Say No To (Most) Store Credit Cards

Holiday Cat here. My cousin Tax Cat is out shopping, so I thought I’d pop in and offer some helpful tips before he comes back with his calculator and thick glasses and ruins everything. So, shoppers, let’s talk about store cards. Specifically, let’s talk about they kind of suck.

Sure, you may be promised an instant discount of 10%, but if you don’t pay off your balance each month, you can be hit with interest rates of up to 29%.

“Store charge cards can be very expensive if you don’t pay the bill in full every month,” said Chuck Bell, Programs Director for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports and parent company to Consumerist. “Don’t succumb to high-pressure holiday pitches to open up a new store account without carefully checking the interest rate, penalty and late fees, and other fine print.”

If you pay off your balance every month, Consumer Reports has found some store cards worth considering. Barnes & Noble’s card comes with an instant $25 gift card, and up to 5% off of purchases. Cards offered by the Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime, Athleta and Old Navy come with 15% off on the day they’re issued, and five points for every dollar spent at any of the five retailers.

If you usually don’t pay off your balance each month, you should stay away from all store credit cards. “A store card is not for you if you’ll be tempted to buy more things than you normally would to get more card rewards,” warns Consumer Reports. “Because many store cards charge high APRs, skip them entirely if you tend to carry balances. Instead pick a bank card with the lowest interest rate you can find.”

Store cards with the best rewards [Consumer Reports]