A warning you hear often during holiday shopping season is to be careful of store credit cards. It can seem as if nearly every retailer is offering a credit card application at checkout and raving about the benefits. Yet a careful review of the application often reveals high interest rates, poor terms and minimal rewards.
Nevertheless, there are some retail credit cards that can make a worthy addition to your wallet. The best ones offer at least one outstanding feature. That feature could be a competitive financing offer, a valuable rewards program, or some exclusive perks and benefits.
Here are five store cards you may want to consider.
1. Target REDcard
This big-box retailer’s store card is one of the best available for several reasons. First, it offers a 5% discount on all Target purchases in the store or online at Target.com. When shopping online, cardholders receive free shipping on purchases of $50 or more, which even includes addresses in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. Finally, cardholders enjoy an extra 30 days to return their purchases, on top of Target’s normal 30-day return policy. There is no annual fee for this card, but the interest rate is a rather high 22.9%. Like other reward cards, this product is best used by those who pay their statement balances in full.
2. Gap Visa Card
GE Bank offers both a GapCard that is for store purchases, and a Gap Visa card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. These cards offer the equivalent of 5% cash back on in-store purchases at Gap brands which include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases. Like most store cards, rewards are delivered in the form of a credit that can be used online or in stores. Cardholders also receive other perks such as free shipping, special birthday savings and an additional 10% discount each Tuesday. Finally, new cardholders receive an additional 15% off their first purchase at Gap stores. There is no annual fee for this card, but the standard interest rate is 23.99%.
3. Costco TrueEarnings Card From American Express
The Costco American Express is an unusual store card, offering 3% cash back on up to $4,000 spent on gasoline purchases, 2% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases, including purchases at Costco. Ca rdholders receive their rewards once a year as an award coupon that they can use at Costco or redeem for cash. Finally, this card can be used wherever American Express cards are accepted and it is one of the few store cards with lower interest rates — 0% introductory financing on new purchases for the first six months, then a standard rate of 15.24%. There is no annual fee for this card with a paid Costco membership.
4. Pottery Barn
This home furnishings store offers cardholders a rewards program that returns a $25 gift card for every $250 in purchases, the equivalent of 10% back. In addition, Pottery Barn often offers promotional discounts such as double rewards days around the holidays. There is no annual fee for this card, but it can be used only at Pottery Barn stores.
5. Amazon Rewards Visa
Chase offers this Visa card co-branded with the online shopping giant Amazon. It features three reward points per dollar spent at Amazon.com, double points at gas stations, restaurants and drugstores, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. (100 points equals $1 off an Amazon purchase; reward points may also be used for cash back, gift cards, travel and more.) New applicants also receive a $30 Amazon gift card and the interest rate will be 14.24%, 19.24% or 22.24% depending on the applicant’s creditworthiness. There is no annual fee for this card, and it can be used anywhere that Visa is accepted.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for creditcards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
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