If you’ve listened to money expert Clark Howard on the radio, you know that he doesn’t think too highly of store-only credit cards, which he describes as a “piece of trash.”
However, some of these cards are better than others, a CreditCards.com study has revealed.
This store credit card charges 30% interest
Sales associates will often push these cards at the cash register, usually by highlighting sign-up bonuses that may offer 15% off or 0% interest for a year — but they won’t be as excited to tell you about the standard interest rate.
The average store card charges 23.84%, much higher than the national average for all credit cards (15.18%), according to CreditCards.com.
Cards with the highest interest rates
- Big Lots credit card: 29.99%
- Zales Jewelers credit card: 29.24%
- Staples credit card: 28.24%
Cards with the lowest interest rates
- Dillard’s, 10.24%
- Military Star, 10.49%
- Nordstrom Visa Signature, 11.15%
For the study, CreditCards.com gathered data on every card offered by the top 100 retailers in the United States, including 42 store-only cards.
These one-store-only cards aren’t usable outside of that particular store or a group of stores.
However, there are some credit cards that carry store branding but are still Visa or MasterCard, so they can be used anywhere — and they usually have lower interest rates.
This is an important distinction because it’s the store-only cards that Clark really dislikes.
In addition to high interest rates and low credit limits, one-store-only cards tend to charge retroactive interest if you don’t pay in full before a 0% financing offer is up.
“With their outrageously high APRs, most consumers would be wise to steer clear of these cards unless they’re 100% certain they can pay their balance off every single month,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “And even then, there are plenty of general-purpose credit cards with better sign-up bonuses.”
While the study found that sign-up bonuses are getting skimpier overall, the best store cards are most useful to regular shoppers or those making large-dollar purchases — not people who use them occasionally.
Clark says Target’s REDcard, which offers 5% off, may be worthwhile if you shop there all the time.
Recap of Clark’s take:
- One-store-only credit cards are inferior to general-purpose cards
- Always pay your balance in full every month
- Read the fine print to avoid deferred or retroactive interest