If you shop at Petco, there is a good chance that you've heard about the Petco Credit Card. It offers frequent shoppers the ability to earn rewards redeemable with the pet care chain by earning points buying things they would normally be buying anyway. There are a few things to know before applying, however, starting with the fact that there are two different versions of the Petco Credit Card.
The Petco Credit Card comes in two types, with distinct benefits and drawbacks. When you earn rewards on smaller purchases or choose rewards on larger ones, you earn points relatively quickly. Using your points is a challenge since they eventually expire, and point redemption isn't very flexible.
We're going to take a look at all of the features and benefits of the Petco Credit Card, along with any drawbacks. There are some circumstances in which this card may be perfect and many in which you may be better off with another rewards program.
Petco Credit Card Review
The Petco Credit Card is a reasonably good niche rewards card. It can help users get better products and care for their pets by redeeming earned rewards for additional products or services at Petco stores. There are two versions of the card that can be used to differing effects at earning points, though each of them also has areas where they excel in their role.
Overall, the points accrual is fair and on par with many other similar niche rewards credit cards, and when combined with the Petco Pals system, earns the user up to 7% back. The problem is that, unlike many other major points or rewards systems, the points eventually expire, so you're forced to use them, however incrementally, to avoid simply throwing them away.
The "use it or lose it" rewards model is incredibly outdated and overshadows the potential benefits unless you're a heavy spender and accumulate rewards quickly. Petco also donates twenty-five cents to the Petco Foundation every time you purchase with the Petco Credit Card, which is an animal welfare non-profit organization.
Where Can I Use My Petco Credit Card
Your Petco Credit Card will be able to be used for credit purchases in a variety of locations, depending on which version of the card you have. The Petco Pay Credit Card operates differently than the Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card and is more limited in its scope.
Petco Pay Credit Card
The Petco Pay Credit Card is the closed-loop version of the Petco Credit Card, and it can only be used with Petco specifically or associated stores.
Closed-loop credit cards will often not have a predetermined limit, but they will have much different interest rates and late payment terms than traditional credit cards. An example of a situation where the Petco Pay Credit Card would be better than the Mastercard version is when it's being used for pet-related expenses for someone with a pet business or with many pets. The closed-loop card would focus their rewards-earning power since they will be shopping there constantly and spending substantial amounts of money.
Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card
The Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card will earn rewards just as the Petco Pay Credit Card will, but it can be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. This allows the account holder to earn rewards much easier and on a wider variety of purchases than only on pet-related purchases, like the closed-loop version of the card.
The open-loop Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card will also give the user the option to defer the interest on large purchases in place of earning rewards. This can allow pet-lovers who need to make large purchases to do so while keeping benefitting from a same-as-cash financing option that can be in place for up to 12 months, depending on the purchase amount.
While the Petco Pay Credit Card is better for consistent shoppers at Petco that spend substantial amounts in short periods, the Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card is a better option for most regular pet-lovers. If you find yourself getting pet food and the occasional toy at Petco but would prefer to earn those rewards on purchases you make daily, the Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card is the more flexible card, by far.
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Petco Credit Card Rewards Program
The main draw to using one of the Petco Credit Cards is that the account holder and all authorized users will be able to earn rewards on qualifying purchases with the card. The problem is that the rewards earning is complicated and confusing, not straightforward like many other rewards programs.
Either version of the Petco Credit Card earns 8% back on purchases at Petco stores, and you must be a Petco Pals member to apply, so as a Pal, you're automatically earning 5% back. That Percentage, however, isn't directly commensurate with what you earn. That percentage represents an estimate of the cash value of the rewards you generate with purchases. If it sounds confusing, you're right.
When you make a Petco purchase, you earn 1.6 points for each $1 you spend on either version of the Petco Credit Card. However, with the Petco Pay Mastercard Credit Card, you will also earn 0.4 points per $1 at grocery stores and 0.2 points per $1 on all other purchases. All of those tiny fractions of points add up to increments of 100 points being valid for a $5 Petco rewards redemption.
Point Redemption & Expiration
Not only do the points come relatively slowly, but when you have enough you need to manually activate them in your Pals account. Every time you earn points, those points are given an expiration date of one year later, so if you don't use them, you will forfeit them after a year.
When you have enough to redeem, simply log onto the online account management for the Petco Credit Card account, and load 100 points onto the account to redeem the value. If you can't do the process online, you can also call their customer relations line and have them load the points for you.
As a heavy Petco user, you need to be careful not to spend your points before you fully earn them. Points can be adjusted based on merchandise return or exchange processes, so you may see enough points deducted from your account to send it into the red if you return something. Be aware of your excess points balance when loading rewards points onto your card so that if you need to return something, you won't "overdraft" your rewards account points balance.
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Choose Rewards Or Financing For Larger Purchases
Cardholders who need to make larger purchases will have an option to either earn rewards on the purchase or to use free financing to pay the purchase off over time. Free financing is an interest deferral that allows you to buy something and pay it off within a specified time frame without paying interest.
Financing options include:
- 6-month financing on purchases that are at least $299
- 9-month financing on purchases that are at least $399
- 12-month financing on purchases that are at least $499
While this financing option can make larger purchases seem much easier to handle, users should remember that the program is only an interest deferral. This means that if the purchase isn't fully paid off inside the financing window, the interest is charged in full and retroactively according to the terms of the card. This can mean hundreds in interest and fees for those that miss a payment or otherwise fail to complete the payment agreement in full.
However, deferred interest is only used in some locations since some states have regulations banning it. Cardholders will receive a full waiver of interest for the financing period in those states. With waived interest, the interest won't start to accrue until after the default of the financing period, so it won't be as big of a concern as in states that allow deferred interest.
Applying For The Petco Credit Card
You will need to be a Petco Pals member to apply for either version of the Petco Credit Card, so if you are interested, applying is the first step. The Pals loyalty program is free and begins earning you rewards even without the credit cards.
Sign in to your online management for the Petco Pals account, and you will be able to apply for the Petco Credit Card directly from the web portal. You can apply for one or the other, or both, and you can do it with just a few clicks. Just check the boxes for the cards that you'd like to apply for, and your information will be submitted accordingly.
While it may seem like the Petco Credit Cards have solid rewards, actually earning them and redeeming them can be complicated and somewhat of a hassle. However, if you are a constant shopper at Petco and would be able to use the rewards as you earn them, then applying for one of the Petco Credit Cards might be perfect for you.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.