Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Looks for good quality at a fair price while buying for the household See more cards
Loves being the first to try something new See more cards
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
If you spend a decent chunk at Banana Republic or other stores in the Gap network (Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, or Hill City) and you aren’t apt to run a balance on your credit card, the rewards on this card—even with the hoops you’ll have to jump through—may be worthwhile, assuming you have the patience.
You’ll get a solid 5% back in rewards toward future purchases, plus special offers and perks. What’s more, since Banana Republic actually offers three cards—this one (only good for store purchases) and two Visa cards—there’s a chance you’ll be approved for at least the store-only card if your credit is less than perfect. (If you’re approved, you’ll find out for which card at that point.)
Lots of perks
Luxe cardmember status after spending $1,000 in a year
Accessible to those without great credit
High ongoing interest rate
Confusing rewards program
Unclear application process
- Lots of perks: You’ll earn $5 in Banana Republic rewards for each $100 you spend at Banana Republic and other Gap-network stores. You’ll also get access to special sales, a birthday gift, a one-time bonus for signing up for the Banana Republic email list, and a 20% discount on your first online purchase with the card.
- Luxe cardmember status after spending $1,000 in a year: If you charge at least $1,000 in a given calendar year at any of the Gap brands, you’ll unlock the Luxe rewards level. This gives you free three-to-five day shipping on online orders, a 20% rewards boost at the end of each quarter, free in-store basic alterations, and a choose-your-own-sale day.
- Accessible to those without great credit: Unlike the Banana Republic Visa Card and invitation-only Gap Inc. Visa Signature Card, this store-only card may be available to people with just a fair credit score.
- High ongoing interest rate: This card comes with a very high APR relative to other rewards credit cards, and even other store cards, which typically have the steepest rates. That means it’s best not to carry a balance. Instead, plan to pay off the card each month to make sure interest charges don’t erase the benefit of your rewards.
- Confusing rewards program: Your spending is translated into points, which are then converted into rewards that you can use to knock dollars off your Banana Republic purchases. It sounds simple enough, but at each stage of this process there are limits and rules that make the program complicated to follow. (More on this below.)
- Unclear application process: If you’re approved, you’ll either get this store-only card, or the Banana Republic Visa Card, which can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. There’s no way to specify which one you want, or to know which one you’ll get before applying. This isn’t unusual for store cards, but the lack of transparency is nonetheless unfortunate.
Bonus for New Cardholders
Like many store cards, you won’t get a bonus for spending a certain amount in your first months, but you will get a discount code for 20% off your first online purchase. The catch is that you have to use it within 90 days.
Earning Points & Rewards
The mainstay of the rewards program is earning points from purchases at Gap Inc. stores. For every $1 you spend at any Gap store (Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, Hill City, and yes, Banana Republic), you’ll earn 5 points in your Banana Republic rewards account, with no cap on how many points you can earn. Each point is worth 1 cent, so this translates into an effective cash-back rate of 5%—a rate on par with many store credit cards.
If you get offered the Banana Republic Visa Card, you can also earn 1 point per $1 spent anywhere else. It’s not much, but it’s something.
The card offers you up to 1,000 points for signing up for its marketing emails and its eBill service. It also offers special “bonus points shopping days,” although there’s no way to know in advance how many bonus points you’ll get or when these dates will be, so take this perk with a grain of salt. You do get an unspecified “surprise birthday gift” too, but again, it’s tough to know how good this will be in advance.
Banana Republic has a special customer rewards program for big spenders. If you earn at least 5,000 points in a year (in other words, if you spend at least $1,000 in-store), you’ll be upgraded to the Banana Republic Luxe program. This gives you a 20% boost in your points at the end of every calendar quarter, a choose-your-own- sale day, free three-to-five day shipping for online orders, and free in-store basic alterations, too.
It’s worth noting that if you have a rewards account at, say, Old Navy and you use your Banana Republic card to pay, those points will still go into your Banana Republic account, not to your Old Navy rewards account.
Unfortunately, the redemption process is rather wonky. Your points don’t translate into simple cash back like with many other rewards programs, and of course, you can’t spend the cash anywhere but Banana Republic.
Instead, each month your points balance is converted into “Rewards.” For every 500 points you earn (in other words, for every $100 you spend on purchases at Gap Inc. stores), you’ll get $5 in Rewards. These Rewards (like a gift certificate) can be up to $50 each (issued in $5 increments). For example, if you spend $300 in store, you will earn 1,500 points, or a $15 Reward. (You can get a maximum of $250 in rewards each month; any leftover points will roll over to the next month to continue building up.)
Think of each Reward like a gift certificate because it’s applied separately to your purchases. If you earn a $25 Reward in June and a $5 Reward in July, you can apply both for a total of $30 off your next Banana Republic purchase.
The downside is that you can only combine three Rewards to get discounts on purchases in-store or by mail, or five Rewards if you’re making the purchase online or over the phone. So if you don’t use your card frequently or make big purchases, you may wind up with a bunch of $5 Rewards. That means you’d only be able to save a maximum of $15 to $25 in a given transaction.
The final catch is that any other promotional offers also count toward the limit. So, for example, if you get a 10%-off discount code as a card perk, you can only use two other Rewards in-store, or four Rewards certificates online.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
If you opt for this card, make sure to use it for any purchases within the Gap family of stores, and pay off the balance in full each month to avoid the high interest rate.
That said, you may be better off with a general cash-back card if you have good credit. There are plenty of cards that offer up to 5% cash back on a broader range of everyday spending categories, and the cash can be used anywhere, and without as complex a rewards program.
Make sure to use your Banana Republic Card at least once every 24 months. Otherwise, your points will expire.
Unfortunately, Synchrony Bank is not well regarded when it comes to customer service. A 2019 J.D. Power study ranked Synchrony Bank near the bottom of all major credit card issuers, with a score of just 780 out of 1,000. The industry average score was 806.
One bright spot is that you can use the Banana Republic mobile app to view your account and see your current rewards status. This can be handy if you’re in-store and need to see what, if any, rewards you have available.
This card doesn’t have especially outstanding security features. It’s safe to make purchases, yes, but don’t expect any of the advanced features that other cards offer, like free Social Security number monitoring, virtual credit card numbers for online purchases, or the ability to lock your card in the app if you lose it.
Fees to Watch Out For
Take care to pay off your bill in full each month, because otherwise, you’ll spend a fortune on interest. In addition, if you qualify for the Banana Republic Visa Card instead, leave it at home if you travel abroad because it charges a foreign transaction fee.