At The Sales Counter, Resist The Store-Card Pitch

With high interest rates, fewer benefits than normal credit cards, and a strong incentive to shop there more, signing up for a store credit card can be a bad decision. [Consumer Reports Money]


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  1. mac-phisto says:

    pretty good article, but it seems to focus a lot more on the bad than the good. i have a few store cards & some of the deals extend past the 10-20% off initial purchase. while the disclosed APR might be high, many of these cards regularly offer no-interest promotions that can make fitting that new tv, appliance, home improvement project or what-have-you easier to fit into your monthly budget. store cards frequently offer greater discounts/coupons on purchases year-round, allow you to earn credits toward future purchases & even upgrade shipping on purchases for free.

    does it make sense to open a credit line for 10-20% off a single purchase? no. but if you regularly shop at a retailer & their store credit offerings are generous, it’s worth contemplating.

    • Coelacanth says:

      In particular, the Banana Republic and Macy’s store cards are quite helpful. Almost every time I go there, there’s a promotion of some kind for cardholders. As long as I pay the balance in full, I win – a lot.

  2. jvanbrecht says:

    I find the general store cards (Best Buy and what not) I only use for the purchase that I wanted and then we are done with the card…

    Home Depot is another story, while I know its a mistake to rely on it, and their service has kind of sucked, the products are cheap, and we unfortunately spend alot of money on it. We bought a house at the peak of the market, and the house is falling apart like there is no tomorrow, stupid old houses… And in the current economy, while we are not hurting, we cannot afford major house repairs without the stupid card….. Atleast I do the work myself and only buy the materials there, and if I could get it elsewhere, I would (wife hates big box stores), but Home Depot is literally 5 min away, and drywall is expensive to have delivered…

  3. soulman901 says:

    Yes I can agree with this. However I want to point out that people with little or no credit history may be interested in these cards to start establishing credit. Be warned. Only use it for small purchases and pay them off as quickly as possible before Interest Accrues.

  4. zanthian says:

    This article showed up in my GReader with (title unknown) as the title. You may want to look into this… ;)

  5. Zanorfes says:

    Are the benefits of the store card better than those of a credit card? I don’t believe you have the same level of protection with those cards. I would prefer to forgo the additional discount if I’d be giving up the rights afforded me under a credit card.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    And most cards only offer discounts for the first purchase, so it’s not as if you get more coupons and more points. At the most, you get an extra 10% off as compared to non-cardholders.

    I think Banana Republic offers 10% every Tuesday to cardholders. That might be a pretty good incentive to get a store card with BR, if you shop with BR often.

    • merely_a_muse says:

      I have a store card from my favorite clothing store & they offer 5% off all card purchases (they also have a loyalty program that you get 5% after your first $250 but expires yearly). They also frequently have additional discounts for cardholders. Seeing as how a good 50% of my wardrobe is from them, it’s worth it for me.

    • Coelacanth says:

      Yup. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price on anything when I’ve used a BananaCard. Macy’s is also pretty good about its promotions, too.

  7. pop top says:

    Slightly off-topic but… Even if you hate credit cards and don’t want to be pitched one, please just be a human being and let the worker get through their spiel and say “No thanks.” Most stores that have credit cards require their cashiers to ask every person every time as part of their performance metrics. It’s not the worker’s fault their company sucks.

    • Eldritch says:

      This. In my store, we’re required to ask everyone and could be fired if we’re caught not doing it. It makes me so angry when people shout at me half-way through. It’s just my job!

      • Smashville says:

        At least Target has the “Would you like to save 10 percent today?”

        I don’t think they think anything of it when you answer, “No, thank you.” They just know you’ve heard the pitch already.

    • blueduckconsumerist says:

      Wait, it IS their fault if their company sucks… isn’t it?

      • oloranya says:

        No, because the poor sap working minimum wage doesn’t set the ridiculous store policies that mean they loose their job if they don’t get enough credit cards in a given week.

    • That's Consumer007 to you says:

      Isn’t it more human to quickly say no thanks and save them their breath? I mean…really, why string them along, that’s more cruel. (Assuming one cares for the cashier peon, I know, not many do.)

      • That's Consumer007 to you says:

        It might be refreshing to hear, just once:

        “They have this promotion and I’m supposed to tell you about it. Do you want to hear about it? It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you skip it.”

        That I could respect a lot more.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Because even if you say no, they still have to make their spiel. One of the things that we retail peons (or in my case, former retail peon) have to do is make the spiel. We personally don’t care if you say yes, but it reflects poorly on us if we don’t even try. And managers watch like hawks.

    • Landru says:

      I think it’s time to start being nicer to those poor saps working at those stores. They need the job and most of the time they are threatened with job loss if they don’t pitch the cards. I do hate having to say no, but I’d hate even more to have to ask folks.

    • HaydenGrace says:

      yes!! this exactly!! i’m sorry i didn’t see your comment earlier.

  8. MFfan310 says:

    Some stores actually make it hard to resist store credit cards.

    Take Neiman Marcus, for example: last time I checked, it’s their card, American Express, cash or check only for their stores (but not their website, oddly enough). And the strategy is effective: over half of their transactions are done using their store cards (issued by HSBC, BTW). But I won’t shop there because of it… too bad, because they have some nice fragrances.

  9. MadameX says:

    Many store cards offer percent-off discounts frequently for their cardholders. If you shop at a store frequently and you pay off the balance right away, you can save a lot of money with the store card. I’ve even walked upstairs to customer service and paid off my balance minutes after a purchase. If they’re going to give me 15-20% off, it’s worth the minor inconvenience.

  10. Stephmo says:

    I do love my Lowe’s card, tho – pay off every month and then once in a while take advantage of their zero percent financing for six months for major home improvement projects. Occasional coupons come in handy as well. Last time that was the supplies for the bathroom remodel – including a jacuzzi tub. Money used to pay it off sat in savings collecting a tiny bit more interest.

    I really do think it’s a matter of saying, “what do I really shop for a lot?” and asking yourself if extra discounts/offers/sales work out in your favor. I have friends that swear by their Khols and Target cards.

  11. 4phun says:

    Everyone it seems wants to give me a new credit card. I find it really irritating that they do not understand no thanks.

  12. Bohemian says:

    I can deal with the brief sales pitch in among the transaction even though I don’t like it. What annoys me to the point of becoming rude is when they ask me three times or try to debate me about why I should get one. I had one person kept repeating “but you get 10% off” like it was the deal of a lifetime and I wasn’t getting it. When you hit the point of harassing the customer your failing as a retailer.

    BTW, Target gives you the same perks if you sign up for their pharmacy rewards card as they do if you have their store credit card. 10% off coupon for every 10 refills, special store coupons in the mail and the occasional free shipping coupon. The store brand product coupons are worthwhile and I save the 10% off coupons for weeks we have a ton of things to buy at Target, like back to school.

  13. incident_man says:

    The biggest reason why I don’t use store credit cards or in-house financing plans is that if you’re dissatisfied with the purchase or you end up buying a lemon, you’re at the store’s mercy (the store’s sales/repair policy)… have no recourse like you would with Visa, MC, Amex, or Discover. I’ve been stung too many times that way and now I just say no, regardless of how sweet the deal is.

  14. Truthie says:

    I just usually tell the salesperson that the last thing I need is another credit card (not that I have debt, but I seriously don’t need another card) and that tends to end the conversation.

  15. TheWillow says:

    I much prefer the general store “discount” cards that cost like $20 a year but save you 10-20% every time you use them. I don’t mind sharing my info or getting some junk mail if it saves me money in the long run – especially if you share one discount card between a whole household (sorry B&N that phone # I keep giving you is my mom’s… you’d think the fact that it’s a different area code would be a clue)

  16. dotkat says:

    I like store cards. I get great discounts with them and I use them responsibly. I pay them off in full every month and have never, ever kept a balance on one. I signed up for the Target store card and saved 10% on my HDTV (which was already on sale). It was an excellent deal. IF you pay your bills on time and manage your money wisely, these cards can actually save you money.

  17. HaydenGrace says:

    The only reason I did not receive the highest review possible was because I did not get enough people to sign up for the store credit card.