Is it worth having store cards?
Read this article and find out if it's worth having store cards, it's benefits and disadvantages, and much more.
Learn more about store cards and see if you should get one to enjoy its benefits
We have all faced that situation that makes us wonder whether or not having a store card is worth it.
Have you ever been shopping and heard the enticing offer of saving 15 percent off your purchase? The requirement? Just by opening a store credit card.
It’s a common pitch we’ve all heard at the checkout counter. In fact, over 62 percent of adults in the U.S. have applied for a retail credit card.
It’s not surprising to learn that two-thirds of those individuals have made impulsive decisions to do so.
What is a Store Card?
There are two distinct types of credit cards that retailers provide: store credit cards and co-branded credit cards.
You can only use store credit cards at a specific store or chain of stores. That’s why we call them closed-loop cards.
On the other hand, we can use co-branded cards (or open-loop cards) wherever the card network, such as Mastercard or Visa, is accepted.
Although it features a retailer’s emblem, you can use it in a variety of settings.
It’s possible that some retailers offer both store credit cards and co-branded credit cards.
Take Amazon.com, for instance, which provides both the Amazon store card and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
You can only use the former at Amazon.com, while the latter can be used at any location that accepts Visa.
It’s important to keep in mind that while saving money is always a great thing, opening a store credit card can have consequences.
It’s not always the best option when it comes to credit cards. So, when does it make sense to open a store credit card, and when should you steer clear?
Let’s explore the pros and cons together.
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Exploring the reasons why it may or may not be worth having store cards
We have prepared a list of pros and cons to help you decide whether store cards are worth having or not.
- Exclusive rewards: If you frequently shop at a specific retailer and love their products, using their store card could provide better rewards than a general rewards credit card.
- Bonus perks: Some store cards offer additional bonuses, such as special coupons, free alterations, or invitation-only events, which can add value to your shopping experience.
- Easier approval: Store cards can be a great starting point if you’re looking to establish a credit history or rebuild your credit score.
- High APR: According to a 2021 poll by CreditCards.com, store cards typically charge an average APR of 25.77 percent, making carrying a balance an expensive proposition that may outweigh the benefits of the rewards program.
- Misleading terms: Many store cards offer “0 interest” promotions that are actually deferred interest promotions. This means that if you don’t pay off the balance by the end of the promotional period, you’ll be charged retroactive interest on the average daily balance from the beginning of the promotion, which can be financially damaging.
- Low credit limits: Store cards often come with low credit limits, which can lead to a high credit utilization ratio and negatively impact your credit score.
- Limited use: Store cards are limiting because they can only be used at a specific store or chain of stores, which restricts your purchasing options.
It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to apply for a store credit card.
While the rewards can be appealing, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks, such as high APRs and limited usage.
The difference between store cards and general-purpose cards
Cards that we consider general-purpose typically offer a broad range of rewards programs to their users.
Also, depending on the specific card, you may be able to redeem your rewards in different ways. For example cash back, travel, gift cards, merchandise, or other types of incentives.
In contrast, if you possess a store card or a co-branded card, you’re much more limited. The rewards program may only be valid for a particular retailer’s offerings.
Further, there is usually a lot of emphasis on cashback. This can be in the form of statement credits or funds that you can apply to future purchases.
Also, Did you know that some general-purpose cards offer premium rewards programs to their members?
These programs often include access to exclusive airport lounges, travel concierge services, and complimentary travel insurance.
Additionally, certain cards offer significant sign-up bonuses or higher rates of cashback for certain categories. A few examples are dining or groceries.
So it’s important to evaluate your spending habits and priorities to determine which type of card is right for you.
A general-purpose card may be a great fit if you value flexibility and enjoy earning rewards across various categories.
A store card, on the other hand, could be an excellent choice if you frequently shop at a particular retailer and appreciate cashback rewards.
Bottom line: are store cards worth it or not?
The topic of whether or not it is worth having store cards is an old debate, but the answer to the question depends on various factors.
It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to apply for a store credit card.
Store credit cards can be advantageous if you frequently shop at a specific retailer and are willing to pay your bill in full each month.
They often come with enticing rewards and bonuses, making them appealing for loyal customers.
However, store credit cards typically have high-interest rates, which can be detrimental if you carry a balance.
It’s also important to keep in mind that store cards limit your options to a particular store or chain, making them less useful for everyday expenses.
Having a general-purpose or co-branded card can help you cover other expenses and benefit from credit card perks.
In addition to considering the pros and cons of store credit cards, it’s important to evaluate your personal financial situation and goals.
For example, if you are trying to build your credit score, a store credit card may be an excellent starting point since they are often easier to qualify for.
However, if you think about earning rewards across various categories and having more flexibility in where you shop, a general-purpose card may suit you better.
Ultimately, whether a store credit card is worth it depends on your individual needs and preferences.
As with any financial decision, it’s crucial to do your research and make an informed decision.
Life-savings tips to improve your credit score
If you’re looking for rewards, discounts, cash back and other types of benefits you can apply for a new rewards credit card instead of a store card.
But these credit cards usually require a better credit score. So, if you need to improve your score, see the next post we’ve prepared for you with excellent tips to build credit.
About the author / Danilo Pereira
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