JC Penney gift cards are readily available through gift card resellers for 25% off (or more). This is a nice, easy way to get an automatic 25% savings on all JCP purchases. If you’re willing to order online, though, you can do even better. Currently, the Chase Freedom card offers an extra 10 points per dollar for JCP purchases when you start your shopping within the Ultimate Rewards Mall (just until then end of July). Similarly, ShopAtHome currently offers 10% cash back when you start your JCP shopping within their portal.
With some merchants, points or cashback are not awarded when you pay with gift cards. However, I’ve recently received confirmation that both of the portals I mentioned do work with JCP purchases made with gift cards! Through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, HikerT made 100% of his purchase using gift cards and he used a free shipping coupon code, and he received all of the expected points. Through ShopAtHome, a reader named Steve made most of his purchase with gift cards and small percentage with a credit card. He received the full 10% cash back.
Step by Step
If you’re in the market for JCP stuff, do the following:
- Estimate the total price of all items you plan to buy (including taxes)
- Go to GiftCardGranny.com to find a gift card reseller with cards who’s value add up to the amount you plan to spend. I’ve had good luck buying from both Cardpool and PlasticJungle. I haven’t tried any of the others.
- If buying from Cardpool or PlasticJungle, start at TopCashBack and click through to the appropriate reseller. This will give you 2% to 4% in extra savings!
- Buy the gift cards you need to cover your purchase. If you plan to order online, you may find it easier (and faster) to order e-gift cards. I don’t know whether e-gift cards from JCP can be used in-store.
- When you are ready to make a purchase, log on to either the Ultimate Rewards Mall or ShopAtHome, then click through to JCP.
- Within JCP’s website, pick out what you need and then pay with your gift card(s).
Add it up
With the gift cards, you save 25% off of the total purchase (including taxes!). With the portals, you get back 10% of the pre-tax total. As an example, in a state with 6% sales tax, your tax-included savings would come to 34.4% (or more if you value Ultimate Rewards points higher than 1 cent each). You could save even more if you buy your gift cards after clicking through from TopCashBack.
If you’re in the market for clothes, furniture, housewares, etc. this can be a great way to stack discounts for big savings especially if you find items in which JCP already has a competitive price!
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months. Some exceptions that are NOT subject to the 5/24 rule include: British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Marriott Business, and Ritz Carlton.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status.
|Chase 5/24 semantics ("Subject to" vs. "Count towards"): Most (but not all) Chase cards are subject to the 5/24 rule. That means the rule is enforced in making approval decisions. In other words, you probably won't get approved if your credit report shows that you opened 5 or more cards in the past 24 months. Meanwhile, most business cards (such as those from Chase, Amex, Barclaycard, BOA, Citi, US Bank, and Wells Fargo) are not reported on your personal credit report. These cards do not count towards 5/24.
Chase IHG Card is not subject to 5/24 so it's easy to get. But after approval it will count towards your 5/24 total.
Chase Ink Business Preferred is subject to 5/24, so you likely won't get approved if over 5/24. If you do get approved, it won't count towards 5/24 since it won't appear as an account on your credit report.
|Amex 5 credit card limit: If you apply for a new Amex credit card, you may get turned down if you already have 5 or more Amex credit cards. Both personal and business cards are counted towards this limit. Charge cards, though, are not counted. You can apparently get as many charge cards as you’d like, and the number of charge cards you have does not affect your ability to get up to 5 credit cards. Authorized user cards are also not counted towards the 5 credit card limit. See also: Which Amex Cards are Charge Cards vs. Credit Cards?|
|Applying for Business Credit Cards
Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.
When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.
Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Legally, it's fine. And, anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards points are super valuable and super flexible. At the most basic level, points can be redeemed for cash or merchandise, but you'll only get one cent per point value that way. A better option is to use points for travel. When points are used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, points are worth 1.25 cents each with premium cards (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or 1.5 cents each with the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve card. Another great option is to transfer points from a premium or ultra-premium card to an airline or hotel program when high value awards are available (see this post for details). If your points are tied to a no-fee "cash back" Ultimate Rewards card, then first move those points to a premium or ultra-premium card before redeeming them in order to get better value.|
|Amex Membership Rewards points can be incredibly valuable if you know how to use them. In general, if you use Membership Rewards points to pay for merchandise or travel, you won't get good value from your points. One exception is with the Business Platinum card where you'll get a 35% point rebate when using points to book certain flights. This gives you approximately 1.5 cents per point value, which is pretty good. If you don't have the Business Platinum card, then your best bet is to transfer points to airline miles in order to book high value awards. More details can be found here: Amex Transfer Partners.|
|Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by the same guy who showed you how to fly round trip to Africa (DC to Senegal) for 50,000 points. You can find John’s website and award booking service here: theflyingmustache.com/awardbooking.
-Greg The Frequent Miler
Chase Application Tips
Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
|Caution: Plastiq has announced a temporary change to the way Visa credit cards are handled: