Store Credit Cards
Store cards are essentially credit cards designed for use at a particular chain of retailers. They will offer you various discounts and other perks when you do spend money at the stores in question.
Store cards are generally designed to ultimately benefit the store rather than the customer by attempting to guarantee long term loyalty. If used correctly they can offer a wealth of advantages but it is important to go over the details of each card and what benefits it comes with before you settle.
Discounts and Offers
Store credit cards will offer you discounts on purchases made at the store or stores in question.
Often, you’ll get something like a 20% discount on your first purchase using the card, and then a smaller discount on any purchases after that for a few months.
If this is the case, you should use your initial large discount wisely by using it to get money off a relatively expensive purchase.
Smart use of the card can allow you to benefit as much as possible from these discounts, but you should be careful not to get sucked into committing to a card that does not actually help you in the long run.
If you plan to take full advantage of a store credit card, then you should make sure that you can clear your balance to stop the interest accruing and cancelling out any discounts you enjoyed to begin with.
It is important that you balance the discounts you get off your purchases with the interest that you’ll have to pay if you don’t pay your balance off in time.
As well as money off purchases, store cards tend to offer the holders a range of other perks and benefits designed to attract customers.
The kind of benefits you’ll receive will depend on the nature of the store in question but typical perks include:
- Invitations to exclusive shopping events involving further discounts
- Free and simple item returns
- Free delivery from the store’s online outlets
- Money off in any restaurants or cafés associated with the store
If you think that you’d take full advantage of the associated perks on top of the in store discounts offered, then taking out a store credit card could be a good idea.
But you should be careful as for the most part, the various perks you get from these cards are designed more to ensure your loyalty custom than to actually benefit you as a customer.
Credit Limits and Interest Rates
Store cards are often pretty expensive when it comes to APR, with some going as high as 30%. As such it’s important, if you really want to benefit from using one, that you clear as much of your balance as possible each month.
If you’re not confident in your ability to pay off most or all of what you owe each month then the likelihood is that the discounts you receive are cancelled out by the added costs you end up paying.
Store credit cards also tend to come with pretty low credit limits which can actually be something of a blessing in disguise. A low credit limit means that you can’t spend at much each month and therefore that you won’t have too much to pay off when your statement comes through.
Arguably the biggest issue with store credit cards is that they are limited to use in one store, or one chain of stores. This is not necessarily an issue as you can always use any other cards you have for other purchases.
It is only an issue if you would not often visit the shop in question if you didn’t have the store card. Often, sales assistants will push credit cardsstore onto as many customers as they can but you should only take one out if it’s a shop that you think you’d visit regularly anyway.