5 Things to Know About the Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams Sonoma Credit Cards

While store discounts are nice, the charges for your new feng shui may be better suited for a general cash-back card. 

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Capital One issues a group of co-branded store credit cards for the Williams Sonoma family of retail brands, including Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams Sonoma. None of the cards carries an annual fee, and all of them earn “Key Rewards” that can be used across most of those Williams Sonoma brands.

Merchandise at places like Pottery Barn and West Elm is notoriously pricey, so brand loyalists who spend a lot of money with those retailers might eke out some value from these credit cards. But because redemption options are limited and inflexible, most people will be better off charging their new modern decor to a general cash-back credit card.

Here are five things you should know about the Key Rewards cards.

1. There are 2 versions of each credit card

Regardless of the particular Williams Sonoma brand that appears on the front of the credit card, they also all bear the name of the brand's Key Rewards customer loyalty program, and they all come in two possible varieties:

  • The Key Rewards credit card: This is a "closed-loop" card, meaning it can be used for purchases only within the Williams Sonoma family of retail brands.

  • The Key Rewards Visa credit card: This is an "open-loop" card that can be used anywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.

Note that if you apply for the Visa version but lack the credit history to qualify for it, Capital One will automatically consider you instead for the store-only card.

2. Reward rates are high, and bonus categories are useful...

Enrollment in the Key Rewards loyalty program is free, and membership automatically qualifies you for “Silver” status, which earns you 2% back in rewards on every purchase at eligible Williams Sonoma brands.

But Key Rewards credit card holders are upgraded to "Gold" status, which among other things allows you to earn 5% back on qualifying purchases within the Williams Sonoma brand (or you can choose a "promotional financing" offer instead. More on that below). And those who have the Visa version of the card will also earn the following rewards:

  • 4% back in rewards at grocery stores.

  • 4% back in rewards at restaurants (excluding fast-food restaurants, but including food delivery services).

  • 1% back in rewards everywhere else.

Those rates on food-related spending are generous, especially for a no-annual-fee store credit card with no spending or reward caps. But keep in mind that you're earning store rewards, which come with limitations, not cash back.

3. ...But redemption options are limited and inflexible

Rewards earned under the Key Rewards program are redeemable at seven stores within the Williams Sonoma family, including:

  • Pottery Barn.

  • Pottery Barn Kids.

  • Pottery Barn Teen.

  • Williams Sonoma.

  • Williams Sonoma Home.

  • West Elm.

  • Mark & Graham.

(Note that purchases at the Rejuvenation brand from Williams Sonoma are not eligible.)

That's a relatively large retail footprint, so in theory you'll have lots of opportunities to use your rewards. But you should understand the fine print.

First, there's a minimum redemption threshold of $10 in rewards. In fact, once you reach that threshold, your reward balances automatically convert to reward "certificates" in increments of $10. So you don't have much control over when you can redeem.

Worse, you're on the clock when it comes to redemption. Rewards that you earn with the card expire after two years of account inactivity, and reward certificates expire a mere 180 days from the date of issuance.

4. The cards can help you finance a purchase, but beware

The Key Rewards credit cards offer the option of "promotional financing" for 12 months on purchases of $750 or more. And given how expensive furniture can be, that can sound like an attractive way to pay for a fancy dresser or bed over time.

But this is an example of a deferred interest offer, which is common among retail credit cards, and it comes with potential pitfalls. Unlike a true 0% intro APR offer, where interest is waived, interest on these "promotional" or "special" financing offers still accrues in the background. And if you end up owing any money — even a few cents — on the purchase once that promotional period is over, then you'll also owe interest on that entire transaction, retroactive to the date of purchase.

As of this writing, the Key Rewards cards have APRs ranging as high as 28.49%, so that could be an expensive proposition.

If you need to finance a purchase with Williams Sonoma, you'd be better off looking for a true 0% intro APR credit card offer.

5. It’s still a store card

Discounts on consumer purchases are great, but store credit cards often come with lower credit limits, higher APRs and reward programs hampered by limitations and expiration dates.

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As an alternative to the Key Rewards cards, those with at least good credit (a 690 FICO score or higher) might qualify for a $0-annual-fee, general-purpose rewards card like the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card. Among other things, it offers the following:

  • 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter in two categories you choose (including, as of Q3 2022, "furniture stores").

  • 2% back in one "everyday" category that you choose (including, as of Q3 2022, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations).

  • 1% back on all other eligible net purchases.

You must activate those 5% and 2% bonus categories each quarter, but unlike the Key Rewards cards, you're earning true cash back on, potentially, furniture and food. And there's a true 0% intro APR offer: You'll get a 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR

Or you could consider the $0-annual-fee Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. It offers:

  • 3% cash back on a category of your choice (including "home improvement and furnishings") and 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 of combined bonus category/ grocery store/ wholesale club spending per quarter; after hitting that threshold, you’ll earn 1% back on these purchases.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

You can select your 3% cash-back category each month, and this card, too, offers a true 0% intro APR offer: You'll get a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 17.74%-27.74% Variable APR

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