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The Carter’s credit card follows a similar playbook as other co-branded store cards: It earns rewards at certain stores, and those rewards can be redeemed only toward more purchases at those stores. Like others of its kind, the Carter’s credit card is promoted at the register in tandem with a coupon that can be applied to the day’s order.
To a parent-to-be who has just loaded up on onesies and is staring down the exorbitant costs of raising a child, a discount can seem irresistible. However, behind that one-time coupon is a mediocre credit card whose usefulness is largely restricted to Carter’s purchases. And kids will grow all too quickly out of Carter’s clothes.
Here are five things to know about the Carter’s credit card, issued by Comenity Capital Bank.
1. It can be used at select stores only
The Carter’s credit card is closed-loop, which means it can be used to make purchases only at Carter’s and its affiliated brands, OshKosh, Skip Hop and Little Planet. While the chain does have stores in all 50 states plus its website, its footprint is small in the overall scheme of the household shopping you'll do.
If that feels too restrictive, consider open-loop cards such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which earns 2% cash back on every purchase, or the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. The Customized Cash has a complicated rewards structure — it earns 3% back in a category of your choice until you hit the quarterly cap of $2,500 in combined spending in the 3% category, grocery stores and wholesale clubs — but one of those 3% categories is online shopping.
2. The sign-up bonus is modest
If a credit card comes with a sign-up bonus, there’s typically only one. The Carter’s credit card comes with two, but neither are worth much. New cardholders get 30% off their first purchase made with the Carter’s credit card and another 20% coupon when the credit card arrives in the mail. Neither coupon can be combined with other offers.
True, there’s no spending requirement to earn either welcome offer on the Carter’s credit card, which isn’t the case with most rewards credit cards. However, a one-time coupon isn’t terribly valuable. If you spent $200 on your first Carter’s haul, a 30% off coupon would save you $60. Welcome offers on other credit cards can be $200 or more.
» MORE: Best credit card bonuses
3. The earnings are in a low percentile
The Carter’s credit card earns 2 points for every $1, except for a few times a year when the rewards rate increases to 3 points per $1 on triple points days. In-store purchases at Carter’s and OshKosh, and online purchases at carters.com, oshkosh.com, skiphop.com and carters.com/littleplanet that are shipped to the U.S. will earn points.
Rewards rates of 2x-3x aren’t exactly noteworthy. The best cash-back credit cards, for example, feature rates as high as 6%, and often, their rewards never expire as Carter's do (keep reading for details).
A good alternative to the Carter’s card is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It earns 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases on up to a $6,000 annual spend. (After that, the rewards rate drops to 1%. Terms apply.) With such a broad rewards category, the Blue Cash is much more versatile than the Carter’s credit card.
Carter's offers a free loyalty program called My Rewarding Moments that earns rewards for all shoppers who register. You'll earn more if you're also a Carter's cardholder, but combining the free loyalty program points and the rewards from a general card will be more beneficial for most shoppers.
4. Rewards are small and delicate (but not in a cute way)
Just as an infant grows to a toddler in the blink of an eye, rewards earned from the Carter's credit card can vanish just as quickly if you don't pay close attention.
Cardholders will receive a $10 reward coupon for every 150 points earned in a six-month period, meaning that one point is worth about .07 cent. That value is inferior to the best credit cards, which earn points worth 1 cent — or more.
The other bad news: Reward coupons expire after 45 days of their issue date. Points expire six months after being earned.
Rewards are sent via email within 14 days of hitting the 150-point threshold and may be applied toward in-store purchases at Carter’s and OshKosh, and online at carters.com, oshkosh.com and skiphop.com.
5. Cardholders get a few extra perks
Carter’s credit cardholders get free standard U.S. shipping on purchases paid for with the card. Orders made on carters.com, oshkosh.com, skiphop.com and carters.com/littleplanet qualify for free shipping. The card also comes with a free anniversary gift every year.