How To Improve Your Credit Score With Department Store Credit Cards

A worker in the credit industry, Derek, gave us some tips to help young Paul boost his access to credit so he can live his American Dream.

1) Apply for department store cards, like at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s. These are “in-house revolving credit lines” and are not bank-issued.
2) Make a few small purchases with them, $25-$50.
3) Do not apply for any more credit cards, as that will raise his inquiry level
4) Most “pre-approved” letters are garbage, ignore them.
5) Wait 60-90 days, and your credit access should be boosted. Apply for a new card with a bigger name like American Express, or with a larger bank.

The advice also holds true for any person trying to get a leg up on building their credit history. — BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY: 20 And No One Will Give Me Credit, What’s Up?


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  1. silencedotcom says:

    One thing to add – beware of some specific stores. Some are easier to get credit cards in than others. From my experience, Target National Bank is one of the easiest ones, whereas a Best Buy credit card is extremely hard for people with even somewhat good credit to get. Just a little something to keep in mind.. not all stores are alike.

  2. I was shocked when I found out my limit granted to me by Saks Fifth Avenue when I applied on a whim. It’s more than all my regular credit cards combined.

  3. vrykoul says:

    On my credit report through equifax(I think, I checked all three one day a couple of months ago), these revolving lines of credit are noted as a possible negative. I had four different lines of credit, all of which had zero balance for the last 3+ years, but the comment noted that these type of credit lines are considered high risk and people with these types of credit lines are more likely to default.

  4. 47ka says:

    This is a very bad idea. My mother had a store card that she ended up not using for many years, and someone stole it without her knowing. She found out when she applied for a car loan that her account had been compromised and someone had charged thousands to it. Doesn’t constantly cancelling cards also damage your credit history?

    Get a secured card, it changes over in a year and you can upgrade. AND you can use it anywhere, which is good because they don’t sell gas at any Macy’s I know of.

  5. kwamie says:

    Good Lord! Has anyone listened to Elizabeth Warren on NPR discuss the abusive lending practices by credit card companies? The American Dream is a sham. Debt is not wealth.

    Check out the book or movie “Maxed Out” or visit or even the book “Toxic Sludge is Good For You”.

    I wish I knew 20 years ago what I know now. I would’ve never borrowed a dime or gotten my first credit card.

    I’m trying to prevent my son from ruining his life and doing the same.

  6. TonyTriple says:

    I wish I had the chance to ruin my credit! As soon as I was eligible for a line of credit (19yrs old), my parent took that opportunity to put several bills in my name.

    Now as a 23 yr old college student, I could barely even get a cell phone contract! (apparently I qualified for a student loan, humph!)

    I suppose there is nothing I could do about this…could I?

  7. CruelCritic says:


    Hammers kill. Have you taught your son to avoid nails? Credit is a tool. If it is used wisely, it can be used to a consumer’s credit. Idiots that believe that credit is always bad or that it allows them to buy things they can not afford are the ones that get burned.

    Know the rules. Understand how to play their game.

    I have not paid a dime for my credit cards. And yet, these schmucks just paid for three airline tickets for me & my family.

  8. thrillhouse says:

    I hear ya, Kwamie. When I read crap like “Derek, gave us some tips to help young Paul boost his access to credit so he can live his American Dream.” it makes me want to throw up too.

    Zero-balance credit cards are considered a liability when you go to get a mortgage, because guess what happens when you buy a house? You go shopping! And believe it or not, people will pay Discover before the mortgage and utilities. But think of all the cash-back!

  9. yooper1019 says:


    No offense but good luck to your son when he want to buy a house.

  10. @yooper1019: All his son has to do is rent for a couple of years and pay the rent on time. In other posts related to credit someone (I think it was thrillhouse) said that this entitles you to the prime rate.

  11. karmaghost says:

    I’ll never figure out how credit works. I haven’t been able to apply for a decent credit card with a decent spending limit until last month, when I applied for a card and was welcomed with open arms and a huuuuuge (for me) spending limit. Before, I had no credit at all (not bad credit), so maybe something just kicked in, but I’m still clueless as to how this all works.

  12. mantari says:

    I got my first credit card when I was 14. It was a JC Penny. I truthfully put on the application that I received $10/week, and $25/week if I mow the lawn. Getting a credit card that early helped me to build a credit history (again: one of the major plus factors on a credit score is the length that the longest account has been open).

    Mind you, 15 years or so down the road, Chase and Citibank took turns trying to man-rape me, even with a perfect payment history. I let my balances get too high and they figured I had no place to run. I was captive, so they’d turn up the heat, is all I can figure.

    #1 lesson learned about credit cards: they are a self-feeding cycle. You don’t have money for the things that you want, so you put something on a credit card. Which reduces the cash that you have at a later time. Later, you don’t have the money for the things that you want, so you put something on a credit card…

    It just feeds on itself and slowly gets worse from there.

    So, yeah, carrying a balance with credit cards is a legendary trap that I’m going to avoid. I think that if more people understood the self-feeding debt spiral (described above), they’d save themselves a lot of agony.

  13. nffcnnr says:

    I think you missed an important step, or perhaps it goes without saying. I would add as Step 3: Pay off your balance every month.

  14. thrillhouse says:


    file a police report. Your parent has committed criminal fraud, and you are in no way liable for the charges. Being akin doesn’t make it ok.

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    I’m not so sure that you are ‘entitled’ to it, but it goes a long way to showing a positive record of payment. That paired with other important information can qualify you.


    I’ve never had a credit card, and I’ve never had trouble getting a mortgage. A credit card is not the necessity that Visa and MC commercials have made it out to be.

  15. vrykoul says:


    Revolving lines of credit are not the same as bank issued credit cards, at least not in the eyes of one of the credit reporting agencies. That was the point that I was trying to make.

  16. ShadowFalls says:


    If this was done without your knowing, you need to file a police report on the matter as this is fraud. I know a person who did this with their two young kids as well and never paid the bills. The only way you can clear your credit is to file the police report and dispute those charges, if you do not, you have to deal with it.

    Building your credit is important, if you plan to make a large non-cash purchase such as a new car or house down the line, the better the credit, the better rates you can get. From what I have seen, it is easier to get credit from Chase, as long as you are responsible these are not issues, I use my Circuit City card to pay my monthly bills and earn reward points, pay it off at the end of the month and I am happy, almost win-win to me.