much where the good news ends.

For starters, you'll need a minimum of 1,250 Real Rewards points, which will get you a "$5 Off Reward" that you can redeem at American Eagle and eligible sub-brands. That means points have a value of just four-tenths of a cent each — far lower than the industry standard of a penny per point.

Secondly, those rewards are issued automatically in increments of $5 and only up to a max of $60 at a time. (A "$60 Off Reward" would require 15,000 points.) So you can't redeem points on your timetable, nor can you "bank" them for a large purchase greater than $60.

Lastly, there are expiration dates for both points and those auto-issued rewards. Points will expire if you don't make at least one purchase within a "375-day rolling period"; rewards expire 60 days from the date of issuance.

Those are not customer-friendly terms.

5. Cardholders receive some money-saving perks

The American Eagle credit card comes with the following benefits:

  • 30%-off coupon when you open and use the American Eagle credit card. (Cannot be combined with any other coupon or a discount code.)

  • "Pick your own sale" day.

  • Exclusive access to sales.

  • A birthday coupon.

  • Free shipping and returns when you use the American Eagle card to purchase.

  • Ability to choose from one of three card designs.

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