You probably know American Eagle Outfitters best for the ubiquity of its clothes in high schools and on college campuses. The American Eagle brand can be seen in stylish logo hoodies, ripped baggy jeans, trendy crop tops, and everything else the kids are wearing these days—and it’s basically been popular since its creation.
But how has AEO, founded in 1977, beat the odds and stayed on top of the game through the decades? The company has managed to not only stay relevant but even grow by implementing innovative marketing campaigns that appeal to a wide range of young consumers and by introducing its now highly successful lingerie and intimate clothing line, Aerie.
Plain and simple, American Eagle sells higher-quality clothes than their competition and celebrates diversity with inclusive ads and product lines. They give the people what they want, and the people want AEO to stick around. With over 1,047 stores globally, the company isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Maybe you’re a regular American Eagle patron and you’re wondering whether signing up for one of their store cards would be a good idea. Keep reading for an in-depth review of AEO credit cards and all the information you’ll need to make a decision.
An Overview of AEO’s Two Store Credit Cards
American Eagle offers not one but two credit card options to its customers, so you’ll have to know the difference between them in order to decide which is best for you. The AEO Connected® credit card is the standard option and the AEO Connected® Visa® offers more bells and whistles, plus a surprising perk.
Both American Eagle credit cards are issued by Synchrony Bank, an institution that has firmly established its presence in the retail credit card sector with over 100 store-branded cards, the likes of which include juggernauts Amazon, Lowe’s, Gap, and Marshall’s. Here’s everything you should know about the AEO Connected® card.
The AEO Connected® Credit Card
First up, AEO Connected. The “basic” AEO Connected® credit card option is only slightly more basic than its VISA counterpart and itself has a long list of perks and rewards. The benefits of this card include:
|🛍️||20% off your first card purchase|
|🛍️||An extra 10% off every other purchase|
|📦||Free shipping to the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada|
|💵||15 points earned on the dollar|
|💵||$10 off reward for every 2,500 points|
|👖||Buy 5 get 1 free on jeans and bras|
|🦹🏻♂️||$0 fraud liability|
|📱||Mobile and online account management|
The Connected card also offers coupons and events to cardholders, like:
|🎁 – 15-20% off birthday coupon.||Valid for 15% off any single total purchase for Full Access members and 20% for Extra Access and cardholding members.|
|🛒 – Personal shopping day coupon.||A coupon for between 10 and 20% off a single total purchase, depending on what promotion is being run at the time of signup.|
|🎟️ – 6 cardholder events each year.||Including savings events, opportunities to earn extra points, and more.|
The AEO Connected® VISA® Credit Card
So how does adding that “VISA” to the AEO Connected card make a difference? Well, the AEO Connected® VISA® credit card offers all of the perks of the Connected credit card, plus:
- You can use it anywhere VISA cards are accepted.
- Earn 5 points for every $1 spent outside of AEO.
Yes, anywhere. You don’t have to be shopping at an American Eagle store to be earning American Eagle points, and that goes for online purchases too.
AEO Connected’s Extra Access Program
All cardholders are considered to have “Full Access” to Connected rewards from the time they sign up for an AEO credit card, but they are upgraded to “Extra Access” status when they spend $350 or more on net qualifying purchases with their AEO credit cards in a calendar year.
Extra Access members enjoy a birthday coupon for 20% instead of only 15% and a $15 credit reward on 2,500 points instead of $10. To maintain Extra Access status, members must continue to spend $350 annually. Otherwise, they return to Full Access status and lose any additional rewards they may have earned under the higher-tier membership level.
An In-Depth Overview of AEO Connected’s Rewards Program
The fine print on the AEO card rewards program is extensive, so here’s a breakdown on how to earn, manage, and spend points and rewards for the two cards.
An Important Note About AEO Connected
Before diving into nitty-gritty credit card reward details, it’s important to note that AEO credit cards are entirely separate from the AEO Connected rewards program. This just means that you’ll have to be both a cardholder and enrolled in AEO Connected in order to earn the benefits outlined above for each card (and some of these benefits are actually just Connected benefits).
Not all AEO Connected members are credit card holders, but all AEO credit cardholders are Connected members because they are automatically enrolled in the rewards program upon signup as long as they provide a valid email.
For the purposes of this article, AEO credit card rewards and AEO Connected rewards will be considered together as all cardholders enjoy at least Full Access Connected perks.
How to Earn Points/Rewards
Upon signup for an AEO credit card, customers are instantly awarded 500 points. From there, all purchases made online, in-store, and over the phone earn points.
The amount of a qualifying purchase that earns points is equal to the transaction total after rewards and discounts have been applied and before tax is added. For example, a $50 purchase (before tax) for which a $10 coupon is used only earns points on $40 of the total.
Individual stores may run promotions in which cardmembers receive additional points and/or discounts for certain purchases over a limited period of time, but these are up to the discretion of store administrators and vary by location. In addition, administrators may at any time terminate, expand, limit, or otherwise modify the Rewards program for their store with no warning.
Be sure to stay updated on the deals and terms of your local AE stores if you want to get the most out of your membership.
How Points and Rewards Are Issued
Points earned are automatically applied to a customer’s loyalty account via email, text, and/or the AEO mobile app (remember: a valid email address is required for enrollment with AEO Connected, as no paper statements or rewards are issued).
There is a 14-day waiting period to receive points and credits between the time of purchase for which rewards were earned and the time these rewards can be redeemed. American Eagle tells its members that they can expect to wait between 15 and 21 days to receive a reward after reaching that reward’s point
threshold. After this time period, updates to a customer’s account balance should be reflected in their Connected account at ae.com and on the app.
When a cardmember makes a return, any rewards earned on that purchase are removed from their account.
How to Manage Points and Rewards
Cardmembers can view their reward balances as well as access credits and coupons through their Connected account either online or through the American Eagle/Aerie mobile app. From there, customers can also see reward activity and keep up with current Connected offers.
How to Use Points and Rewards
Points will never expire as long as members make at least 1 purchase a year, or in a 375 rolling period from the date of signup. This keeps a Connected account active. However, rewards do expire, and after only 45 days from the date of issue. For example, if you received a $10 off coupon for reaching 2,500 points, you have only 45 days to use it before it is nullified.
Rewards can be accessed and redeemed through a member’s Connected account at https://www.ae.com/ca/en/myaccount/aeoconnected. Customers must present email or text rewards and credits at the time of purchase, whether online or in-store, in order to redeem.
Credits and coupons contain codes that can be easily used to make online or over-the-phone purchases. Identification and/or proof of Connected membership may be required to use rewards at retail locations.
How Much Are Points and Rewards Worth?
Plain and simple, Connected rewards aren’t worth “real” money. Rewards, points, and credits earned have no monetary value and cannot be exchanged for cash. Rewards and points cannot be traded or sold and a customer cannot request to exchange store credit for money.
How to Apply for AEO Cards
The application process for an American Eagle credit card is no different than any other card application process. Interested customers can either apply in-stores or online through Synchrony’s application and must provide the following information:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Last Four digits of your social security
- Annual net income
This information is enough for Synchrony to determine whether an applicant should be approved or denied credit. Upon credit approval, customers are then enrolled automatically in the AEO Connect program and awarded their signup points.
Core Demographic of AEO Cards
Because the people that score the most with an AEO credit card are people that frequent the establishment, it makes sense that the AEO credit card core demographic is comprised of its most loyal customers.
American Eagle Outfitters’ core demographic is comprised of middle- to upper-class, primarily caucasian, 15- to 25-year-old male and female patrons. Because one must be at least 18 years old to be approved for any credit card, AEO’s core card demographic is the 18- to 25-year-old range. Aerie, American Eagle’s women’s lifestyle brand and one of its greatest sources of revenue in 2020, caters specifically to women.
Prices at this behemoth retail store are reasonable enough to be affordable to the average middle-class citizen and products feel high-end enough to appeal to the upper-class. However, this doesn’t mean that just anyone that shops at American Eagle can get one of their credit cards—credit approval is still a factor.
Credit Score Minimum
AEO Connected® credit cards aren’t altogether difficult to get approved for, even for those with credit scores in the fair range. Applicants with low-600s credit scores can expect to be approved for an AEO Connected® credit card as long as they don’t have any major blemishes on their record, but they’ll probably be stuck with a meager $150 credit limit.
As for AEO Connected® VISA® credit cards, scores in the upper-600s to low-700s are more typical. Because these are VISA cards and can be used everywhere that VISA is accepted—which is most anywhere—these are much more difficult to obtain than the exclusively store-branded credit card.
In short, low-average to average credit scores are generally approved for AEO Connected cards and 620 is the absolute minimum.
Pros and Cons of American Eagle Credit Cards
So these credit cards have a handful of appealing rewards and are easy enough to get, but does that make them worth getting? As with any credit card, there are advantages and disadvantages to AEO Connected cards.
Perks of the Connected Cards
Outside of the credits and rewards that AEO cardmembers can automatically count on, there are a couple of notable benefits to having a Connected credit card or Connected VISA.
Extra Access status.
Members that are upgraded to Extra Access status are rewarded just a little extra for their loyalty. Though not much, an additional $5 here and there would add up for frequent shoppers.
Use of cards outside of AEO.
Obviously, this only applies to the Connected VISA, but the convenience of being able to shop with your AEO card outside of AEO is a definite perk. For responsible buyers looking to build their credit and able to stay on top of payments, an AEO VISA is a decent option.
Connected Card Cons
Connected cards have their fair share of disadvantages. Some of the rewards offered to Full and Extra Access customers are decidedly stingy, the cards have high APRs, and the Connected program does not guarantee rewards long-term. These are just a few of the cards’ obvious drawbacks.
1. Discounts can’t be combined. The extra 10% or 15% off that members earn on AEO purchases cannot be combined with other discounts, which would be a huge bummer for some of the thriftier shoppers out there. In addition, there are many stipulations on the “earn free jeans and bras” bonus, like the fact that clearance jeans and bras —discounted at 49% or more off the original price—are excluded from the buy 5 get 1 free deal. Any AEO fan could tell you that jeans and bras are often clearanced, and that this “deal” would soon feel disappointing.
2. Late payments and APR. There are no annual fees for either AEO Connected credit card, but there is a late payment fee of up to $38 and 28.24% APR for either card.
3. Rewards must be used quickly and can’t be replaced. The Connected rewards program is quite restrictive. With a pretty small window for using rewards and a no-replacements policy, many credits and coupons could go unused. If you don’t find yourself shopping at American Eagle or Aerie every 45 days, you stand to lose any rewards you’ve earned.
4. Points don’t rollover. Points earned will not be carried over in the event that American Eagled ends their Connected rewards program and members will not be compensated for leftover rewards, so any point hoarders could suffer significant losses unexpectedly.
Why mention this?
Because ending a rewards program to start another has happened before at American Eagle Outfitters.
The AERewards program, predecessor to the AEO Connected program, was fully replaced in September of 2017. Members were automatically enrolled in AEO Connected and issued final credits, but there is no guarantee that Connected members would be similarly compensated in the event of program termination.
Of course, the Connected program isn’t set to end at this time, so this is only a small possible risk.
How Do AEO Cards Compare?
American Eagle might be able to compete using clever advertising and a solid collection of products, but how do their credit cards compare with other department store credit cards?
Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, and Gap are just a few of American Eagle’s fiercest competitors. See the table below for an analysis of the competition.
|Card||APR %||Rewards Expiration period||Points Per Dollar||Where to Use||CreditKarma User Rating|
|AEO Connected||28.24||45 days||15||AEO and Aeire||1/5|
|AEO Connected VISA||28.24||45 days||15||Anywhere VISA is accepted||1/5|
|Abercrombie & Fitch||26.74||1 year||15||In-store only at Abercrombie & Fitch||3/5|
|Victoria’s Secret Angel||27.24||90 days||5+||Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath and Body Works (in-store)||3.5/5|
|Gap VISA||27.49||2 years||5||Any GAP brand store (Banana Republic, Old Navy, etc.)||5|
Final Verdict: Should You Sign Up?
Is AEO Connected the paperless credit card program you didn’t know you needed? That depends on how often you’re purchasing American Eagle apparel.
For the average consumer, AEO Connected credit cards aren’t the best credit cards out there, but they’re also not the worst. They have higher APRs than their store-brand card competitors and shorter rewards lifespans, but they also make it easy to rack up points. For shoppers with low credit scores that spend a reasonable portion of their money on American Eagle products, these cards are within reach and cost nothing annually, making them a fine option.
That said, you won’t be able to earn cash back or use these cards anywhere you please (unless you get the VISA version). Experienced credit card users that plan to stay on top of their balances will, at the very least, earn a few bucks here and there. Newbies, however, could fall victim to exorbitant interest fees and lose much more than they could gain.
If you do choose to apply for a Connected card, watch out for late fees, foreign transaction fees, and reward expiration dates to make the most of your card.
AmAll in all, most people should look elsewhere for a good credit card. Only those whose closets are filled floor to ceiling with American Eagle-branded merchandise—and who absolutely pay their card balances in full each period—would truly benefit from AEO Connected cards; high APRs and rewards with short shelf-lives should be red flags to anyone that doesn’t fall into that category.