How to Evaluate Store Credit Card Offers

The majority of retailers provide their customers with credit cards, which typically come with cash-back rewards and other benefits. Before signing up for the card, however, you should carefully consider the advantages of doing so. Furthermore, you should consider whether or not you really require another credit card at this time. Store credit cards can have a negative impact on your credit score and may lead to you becoming further in debt.

Part 1 Analyzing the Card’s Benefits

1. Inquire as to whether the card can be used anywhere. Depending on the retailer, some store credit cards can only be used in the store or at a limited number of other retailers. These are what are known as “closed-loop” cards. If you want a credit card that you can use anywhere, look for one that is labelled as “open-loop.”

Open loop cards are frequently identified by the logos of Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express on their fronts.

2. Check to see if you are eligible for a cash refund. It’s possible that your credit card will give you a percentage of each purchase. For example, you might receive 5 percent cash back on every purchase you make at a store like Walmart.

Depending on the purchase, some credit cards provide even greater cash back. In the case of gasoline purchases, for example, a credit card might provide double cash back.

Another type of credit card will rotate categories each month, allowing you to earn additional cash back.

Also, check to see if there are any restrictions on the amount of money you can spend and still be eligible for cash back.

3. Identify the discount you receive when you sign up for the card. This could be a much higher proportion of the total. When you first use the card, you might be eligible for a discount of 10-20 percent off your purchase. Remember that this is a one-time offer intended to persuade you to sign up for a particular service.

If you intend to obtain the card, make certain that you purchase a sufficient amount of merchandise. When you run into a store to buy leggings, you will not receive the card. Instead, wait until you’ve made a significant number of purchases before applying for the card.

When you first receive the card, inquire as to whether there is a spending limit on the amount you can spend.

4. Take a look at the interest rate on the credit card. All unpaid balances on your store credit card will be subject to interest charges. This is a number that you will need to pay close attention to. The average annual percentage rate (APR) for store credit cards is 25-30 percent.

The interest rate on a store’s credit card is frequently higher than the interest rate on a credit card obtained through a bank.

special sales

high-value coupons

invitations to member-only events

no-receipt returns

free gift wrapping

free shipping

5. Check out the details on how to redeem your rewards. It is possible that your cash back will be credited to your account and deducted from any remaining balance. Other cards, on the other hand, may send you a gift card once you have accrued a certain number of points. Ask how you can get your rewards redeemed if you have any questions.

Some credit cards make it extremely difficult to cash in on rewards. For example, some cards may only allow you to redeem rewards once a year.

Some credit cards will also not carry over a balance from one month to the next. This means that you must redeem your rewards on a monthly basis, or else you will lose them.

6. Inquire if there is a promotion for delayed payments. Frequently, the card comes with a 0 percent financing period to get you started. It is possible to avoid making payments for a period of six months or longer during this period. Due to the fact that you can pay a small amount each month, you might think this is a great deal.

If, on the other hand, you do not pay off your balance in full by the end of the grace period, you may be subjected to a significant amount of interest.

Check to see if the interest rate applies only to the portion of the balance that has not been paid or if it applies retroactively to the entire initial balance. This has the potential to make a significant difference.

7. Look into cards from other retail establishments. There are a plethora of options available. Consequently, you should shop around for the most advantageous card. Cash back, interest rates, and deferred payment periods for a variety of credit cards are all available for comparison.

Look it up on the internet. Some websites, such as NerdWallet, have compiled a list of the best store credit cards for your consideration.

Another useful resource, the Consumer Reports store credit card buying guide, can be found at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/store-credit-cards/buying-guide/.

Part 2 Assessing Whether You Need the Card or Not

1. Calculate how much you are likely to save by making an educated guess. Examine the cash back rewards offered by the card and make an educated guess as to how much money you will save each year. In addition to the initial discount, if you rarely make purchases that qualify for cash back, there is little reason to get the card other than the initial discount.

2. Check in with yourself to see how comfortable you are with opening a new credit card. The greater the number of credit cards you have, the greater the likelihood that you will forget to make a payment on one of them. If you already have a slew of credit cards, you may want to decline a store credit card offer. Experts advise you to keep your collection to three or four cards at a time.

If you are conscientious about your current cards, you may be able to handle a new card as easily.

3. Recognize the ways in which the card can affect your credit score. Among other things, your credit score determines the amount of money you pay for your mortgage and car, as well as whether you can rent an apartment and even land a job. The better your credit score, the better your chances of getting a loan. The use of a store credit card will have the following effects on your credit score:

In order to process your application, the credit card provider will need to check your credit history. Consequently, there will be a “hard pull.” If you have a high number of hard pulls on your credit report, your credit score may suffer.

It’s possible that you’ll get the card for the initial discount and then decide to cancel it. The length of your credit history, on the other hand, accounts for 15 percent of your credit score. Opening and closing an account in a short period of time can cost you money.

A store credit card, on the other hand, is a good option if you are trying to establish a positive credit history. Retail credit cards are typically easier to obtain than credit cards issued by a financial institution. By establishing a credit history with a store credit card, you will eventually be able to qualify for a credit card from a financial institution.

4. Confirm that you are paying off your outstanding balance in full each month. If you are unable to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, there is little point in opening a store credit card. Any “cash back” that you receive for purchases will be cancelled out by the interest that you accrue.

The other benefits you might have received, such as coupons, will also be forfeited.

It’s important to remember that stores provide these cards for a reason. They are hoping to profit from your situation!

5. Examine your credit card debt situation. If you receive cash back, you may be tempted to spend more money than you would normally—and more money than you can realistically afford to pay back. Make a list of all of your credit card debt. Takeout a store rewards card is not recommended for those who are in financial difficulty.

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