With the holiday season in full swing, you will be shopping in department stores a bit more than usual. You’ll also hear this question a lot: “Would you like to sign up for a store credit card?” The first time you hear this question, you should decline the offer. When you get home, you should go to the store’s website and check out information about their store credit card. As with any other credit card, there may be benefits, but there may also be drawbacks, so do the research before getting one.
The simple fact is you don’t really need a store credit card. Opening a new line of credit shouldn’t be a decision made on a whim because it could have serious implications. If you’re new to the credit world, a store credit card may be a good introduction. However, if you already have umpteen lines of credit, a new account may lower your credit score, especially if you ever incur penalties.
In a capitalist society, you need to be aware of comparisons. You may regret getting a store credit card if you find a different store with better deals. Stores offer credit cards because they want you to come back, not necessarily because they offer the best deals. Some stores offer a discount on your first purchase made with the card. Some offer discounts on all purchases above a certain dollar amount, while others offer a percentage of cash back with each purchase. A discount on a first purchase is a one-time thing—clearly not the best deal— so you should consider the latter two options if you wish to purchase a store credit card.
I found a couple of websites that explain different stores and their credit cards. At selectcreditcard.com, I found a list of stores that offer cards, from Abercrombie to Zales. It has links to stores’ websites, but it doesn’t offer a lot of information about their cards. For example, under JC Penney, it just says you get a 10 percent discount off your first purchase with the credit card. Under Old Navy, it offers a bit more information. You can get 15 percent off your first purchase in store or online, and you get free shipping for any online purchase above $50. This website is more about supplying links to store websites, where you can find information and compare deals.
The other website I found is AskMrCreditCard.com, and it offers a bit more information about specific store cards. For example, with an Ace Rewards Visa, you can earn 5 percent rewards for every dollar spent at Ace Hardware, and you can also get 2 percent rewards at gas stations and grocery stores. A peer comparison of this card explains that there is also a “points earning” system, much like other department stores. While the rewards program is better than competitor Home Depot (5% to 3%), the points system isn’t as good as other stores who use this system. With a Barnes & Noble card, you can get a 5 percent rebate with each purchase, and with every dollar spent on the card, you earn one point. When you reach 2,500 points, you will get a $25 gift card.
When it comes down to it, a store credit card might not offer many rewards. You will continue to be asked about store credit cards when you go shopping in the next few weeks, and you should continue to decline each offer. You should purchase a store credit card only after you have researched store websites, compared offers, and decided that it would be worth it.
He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.
Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.
In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.