Store credit cards offer you rewards for shopping with a particular store or brand, with benefits ranging from points per £1 spent to discounts on your shopping, free shipping and exclusive events.
Use this guide to compare store credit cards and learn more about the different features available. We also go through the key factors to consider so you can decide if this type of card is right for you.
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
0% on balance transfers for 20 months
0% on purchases for 20 months
No annual fee
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
These cards offer benefits when you shop with a particular brand or in a specific type of store. 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.
Essentially, retailers will offer either of the following:
Traditional store cards. These can only be used to make purchases in store and are not on a large card provider network such as Mastercard or Visa. For example, the Karen Millen card can only be used in Karen Millen stores.
Retail rewards credit cards. These cards may be branded with a particular store or store group, but are on a card network such as Mastercard, Visa or American Express, meaning they can be used elsewhere. For example, the Dorothy Perkins Mastercard earns reward points wherever you use it. The points can normally only be redeemed with the brand itself, or in some cases with other brands in the same group.
As well as these options, there are some non-retail credit cards, such as cashback or rewards cards, that offer benefits with particular types of stores and brands. For example, the Santander 123 credit card offers cash back on shopping at major supermarkets and department stores. Similarly, American Express offers a credit card that earns Nectar points.
Reward points. Most store cards in the UK offer points per £1 spent on eligible purchases. Generally, you’ll earn the highest amount of points for spending with the store and a lower amount for spending everywhere else.
VIP offers. Some store cards give you access to exclusive events, offers and sales. The New Look card, for example, offers unique card member treats and promotions.
Shopping discounts. You can often get savings on your shopping with the store or associated brands when you use a store card to pay for purchases. For example, with a Debenhams card you can get 10% off your first shop in-store or online, and a £5 voucher with your first rewards book.
Complimentary delivery. If you shop online, you could enjoy complimentary delivery options with the brand that’s linked to your store card.
Flexible payment plans. Store cards may also offer you different payment options for purchases you make with the linked brand. For example, Karen Millen store cards currently offer 6 months interest-free credit on single transactions of £199 or more.
Other benefits. Depending on the card you choose, you could also enjoy perks such as complimentary travel insurance, purchase insurance and airport lounge access.
High APRs. Store cards typically range from 21.9 to 29.9% APR, which are usually higher than a mainstream credit card.
Lack of clarity. Sales assistants are often not trained adequately to understand how the cards work and are opening cards to fulfil internal targets. They may not give you the full information about the terms and conditions when you sign up to a card so don’t feel pressured into making a quick decision just to take advantage of an opening discount or offer. Ask them what the APR is, if they don’t know that’s not a good sign.
Dormancy fees. A few card providers charge a dormancy fee, a type of penalty charge if the account isn’t used for a certain space of time, often around 12 months. Check your summary box to see if your provider charges this.
Comparison of store and rewards cards
Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
As well as comparing the benefits of a store card, make sure you consider the following features so you can find one that suits your needs:
Acceptance. Make sure the card is an American Express, Mastercard or Visa if you want to be able to use it outside the associated store.
Annual fee. Some store credit cards in the UK have an annual fee. Make sure the amount you stand to save outweighs the fee before you apply for the card.
Interest rates. Store credit card interest rates typically range from 18% to 30% APR.
Interest-free days. Provided you clear your balance in full each month, you’ll be able to take advantage of interest-free days each billing period.
Balance transfer. If you have existing card debt you’d like to transfer to a new store credit card, you may be able to get a promotional 0% interest rate if you request the transfer at the time of your application. Just remember to check the standard rate that will apply to the debt if you don’t pay it off during the introductory period.
Store credit cards can help you get more benefits when you regularly shop with a particular brand or store. Just remember to look at all the features and fees of the card, then compare a range of options so that you can find one that suits your needs. Crucially, you should compare what you stand to gain (ie the value of the benefits you’re likely to enjoy), against what you stand to lose (ie the costs involved).
If you want to know more about store cards, here you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about them. If you have another question, you can also get in touch with us using the comment box below.
Most store cards in the UK are credit cards with American Express, Mastercard or Visa functionality. This means you can use them anywhere regular credit cards are accepted. It also means that details of the store card will be added to your credit history.
Others can only be used with a specific brand or store, although these still count as a credit product.
Yes, as long as the card has a Visa, Mastercard or American Express logo, you can use it anywhere these cards are accepted. Note that you may earn reward points at a different rate when you make a purchase at a retailer that has no affiliation with the retail brand. Check the terms and conditions for specific information about transactions that are eligible and ineligible to earn points.
Some store credit cards have an extended interest-free promotion on purchases. Usually, you’ll need to present your store card and/or spend a specific amount on eligible purchases to use one of these 0% interest offers.
Most store cards also offer up to a certain number of interest-free days on purchases for each statement period. Just be sure to pay your account in full each month and you won’t get charged any interest on the purchases you make during the next statement period.
If the product has an active balance transfer promotion, you can transfer your credit card debt to a store credit card. Generally, you elect to transfer a balance from another credit card at the point of application for the new product.
However, you won’t be able to transfer your credit card balance to a store card that is designed only for spending at a particular store.
Yes, most balance transfer credit cards will accept debts from store cards, as well as other credit cards that are not issued by the same financial institution. You’ll just need to include details of your store card account and debt when you apply for the balance transfer.
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