If you’ve ever shopped at The Children’s Place, chances are you’ve been asked to sign up for its My Place Rewards Credit Card. The customer service person probably talked up the rewards, and they probably sounded pretty convincing.
Should you sign up for The Children’s Place credit card? That depends.
What should you consider?
Generally speaking, store-branded credit cards are the easiest ones to get if you’re trying to build credit or are trying to rebuild credit after a financial disaster. For this reason, getting the My Place Rewards Credit Card might be a good idea.
But only if you use it strategically. Shopping too much to improve your credit score isn’t a good idea, especially if some months you’re spending more than you can afford to pay in full.
However, you might want to get The Children’s Place credit card even if you’ve already got good credit. It does offer some decent perks to people who love shopping there. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.
Store credit card pros and cons
The good, the bad and the potentially ugly:
Pro: Easier to get
Again, if you don’t have credit in your own name or want to fix your credit score, a store credit card could be a good way to get started. Some users report having gotten the My Place Rewards Credit Card with FICO scores as low as 525. Use it correctly and you will likely see an impact.
Con: Not the best rates or limits
Overall, a store card will usually have a lower credit limit and an interest rate on the higher end. As of Q4 2019, the average store card had a 27.52% APR, whereas other kinds of cards had an average of “just” 15.10% APR. Currently the My Place Rewards Credit Card has a 27.99% APR.
Some users report getting an initial $300 to $500 limit on the My Place Rewards Credit Card. With a limit that low, it can be easy to overuse the card (more on that below).
Pro: Earn where you shop.
The My Place Rewards Credit Card has a nice rewards program. It gives you 2 points for every $1 spent. Each 100 points can be traded in for a $5 store credit. A cardholder can use multiple rewards at a time; for example, cashing in $20 worth of $5 credits to put toward school uniforms or birthday gifts. You can also combine them with other rewards like digital coupons.
Con: Can only be used at TCP
The My Place Rewards Credit Card is a “closed loop” card, which means it can be used only to buy stuff from The Children’s Place. Usage options are pretty limited.
Pro: “Welcome” rewards
When you’re approved for the credit card offer, you’ll get a 30% off discount to use on your first purchase. You’ll also get a 20%-off coupon when the card is mailed to you.
Con: Credit card rewards don’t translate
These discounts can’t be used anywhere except TCP. Which is fine if you combine them with a good sale to get things your kids needed anyway.
Pro: Can use the card online
Don’t want to drag your littles off to buy school clothes? You don’t have to! If you’re clear on their sizes and tastes (or the color schemes of your school’s uniforms), just hit up your online account and shop away. Pay with the My Place Rewards Credit Card.
Con: Shopping online can be a little too easy
Shopping for children’s items used to mean driving to a mall, parking, moving from rack to rack, trying to get your wiggly 5-year-old to try something on, and deciding which things to keep and which to take to the front register. Pointing and clicking is so much simpler.
Maybe that’s not a good thing. Maybe we need a little skin in the game to be able to think, “Is this the right shirt/pair of chinos/spring jacket for kidlet?” – as opposed to, “Oh, man, my nephew loves Batman, I should totally get him that watch!” and then clicking a button.
Pro: You get free shipping
That’s a nice bonus, since it can save you $10 or more per order.
Con: Free shipping is already common
You don’t need a credit card to get free shipping these days. Online retailers want your business and are always offering a promo code if they don’t already have free standard shipping. Also see “a little too easy,” above.)
Pro: No cost to get this card
Some rewards cards carry annual fees.
Con: No downside to this one!
Avoid these mistakes
Does it seem that the card’s rewards are so great you’d be foolish not to get one? Or that it’s essential to build credit or re-establish it, and you have to start somewhere?
Both those things might be true! However, keep these potential issues in mind:
It’s tempting to hyper-focus
After all, you’ll be “building credit” if you do all of your future holiday, birthday and just-because gift shopping at one place. And truth be told, The Children’s Place does have some pretty amazing sales.
However, if at least some of those gifts would be more affordable in a different store, then you’re not helping your budget at all by focusing your shopping on this credit card.
It’s easy to overuse
Your “credit utilization ratio” is the amount of your available credit that’s being used. You should never use more than 30% and ideally, you should never use more than 10% at any given time.
Using the $300 to $500 card limits mentioned earlier, that would mean you’d be limited to spending $30 to $50 a month with the card. That wouldn’t go far toward, say, outfitting two kids with polos and khakis for the new school year. (Though that’s much less of an issue if you pay your balance in full each month.)
The credit utilization ratio has the second-largest impact on your FICO score. Overusing the card is not a good idea.
It’s easy to splurge
You see the most adorable ensemble at The Children’s Place and you can’t help thinking, “Oh, my daughter/niece/granddaughter would look so cute in that! I know I shouldn’t, but …”
Try it this way: Suppose the clothing, accessories and shoes in question cost $50. Would you be willing to take five $10 bills out of your wallet on the spot to pay cash for the purchase? Possibly not, if you’re trying to stick to a budget and/or coming back from some financial hardships like illness or layoffs.
Plastic can make it so easy to overindulge – and the fact that we’re envisioning our beloved kidlets in these items makes it so easy to think, “I’ll find some way to pay it off later.”
Which of course can lead to another common line of thinking … that it’s OK to just make the minimum payments on your card each month.
There’s a persistent rumor that this improves your credit score. It doesn’t! Don’t. Carry. A. Credit card balance. Ever.
Shop carefully – but do shop
Just having the credit card isn’t enough to improve your credit score. You have to use it regularly, and pay it off in full and on time, for the card to have any effect.
If your life is hectic with kids and school and work and such, be proactive and automate a minimum monthly payment. Then, you won’t be hit with a late fee on the off chance you forget to make a payment on time. Keep in mind that on-time payments represent 35% of your FICO score.
And if you do happen to forget to pay? Make another payment as soon as you remember. In fact, you can make a payment every week if you want to.
One card leads to another?
After you’ve been using the My Place Rewards Credit Card for a while, don’t be surprised if you start getting offers from other credit card issuers. This can be a pleasant surprise, especially if you’re coming back from a rough time with your finances.
Don’t take the first one you see. Instead, do some research on the best cards for someone like you. There are lots of great cards out there, with zero account fees and decent rewards. Choose carefully before you apply, because each application means a “hard pull” on your credit report – the card issuer will contact the major credit reporting bureaus, and this inquiry will shave a few points off your credit score.
Finally, look at the reasons for your previous credit issues. Did you have a “thin file” because you always paid cash, or a trashed credit score because of a serious illness that cost your family a ton of money? Those things are different from, say, having had a poor credit score due to overspending or not having a budget. Contact the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling if you need help getting your money habits in gear.
Should I get a My Place Rewards card?
The My Place Rewards Credit Card can be a good choice if you regularly shop at The Children’s Place. It’s also a potentially good way to get back into the credit scoring game.
Pay attention to the caveats in this article before you take the card, though. Be honest with yourself about whether it’s really the right thing to do.
And if it is? Have fun shopping at The Children’s Place. Those clothes really are adorable.
-By Donna Freedman