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Store credit cards
Many department and online stores offer loyalty programs and rewards programs tied to a credit card offer.
A number of retailers offer credit cards to patrons to reward customer loyalty. These store credit allow you to pay for purchases and earn rewards points you can use for in-store discounts or travel rewards. However, store credit cards can sometimes come with high-interest rates and have proven to be an expensive way to shop if used improperly. Here we compare some of the store credit cards available to help you pick the one for you.
Compare store credit cards in Canada
How do store credit cards work?
In Canada store credit cards work just like regular credit cards. These cards offer benefits when you shop with a particular brand or retailer. For example, you could earn a higher rate of points per $1 for spending with an associated store, or enjoy complimentary shipping, exclusive sales and long interest-free offers.
Common features among store credit cards include:
- Rewards. You typically get rewarded with points for every dollar you spend at specific retailers. Rewards points can typically be redeemed for discounts on merchandise, experiences or travel rewards.
- Interest-free. Some store credit cards offer interest-free terms when you sign up. These offers allow you to buy now and pay later; however, a high interest rate can be charged when the promotional offer expires. Some store credit cards offer up to 55 days interest-free on purchases if you pay your balance in full each month.
- Interest charges. Interest rates can be much higher than what is offered on other types of credit cards. Be sure to compare all credit card types before you apply so you can find the right card for your needs.
- Annual fee. Depending on the card, you may be charged an annual fee.
- Balance transfers. Although not common, some store credit cards come with promotional balance transfer offers. If you need to consolidate debt, an offer like this could be of interest.
- Rewards. Store credit cards typically reward you with points you can use to receive discounts or free items.
- Freebies. As an incentive to signup for a store credit card, you can often receive free gifts, gift vouchers, bonus points or discounts on merchandise.
- Shopping benefits. You may be eligible for exclusive extras like interest-free financing and free shipping or gift wrapping when you use your store credit card to make a purchase at participating retailers.
- Lenient eligibility criteria. Store credit cards usually have less stringent eligibility criteria when compared to other credit cards and they tend to be a good choice for people who have little to no credit.
- Higher interest rates. Your store credit card may come with much higher interest rates than a regular credit card would. This is often due to the lenient eligibility criteria which makes lending riskier for the provider.
- Less points per dollar. You may earn less points per dollar spent when you shop at a retailer not affiliated with the store card provider.
- Limitations. When it comes to gifts and bonuses, you are limited only to the items that are available in the store. The rewards don’t often extend to other retailers.
Store credit cards for bad credit
If you’re trying to improve your credit, a store credit card may be helpful, since eligibility requirements tend to be less strict for store card. While most store cards require a minimum fair credit score, select providers may accept even lower scores. Open a card only if you can make payments on time. Regularly paying off your credit card balance is one of the best ways to build up your credit score. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your card’s balance every month, or if you miss a payment, your credit score will take some hits.
If your goal for getting a store credit card with bad is to just get access to credit, then you may want to consider some other less risky options instead. That’s because credit cards have higher interest rates than other other types of debt. So if you’re struggling with paying off debt, getting a store credit card for bad credit could get you in more financial trouble then you were before.
- Open a secured credit card with no credit check.
This can be superior to a store card in part because you can use it almost anywhere, instead of only at a specific retailer. On the downside, you must submit an upfront security deposit before you can open an account. Learn more about no-credit check secured cards in our comprehensive guide.
- Take out a credit-builder loan.
When you take out a credit-builder loan, the bank will put the money into an account. To access the money, make regular payments over a few months to a couple of years and eventually pay off the entire loan.
If you want a credit card that is issued by a particular store, you can likely apply at the store directly or apply online. While eligibility requirements vary between different cards, you will usually need to:
- Be at least 18 years of age, or the age of majority in your province or territory.
- Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.
- Meet any minimum income or credit score requirements.
You may also be asked to provide the following information:
- A valid piece of identification (such as a driver’s licence).
- Details of your income, assets, expenses and liabilities.
When to choose a store credit card over a traditional credit card
Store credit cards are a great choice for those who frequently shop at a particular store. Some cards require that you are a store member before you apply, which often comes with an annual membership fee. If you already pay that fee and you believe you can use your card’s benefits, a store card is definitely worth considering.
However, if you’re not sure whether you’ll get enough value from a store credit card, consider a card that offers rewards on spending. For example, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers 2% cash back on up to three categories including drug store, home improvement and furniture purchases. Plus, this card comes with a $0 annual fee.
When you use your credit card, the store is paid a certain amount by the credit card provider – but first, the credit card provider takes a commission before paying the money to the store. Interest charges are also collected by the bank for any unpaid balances, as well as any fines and penalties imposed on the credit card such as late payment fees.
A credit card from your favourite retailer can seem like a good way to cash in on your purchases. However, interest rates can be excruciatingly high and rewards can be minimal. If you don’t shop a lot at the store or any of its partner retailers very often, it may not be worth your while.
Before applying for a store credit card, determine what kind of shopper you are and decide if the rewards program and benefits will be enough incentive for you to join. Compare a variety of different types of credit cards and consider your own spending habits and financial needs before you apply for one.
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