Retail credit cards are store-specific credit cards. These cards can only be used to purchase items at the stores from which they were issued. By contrast, regular credit cards can be used to make purchases anywhere that they are accepted.
People might apply for retail cards when they frequently shop in certain stores. Since these cards may have less stringent credit score requirements, some people also use them to help build their credit histories.
While a retail credit card can provide perks to people who shop in specific stores and can help to build your credit, not every store credit card is the same. There are several features and perks that you should look for to make getting a retail credit card worth it.
Credit Card Essentials
There are some basic features that you should consider when you are thinking about applying for any type of credit card, including a store credit card. You should know that when you apply for a card, your credit score may temporarily decrease. This is why it’s important to make sure that the credit card you are considering has the features that you want before you submit your application.
When you are considering a retail credit card, you should pay attention to the APR, the minimum payment, other charges, and the annual fee. The annual percentage rate or APR is the interest that will be charged if you do not repay your balance in full each month. This is your cost of borrowing with your card.
The minimum payment is the monthly amount that you will be required to pay if you are unable to repay the card balance. Some cards also charge an annual fee.
If your retail credit card charges an annual fee, it will be added to your card balance and will accrue interest until you have repaid it. Finally, you should check the fine print to see any other charges that might be assessed.
For example, you may have to pay extra charges for going over your credit limit, making late payments, or using your card while you are abroad. After you have checked these basics, you will also want to consider the specific perks and benefits that the store credit card offers before deciding if the card is worth it.
Some store cards offer sign-up bonuses to incentivize people to apply for them. These sign-up bonuses might include a percentage discount on the first purchase that you make with the card, double rewards points, or cash-back after you spend a certain amount with your card over the first three months. Often, the discount percentage for the first purchase made with the card will be 10% or more.
Some store cards may offer special financing as a sign-up bonus. With this type of feature, you will not be charged interest during the promotional period as long as you pay off your balance in full before the period ends.
For example, according to this Best Buy credit card review, Best Buy offers special financing. People who purchase items on credit can enjoy a period during which the interest on their purchases is deferred. As long as they repay the purchase price in full during the special financing period, they will not have to pay interest on the purchased item.
Store credit cards often offer rewards, including cash back, rewards points that can be redeemed in-store, or ongoing permanent discounts. For example, this Target Red Card review states that people receive a 5% discount on in-store and online purchases that they make with their cards at Target. However, some types of purchases are exempt from the discount, including optical products, eye exams, certain restaurant equipment brands, and others.
Cards with cashback features allow you to receive money back after you have spent a certain amount within a designated period. You will want to look for a card that offers at least 2% in cashback and that provides flexibility in how you can spend the money.
Many store credit cards offer rewards points that can be redeemed in-store. Rewards points are accumulated as you make purchases and then be applied to future purchases. Best Buy’s rewards program allows you to earn 5% rewards for each dollar spent. This 5% of a dollar is converted into 2.5 reward points. You will have to accumulate a significant amount of points before they are worthwhile.
Many retail credit cards offer several levels of membership. Some cards allow you to pay more to receive additional discounts. Others might provide you with increased rewards as you reach spending milestones.
This can offer you greater rewards and discounts if you spend lots of money at a specific store. You will need to consider your shopping habits at the store to determine whether a higher tier is for you.
Take Advantage of the Best Retail Credit Cards
Retail credit cards can offer you a great way to build your credit and to obtain discounts and rewards when you shop at your favorite stores. You should consider the basic features of a card as well as its perks and benefits before applying.
If you use your retail credit card wisely by repaying your balance in full each month, you can enjoy the benefits while avoiding the potentially high rate of interest that might be charged.