The Truth About Store Credit Cards
Hey you! Yeah, you, with the credit cards. Remember when you were shopping at the mall the other day and the cashier asked you, “Do you have a _____ credit card?” And you said no.
Remember how she then proceeded to say that you save 15% off your today’s purchase if you open an account and pay with your new card? So you did it. Because who doesn’t wanna save 15%, right? You were “instantly approved.”
Remember how you signed the little payment terminal with that plastic stylus? You could hardly read what it said because the words were so small and the quality wasn’t great. But you had to sign to get the 15% off and the credit card.
Why don’t you go sign in and check out your last statement on that Dillard’s or Sears credit card. Tell me what the APR is.
So, what’d you think? High? Low? More than likely, it’s unreasonably high. Store credit cards often carry higher interest rates than regular credit cards. So don’t be surprised when that $100 purchase carries over to the next month and becomes a $125 purchase.
Granted, store credit cards aren’t always bad. If you’re particularly loyal to a specific store, and the rewards for that card are decent, then it might be worth having. My Victoria’s Secret Credit Card earns rewards points that get me coupons; I can also use it at Bath and Body Works. Another great perks is that I can use my card, get my points, and pay my balance right there in the store. I will admit that the APR isn’t pretty. I try not to let that balance roll over. I always buy what I can afford and pay it off as soon as humanely possible. I love the stores that let you pay it off right in store.
Say you’re not particularly loyal to one store, but you want a credit card to build some credit. Apply for a low interest credit card at a credit union. Credit Unions are not-for-profit so they are able to offer lower rates and fewer fees than big banks. My local credit union, FTWCCU, has interest rates as low as 9.9% APR. You can use your card everywhere VISA or Mastercard is accepted, and pay it off as you make the money.
Emergencies arise every day, say you have a flat tire or hurt yourself at work. Credit cards are one way many Americans manage to stay above water in tough times. But the last thing you want to do is pay another huge chunk of your purchase because you applied for the wrong card. Know your worth.