Shoppers at Academy Sports + Outdoors can score a discount on everyday purchases with the Academy credit card. From fitness equipment to outdoor gear and apparel, cardholders will receive a straightforward 5% discount at checkout for purchases made in store and online. They’ll also get free shipping for online purchases totaling $15 or more (not including tax).
But the Academy card, issued by Comenity Bank, comes with the same pitfalls as most big cards, including a lack of flexibility and a sky-high annual percentage rate, or APR. For these reasons, most people will do better with a general cash-back credit card that offers rewards and incentives no matter where they shop.
Here are five things to know about the Academy credit card.
1. You’ll earn a simple 5% discount on Academy purchases…
Simplicity matters. While many store cards offer a complicated rewards program with expiration dates, the Academy card offers a no-hassle 5% discount at checkout for purchases made in store and online. That’s remarkably uncomplicated for a large card.
Gift cards, hunting and fishing licenses and in-store services are excluded from the 5% discount. Additionally, if you use more than one form of payment for an online purchase, you will not receive 5% off.
2. … But that’s the only place you can use the card
Like many large credit cards, the Academy card is “closed-loop.” That means it can be used for purchases only at Academy, so you’ll have no ability to shop for deals at other retailers.
Although a straightforward 5% discount on all Academy purchases is great, most people will probably do better with the freedom to shop wherever they want with a general cash-back credit card.
For example, the US Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card offers (among other things) 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter in two categories you choose, including sporting goods stores. While this card requires active management and selection of your bonus categories each quarter, it will provide significantly more flexibility than the Academy store card.
3. The sign-up offer is lackluster
New cardholders will receive a one-time $15 discount off their first purchase at Academy, but that discount cannot be combined with the everyday 5% discount. If you apply online, your first purchase must be made in the same shopping session as your card approval to receive the $15 discount.
This welcome offer is significantly poorer than offers available from other credit cards with no annual fee. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers new cardholders the following sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. It would take $4,000 in spending on the Academy card to snag a discount equal to this sign-up bonus.
4. The APR for purchases is sky-high
If you’re looking to finance your purchase at Academy, you’ll want to look elsewhere. As of this writing, the APR on purchases for the Academy sports card is a whopping 29.99%. If you know you’ll be carrying a balance, you’d be better served with a card that offers an introductory 0% APR offer.
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card was NerdWallet’s pick for Best 0% APR Credit Card for Purchases in 2023. It offers a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR. Additionally, cardholders will be eligible for the following sign-up offer: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
5. You get free shipping on Academy.com
Academy is one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the world. Whether they’re ordering new fishing gear or hiking boots, cardholders will receive free shipping on all online purchases of $15 or more.
Academy also offers free returns for online purchases. Just initiate the return through the Academy website and the company will issue a prepaid FedEx shipping label. Or you can make your return to a retail store if one is nearby.