In this week’s “Show Me the Money,” we’re right in the middle of the holiday shopping season and we’ve all been tempted by promises of big discounts by signing up for a store’s credit card.
But is getting a store’s credit card really a good idea?
Reasons for that regret include poor customer service and high-interest rates, often just shy of 30% APR.
Experts say to make sure you always read the cardholder agreement first. Twenty percent of retail store credit cardholders still have debt from last year’s holiday shopping season.
“One big danger to keep an eye out for on a retail store credit card is deferred interest. Deferred interest is a 0% or low APR promotional period that allows you time to pay down that purchase with little to no interest. Unfortunately, deferred interest offers usually if not paid in full in that period can charge you interest on the purchase amount on the date you charged it. That can leave you paying a significant amount of interest on a purchase even if you have a dollar left on the balance at the end of that promotional period,” said Greg Mahnken, of Credit Card Insider.
There’s one more important thing you need to be aware of: fees can really add up. Retail cards are very enticing because of discounts, sales, bonuses, and special financing, but experts say don’t get pressured into applying for one just because you’re in the check-out line.
“We found that 85% of people that did apply for retail credit card applied in stores. It’s always important to do due diligence on any financial product before you apply or sign up for it,” Mahnken said.
Ask yourself will you shop there enough? A lot of retail store cards are closed-loop cards, meaning you can only use them at that particular store, like the Target card or the Kohl’s card.
Also, make sure you will spend in a way that you will still get value from the benefits offered. If you’re someone who pays the balance over time and racks up interest charges, you’ll just be erasing any discount and benefits you’ll see from the card.