By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

Beauty megastore Sephora now offers a rewards credit card that might be right for Sephora acolytes, but doesn’t measure up as an everyday credit card for the casual fan.

How It Works

When you apply for the Sephora credit card, you are actually agreeing to be considered for one of two cards:

  1. The Sephora Visa, which can used at Sephora and anywhere else Visa is accepted
  2. The Sephora Credit Card, which is accepted only at Sephora

You don’t choose which card you’ll get. Instead, Comenity Capital Bank, the bank that actually issues the card, will first consider you for the Sephora Visa. If your credit history is not strong enough to qualify, you’ll then be considered for the store-only Sephora credit card. In our view, this doesn’t matter much because using this card outside Sephora doesn’t make a lot of sense. (More on that in a moment.)

Rewards on Purchases

Let’s start with the card’s basic rewards, since that’s what you probably came for. Here’s what the Sephora credit card offers:

  • 4% (given as 4 points per dollar) on Sephora purchases made with the card
  • 1% (given as 1 point per dollar) on purchases made with the Sephora Visa (if you qualify for the Visa)

For every 125 points (called Rewards Dollars in the program), you’ll get a $5 reward that you can use toward a future Sephora purchase.



Other Goodies

  • 15% Off First Purchase (if card used immediately): The Sephora credit card offers the possibility of instant approval. If you are approved instantly and use the card for a Sephora purchase on the day of approval, you’ll get 15% off of the purchase.
  • $20 Rewards Bonus Opportunity: You can earn $20 in Sephora rewards if you are approved for the Sephora Visa and use it to spend at least $500 outside of Sephora within 90 days of getting the card. This equates to a 4% reward on that $500 spent, where the card usually only gives a 1% reward on purchases outside of Sephora.

Important Fine Print

A few important things to understand about the Sephora credit card rewards program:

  • Rewards Certificates Expire in 90 Days – When you’ve reach the 125 points required to get a $5 Reward, that Reward will be sent to you automatically. It will expire in 90 days from the date it was issued, a somewhat short “use it or lose it” window.
  • Reward Points Expire in 18 Months – If you earn reward points (again, called Rewards Dollars in the program) but don’t accumulate enough to earn a $5 Reward certificate, those points will expire 18 months after the date of the purchase on which they were earned.
  • Rewards “Stackable” In Store, But Not Online – You can use multiple $5 Rewards for a single purchase inside Sephora stores, but only one on purchases at Sephora.com.
  • No Extra Rewards at Sephora Inside JCPenney – If you make purchases with the Sephora credit card at a Sephora inside a JCPenney store, you will not get the 4% in rewards that you get at other Sephora stores. (We think you’ll still get 1 point per dollar, but we’re not entirely sure.)
  • Must Use Sephora Credit Card on Purchases When Redeeming Sephora Rewards – If you are redeeming one or more $5 Rewards, you must use your Sephora credit card to pay for the cost beyond the value of the Rewards. For example, if you redeem a $5 Reward on a $25 Sephora purchase, the other $20 must be charged to your Sephora card.
  • Interest Rate of 19.24% or 27.99% – The rate you get will depend on your credit history. Either way, you don’t want to be carrying a balance at either of these high rates (or on any credit card, for that matter).
  • No Annual Fee

Bottom Line: Should You Get It?

Overall, the Sephora credit card is mostly in line with other retail store credit card reward programs, which means it’s OK for the store’s biggest fans, but should not be anyone’s everyday credit card. The 4% reward on Sephora purchases is actually a little less than expected; most good retail rewards credit cards give 5% in rewards on purchases made at their stores. Earning 1% in rewards outside of Sephora is measly; most any other rewards credit card you might have could give you significantly more.

We’re no fan of credit card programs that dole out rewards certificates and then give you a limited time to actually use them. This card is no exception, though it does give you three months to use your reward, where some retailers only give 60 days.

Should you get it? Only if you think you’ll spend enough at Sephora to earn those $5 rewards certificates on a regular basis. It takes $125 in purchases at Sephora to get a $5 reward. Are you spending that much regularly? If so, the card makes sense. If not, we’d avoid it. There isn’t much value for the occasional Sephora shopper after you’ve used up the initial discounts and rewards for new cardholders.