Compare store credit cards: 2021 guide | finder.com

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Compare store credit cards

You'll find stellar rewards at select stores, plus benefits not offered by general cards.

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Our pick for a store card: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi logo

Up to 4%

Cash back

  • One of the most well-rounded cashback cards
  • 4% on gas on up to $7,000, then 1%
  • 3% on restaurants and travel
  • 2% at Costco
Apply now

Compare store credit cards

If you want more options for store credit cards, consider the products below. Some of the cards may be good choices if you’re rebuilding credit, such as the Fingerhut FreshStart® Credit Account.

Name Product Filter values Annual fee Purchase APR Recommended minimum credit score
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
$0
15.24% variable
740
An impressive cashback card that offers up to 4% back on everyday purchases like gas, travel and dining all for the cost of a Costco membership.
Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
$0
14.9% to 22.9% variable
670
Earn up to 5% at Sam's Club with Plus membership, 5% cash back on gas (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), 3% on dining and 1% on all other purchases.
Seventh Avenue Credit
$0
5.75% to 25.99% fixed
300
Buy now, pay later with payments as low as $20 a month.
Net First Platinum
Up to $299.40
N/A
300
Build your credit history with an unsecured line of credit.
Montgomery Ward Credit
$0
5.75% to 25.99% fixed
300
This no-annual-fee store card offers a potentially low APR and low minimum payments for purchases made at the Montgomery Ward online store.
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Compare up to 4 providers

There are hundreds of store credit cards available, though they greatly range in quality. Compare your options before applying to find a card that’s the right fit for your shopping habits and finances.


Our picks for the best store cards

What are store credit cards?

These are credit cards issued by retailers, typically valid only in their respective department store networks, much like in-store financing. They may offer benefits such as store-exclusive rewards and discounts.

Department store credit cards are valid outside of their issuing retailers if they’re affiliated with major card networks, such as Visa or Mastercard.

Here’s an example of a store credit card

The Hot Topic Guest List Credit Card is one example. You can use it only for purchases at Hot Topic, and you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend there. Each time you earn 100 points, you’ll earn a $5 credit you can apply toward Hot Topic purchases.

You’ll also receive store-specific perks such as shipping discounts, birthday offers and early access to sales.

Why get a department store credit card?

  • You’re a loyal shopper at a certain retailer. If you can’t wait to spend money with your favorite retailer, a store credit card can reward you handsomely for your loyalty. Typically, you’ll earn stronger points or cash back than you would with other cards.For non-diehards, it might be better worth their time to shop with a general rewards card.
  • You want store-specific perks you won’t find with general credit cards. Store credit cards can offer powerful, unique perks you won’t find with a general card. These might include store discounts, special financing and exclusive access to events.
  • You want a credit card, but your credit score isn’t great. Store-card providers are often more willing to approve consumers with fair credit. This could be a viable way to get a card and start building credit.

Pros and cons of using store credit cards

Like any other product, there are advantages and disadvantages of store credit cards.

Pros

  • Rewards. Store credit cards reward you with points you can use to shave a few dollars off your next purchase.
  • Bonuses. Some store credit cards have sweeteners like gift certificates or bonus points on signup.
  • Shopping benefits. You may be eligible for exclusive extras such as special financing or free shipping.

Cons

  • Worse terms. Store credit card debts generally accrue interest at a higher rate than other credit cards. They may also come with higher fees than you’d find on a non-store card.
  • Limitations. You may earn fewer points per dollar spent when you shop at a retailer not affiliated with the store card provider, or may be restricted in where you can redeem your rewards.
  • Many are closed loop. Many store cards are closed loop, meaning you can only use them for purchases within the affiliated store. This drastically cuts down on the overall utility of the card.
  • Lower credit limits on average. Since store cards tend to have more forgiving credit requirements than other kinds of cards, they tend to offer smaller maximum credit limits compared to a standard rewards card.

What to watch out for when considering store cards

The rates, fees and rewards you receive on many store cards are more limiting and punishing than you’d find on a standard rewards card. That’s because store cards are targeted at a wider consumer base than standard credit cards. To make a store card more accessible to store shoppers, providers lower the required credit score to qualify for them. This directly affects the card’s terms, resulting in a higher APR and fees to make up for the higher likelihood of account delinquency.

If you’re thinking of picking up a store card, don’t apply at the checkout counter. Instead, do your research online or ask for a pamphlet so you can review the card’s terms and reward structure to make sure the card is a good fit.

Alternatives to store credit cards

Store credit cards can be lucrative, but they may not always be the best choice. Sometimes, a general rewards credit card can be superior if it offers great rewards while giving you the flexibility to spend elsewhere.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll get enough value from a store credit card, consider a card that offers flat-rate rewards — that is, the same rewards rate on every purchase.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Citi® Double Cash Card.
    You’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and another 1% as you pay them off. Not only is this card a great choice for store purchases, but it’s also excellent for other types of spending. Plus, you’ll pay no annual fee.
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
    If you prefer travel miles, try this card. While you’ll pay a $95 annual fee starting the second year, you’ll earn 2x miles on every purchase. You can redeem these miles for travel purchases, or transfer them to Capital One’s 15 travel partners for even more redemption flexibility.
  • Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card.
    This card has a $99 annual fee starting the second year, so it’s best for those who spend enough to earn significant rewards. If that’s you, you’ll enjoy earning 2.5% cash back on all purchases.

What features will I find in department store credit cards?

Benefits will vary by the store credit card, of which there are many. Here are a few features you may find:

  • Rewards. You may receive points for spending on your card. When evaluating a card, look at its rewards terms to check how many points you’ll earn for different spending. Depending on whether your card is closed-loop or open-loop, you could earn rewards only at a certain retailer or on all spending.When you accumulate enough points, you can redeem them for items such as rewards certificates.

You may need to dig deeper to find a store card’s reward structure

If you landed on the Forever 21 Credit Card‘s application page and wanted to know the rewards you’d receive, here’s what you’d do: Click on the link titled Rewards terms & conditions. A sidebar will pop up with this information:

Store credit cards: Forever 21 rewards example

You’ll see the card comes in two versions: the Forever 21 Credit Card and the Forever 21 Visa Card. Check the difference in rewards structures:

  • With both cards, you’ll earn 3x points at Forever 21 stores in the US, excluding US territories.
  • Only the Forever 21 Visa Card also offers 2x points at qualifying restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases.
  • Special financing. You may be able to pay no interest on certain items if you pay them off within a specified period. This is known as deferred interest. It could be a great deal, but be sure to pay off the entire purchase in time or it’ll collect interest for the entire period.Check your card’s terms and conditions to see what the normal APR is. It’ll often be higher than the average credit card APR of around 17%.
  • Shipping benefits. Use your card for online orders and you may receive free shipping and returns.
  • One-time bonus. You may receive some type of bonus for using your card for the first time, such as a discount.
  • Unique offers. Your card provider is likely to send you offers, such as discounts and birthday deals. You may also receive invitations to exclusive events.

Watch your card’s APR

Store credit cards tend to have very high interest rates. That means it can be an especially poor choice to carry a balance on your card month to month.

While it may be tempting to pay off your purchases much later, we recommend clearing your balance in full each billing cycle. This will go a long way toward keeping you out of debt.

Bottom line

Consider whether you spend enough with a retailer to justify picking up a store credit card. If you do, you can find excellent rewards rates. Also, consider store-card benefits, which can offer access to extras you won’t find elsewhere.

If you’re not sure a store credit card is the right choice, there are plenty of general rewards cards to choose from. A cashback card can be an especially good pick.

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