Store Credit Cards That Don't Suck

By Miranda Marquit. Last updated 27 July 2016. 2 comments

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In order to increase loyalty, many retailers will offer a store credit card, or partner with payment processors like MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover to offer co-branded credit cards. You can reap significant benefits with these cards, enjoying special discounts and perks at your favorite stores.

However, before you sign up for one of these, it's important to note the difference between store credit cards and store co-branded credit cards.

  • Store credit cards are cards that only work at the store. You might have access to some discounts and rewards, but the programs aren't usually generous, and the APRs are notoriously high.
  • Store co-branded credit cards feature the logo of a major payment processor as well as the store logo. These are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express cards that can be accepted anywhere the payment processor is used. These cards often have special rewards programs.

Should You Use a Store Credit Card?

It can be tempting to sign up for a store credit card. Many store cards offer big discounts to get you to apply. But this is usually a one-time perk. These types of department store credit cards have a few disadvantages:

  • Store credit cards can't be used at other retailers.
  • Interest rates are often higher than other credit cards..
  • Credit limits are usually lower than other credit cards.
  • Redemption might not be in cash back, but in store credit.
  • These cards don't have the same positive affect on your credit score as a card from a major bank card.

If you decide to get a store credit card, consider how often you shop at the store. The only way you can even begin to justify getting one of these cards is if you are a frequent shopper. It's also a good idea to avoid carrying a balance, since the cost of doing so can easily offset any perk you received for signing up. If you know you're going to carry a balance, use a credit card with a low APR instead.

Best Store Cards

These are the store credit cards with the best benefits for frequent shoppers.

Target REDcard

A popular choice is the REDcard from Target, which offers 5% off all your purchases at Target and Target.com. You also receive free shipping when you buy from Target's website and an extra 30 days to return items. You can also get a debit card version of the REDcard, which works like a check, and draws on your checking account. There is no annual fee for either card.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Target REDcard today!

Lowe's Consumer Card

Making large purchases for your home can be difficult to take in all at once, but that's where the Lowe's Consumer Card can help. Cardmembers have a few neat options to choose from when it comes to this card's benefits. First, they can choose to take 5% off their Lowe's purchase. But if they spend $299 or more on a purchase, then they can also choose to take the 6-month special financing plan, where they won't pay any interest on the purchase as long as it's paid in full within 6 months.

If $3,500 or more is spent on a purchase, cardholders have an additional choice of a 84-month special financing plan, where the purchase can be repaid at a reduced APR of 5.99% until it's paid in full within 84 months. The special financing offers cannot be combined with the 5% purchase discount. There is no annual fee.

Best Co-Branded Store Credit Cards

Co-branded credit cards can be great choices for regular shopping, especially if you already shop a great deal with that merchant. Purchases you spend outside of the store will help you build rewards to use at the store. Here are some of the best co-branded store credit cards.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

The new Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi from our partner Citi awards 4% back on gas purchases at Costco and other gas stations (on up to $7,000 per year), 3% back on restaurant and eligible travel purchases, 2% back on purchases at Costco and online at Costco.com, and 1% back on all other purchases. Your cash back reward coupon must be redeemed at Costco, but you can redeem the coupon for cash and spend your cash back elsewhere. There is no annual fee with a paid Costco membership.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi today!

Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card

If you are an avid shopper on Amazon.com, then the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card might be for you. You get three rewards points for each dollar you spend on Amazon.com, plus two points for each dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores. All other purchases are one point per dollar. There are no earning caps and no point expiration. There is no annual fee.

Shop with Points allows you to pay for Amazon.com purchases with your rewards, and you also have the option to redeem for cash back, gift cards, and travel. This Visa card is issued through Chase and is ideal for consumers who shop Amazon frequently.

Walmart MasterCard

The biggest retailer in the world offers a Walmart MasterCard with a 10% savings on purchases when you open an account (valid on purchases up to $250), 3% back on Walmart.com purchases, 2% back on Murphy USA and Walmart gas, and 1% at Walmart and anywhere else your card is accepted. You receive these savings as statement credit. Cardholders can also print out a certificate for special in-store financing for 6 or 12 months depending on the size of their purchase. Finally, all cardholders receive a free monthly FICO credit score so that they can keep track of the credit. There is no annual fee.

Sam's Club MasterCard

Sam's Club, the warehouse arm of the Walmart empire, offers a MasterCard that features 5% back at U.S. and Puerto Rican gas stations and on gas at Sam's Club (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year). 3% cash back is offered on all dining and travel purchases, and 1% cash back is earned elsewhere. Get a $40 statement credit when you open a Sam's Club consumer credit card and make a $100 purchase on the same day (offer valid through December 31, 2016). There is no annual fee for this card.

Nordstrom Visa Signature Card

This high-fashion department store offers a $20 Nordstrom Note (store credit) after new applicants spend $100 at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, or HauteLook on the day you're approved. Earn double points both online and in-store, and one point per dollar spent everywhere else. Cardholders also receive access to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale before the general public. There is no annual fee for this card.

SaksFirst World Elite MasterCard

If you want to earn rewards beyond the department store attached to the card, the SaksFirst World Elite MasterCard can work for the more upscale consumer. Not only can you earn 6 points for every dollar spent on purchases as Saks Fifth Avenue stores, you'll earn 3 points for every dollar spent on purchases at spas and salons, 2 points for every dollar spent on dining, gas, and grocery purchases, and 1 point for every dollar spent on your other purchases.

Cardholders will also get to enjoy some other nice benefits, including free shipping on Saks purchases made online and at their retail stores, advance notice of sales, invitations to exclusive events, and special offers and promotions from Saks Fifth Avenue available just for cardholders. You'll even receive $25 Saks Welcome Gift Card after you make your first purchase outside of Saks. This card offers no foreign transaction fees and no annual fees.

Gap Inc. Visa Card

The Gap Inc. Visa® Card is a great card for those who enjoy shopping at the Gap retail clothing stores. New applicants will receive 15% off their first purchase from a Gap store or from Gap.com that's made within the first 90 days from their account opening. Cardholders will also earn 5 points for every dollar spent on Gap purchases, along with 1 point for every dollar spent on every other purchase. Every 1,000 points earned will give them a $10 Gap Reward card, which they can use at any Gap or Gap-affiliated store, which includes Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta. There is no annual fee.

My Best Buy Visa

With the My Best Buy™ Visa, cardholders can earn reward points on both their Best Buy purchases as well as everyday purchases made outside of Best Buy. You can earn 5% back when you shop at Best Buy (or 6% back if you're an Elite Plus member), 2% on dining out and grocery purchases, and 1% on other everyday purchases. Plus, get 10% back on your first purchase upon approval.

You can also choose to receive special financing on your Best Buy purchases. Get 6-month financing on storewide purchases that total $199 or greater, 12-month financing if the total is $399 or greater, 18-month financing on major appliance purchases that total $599 or more, or 24-month financing on home theater purchases that total $799 or more. This card has an annual fee that ranges from $0 to $59 based on your creditworthiness.

TJX Platinum Rewards Credit Card

This credit card is offered by TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and Sierra Trading post as both a store charge card and a MasterCard. You get 10% off of your first online purchase and five points per dollar spent at all of their stores and at tjmaxx.com. You receive a $10 rewards certificate for every 1,000 points earned. There is no annual fee for this card.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

While the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is not offered by a single store, it is worth considering for its high rate of return on purchases from eligible department stores and other featured retailers. Cardholders earn 3% cash back from purchases made at select U.S. department stores. 3% cash back is also earned for U.S. gas purchases, and 6% is earned on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets. 1% cash back is earned on all other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee for this card ($75 if your application is received by 8/3/16). Terms and conditions apply.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express today!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

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Lisa B

I have a Victoria's Secret store card. I don't do a lot of business there, but I shop Bath and Body Works, especially for the semi-annual sale. You can use the VS card at BBW store! I always pay it off, and it works out fine. At this time, you can't use the VS card on-line at BBW. I hope they change that soon. Between the free panties and BBW free travel size items coupons I receive in the mail, I receive a $10 VS gift card on my birthday and some other times. It is a card worth having, just pay it off, because the interest is over 20%.

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Lisa B

I use my Amazon card mainly for Amazon purchases, but also have my college attending daughter on the card, in case she needs something I would normally pay for when I am not around. This is also a high-interest card, so thankfully I am now able to pay it in full at month's end. Couple this with Amazon Prime (discounted for college students) and you can save a good deal of money!
My mother also carries the Old Navy Visa with myself and my children on the card (20 and 25). She treats my daughter to some clothes a couple of times a year, but the most we use it is to pick up fast food every Sunday. Me being on the card me to pick up and take food to her and my father, allowing her to pay but not leave the house. My son doesn't need the card, but she insists on him having it in an emergency, and being a Visa it has helped us all at one time or another.
My point is that you receive Old Navy bucks by using this card. I don't know what the earning levels are, but we (my Mom, but as she is 75, she passes these to my daughter) receive probably $100 bucks a year to use at Old Navy or The Gap! Comes in very handy!