Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Looks for good quality at a fair price while buying for the household
Loves being the first to try something new
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you already spend a decent chunk at Banana Republic or other stores in the Gap network (Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, or Hill City), and you’re looking to earn something back for that cash, this card may be a good option for you.
Banana Republic actually offers three cards: the Banana Republic Card (only good for store purchases), the Banana Republic Visa Card, and the invitation-only Banana Republic Visa Signature Card. This range of options means that there’s a good chance you could be approved for a card regardless of your credit score.
Lots of perks
Luxe cardmember status after spending $1,000 in a year
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 for spending $1,000 in a year: If you use your card to spend at least $1,000 in a given 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% points bonus once a quarter, free in-store basic alterations, and a choose-your-own sale day.
- High ongoing interest rate: This card comes with a super-high APR. It’s best not to use it to carry a balance. Instead, plan to pay off the card each month to earn the rewards without paying interest.
- 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 on how your spending flows through an awkward portal, which makes the entire program complicated to follow.
- Unclear application process: When you apply for the Banana Republic credit card, you’ll get either one of two cards if approved: the Banana Republic Card, which can only be used in-store; 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.
Banana Republic Credit Card’s Sign-Up Bonus
The Banana Republic Card and the Banana Republic Visa Card don’t have true sign-up bonuses. However, if approved for either card, you’ll get a discount code for 20% off your first online purchase. The catch is that you have to use it quickly, as it expires within 90 days.
Earning Points & Rewards
There are several ways you can earn points with a Banana Republic credit card, and it varies by which card you have.
However, for all cards, 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. 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. Each point is worth roughly 1 cent, so this translates into an effective cash-back rate of 5%.
If you have the Banana Republic Visa Card, you can also earn 1 point per $1 spent anywhere else. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Make sure to use your card at least once every 24 months. Otherwise, your points will expire.
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 how many bonus points you’ll get or when these dates will be in advance, so take this perk with a grain of salt. You do get an unspecified “surprise birthday gift” too, and 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% points-bonus every quarter, a choose-your-own sale day, free 3-5 day shipping for online orders, and you can get free in-store basic alterations, too.
Unfortunately, the rewards redemption program is rather wonky. Your points don’t translate into simple cash back like with many other rewards programs. Instead, each month your points balance is converted into “Rewards.”
For every 500 points you earn (or, for every $100 you spend on purchases at Gap Inc. stores), you’ll get a $5 Reward. These are issued in $5 increments up to $50, and you can only get a maximum total of $250 in rewards each month. For example, if you spend $300 in store, you will earn 1,500 points, and your points will be converted into a $15 Reward.
If you have left over points after the rest have been converted into a Reward, or if you really spend a lot of money and still have points left after your $250 Reward for the month is issued, then those points will roll over to the next month to continue building up.
You can 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 apply three Rewards to purchases in store or by mail, or five Rewards if you’re making the purchase online or over the phone.
If you don’t use your card frequently or make big purchases, you might end up with a bunch of $5 Rewards. And since the number of rewards you can redeem at one time is limited, you may only have the opportunity to save $15 in-store or $25 online.
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 always 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 charges. Given how complex the rewards program is and how many chances there are for unrewarded spending to slip through the cracks, you may be better off with a more traditional cash-back card. Without much effort you can find cards that offer up to 5% cash back on a broader range of spending than the Banana Republic cards do.
Banana Republic Credit Card’s Other Features
The Banana Republic Card doesn’t come with any other perks. If you qualify for the Banana Republic Visa Card, on the other hand, you get access to rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy).
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.
Synchrony Bank won’t hold you responsible for unauthorized charges with its cards, but the policy is not as sweeping as Visa’s zero fraud liability policy. That’s unfortunate, because the bank’s fine print notes that Visa’s zero fraud liability policy does not apply to Gap Inc purchases made with the Banana Republic Visa Card.
Banana Republic Credit Card’s 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, leave it at home if you travel abroad because this card charges a foreign transaction fee.