Store cards feel like a modern invention. It’s just another brick in the consumerist wall. But these cards actually predate credit cards. Companies offered them to regular customers as an incentive to get them to spend more, and over the years they have become a favorite with customers and companies alike.
In this guide to the best store cards and the worst store cards we will look at the things you might have missed to determine which ones you should signup for and which ones you should avoid. Of course, this is purely our opinion and your own opinion may differ.
The Best Store Cards
These cards are great whether you’re a regular shopper at these destinations or you just drop by on occasion. In most cases the cards can also be used at other stores, but as you will see, the real benefits come when you use them in the store that provided you with the card.
1. Amazon Prime Store Card
It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that our best store card comes from a company often ranked as the best retailer in the world, with more variety, bigger savings, and greater delivery speed than most of their rivals.
You can make up to 5% cash back using this card and there are also 0% financing options. If you buy a lot of things from Amazon as many customers do, then you could save hundreds of dollars a year using this card, especially if you are able to pay off your balance every month or tap into one of their 0% interest rates.
2. CostCo Store Card
The APR for purchases on this store card is just 16.74%, and there are a number of great rewards as well. You can get anywhere from 1% to 4% cashback on everything from gas to travel and there are other benefits as well. It can be used anywhere and perks are not limited to purchases made within CostCo.
The only downside to the CostCo card is that you need to be a member in order to use it. But you also need to be a member to shop here, so it only makes sense.
3. Target RedCard Store Card
You can earn 5% in rewards on all of your Target purchases, and because they sell such a wide variety of products that pretty much includes everything you could need. There is also a Target debit card which we actually prefer. Not only does it offer 5% on purchases, but it doesn’t impact on your credit score when you apply and if you have low or bad credit that could be crucial.
4. TJX Store Card
This store card does not have the best interest rate, but you can get 10% off your first order and you can also secure a 5% cash back rate on purchases at all qualifying stores. These stores include TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Sierra Trading Post and Marshalls. You can also use it at the TJ Maxx online store.
Just make sure you pay off your bill every month or this card can get expensive fast. There’s no point signing up for $20 cash back every month if it is going to cost you $100+ in interest and late fees.
5. GapCard VISA Store Card
You can save 20% and get free shipping when you first use your GapCard, but there is much more to it than that. They also have a reward scheme that offers you $5 cash back for every 500 points, which works out at a spend of $100 in the Gap store and $500 outside of it. You can gather these points and spend them at all stores owned by the same company, which includes Old Navy and Banana Republic.
There is no annual fee, there are many ways to earn and redeem, and there are upgrades as well. The interest is high (25.24%) and there is a late fee charge, but you will struggle to find a better store card for clothing.
The Worst Store Cards
It's not all sunshine and cash back. Store cards fall into one of two categories. They are either there to promote loyalty, give a little back and generate some additional purchases and excitement for a brand, or they are there to latch onto the coattails of the store card trend, pilfer customer money and hide stingy terms in a Scroogelike list of Ts & Cs.
These are the worst store cards based on our research. It’s worth noting, however, that if you shop a lot at any of these stores and you’re willing to pay off your balance each month, then these cards may still be beneficial. However, it would make more sense to get a good rewards credit card and use that instead.
1. The Apple Rewards Card
If you have good credit, this is a fantastic store card with a low APR. If, however, you have no credit or bad credit, you could be paying as much as 27.24%. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the reward scheme is not very good either.
Your loyalty points can be turned into iTunes coupons or Apple gift cards, but the amount you need to spend is nothing short of absurd. Every $1 you spend at an Apple store will net you three points. That’s not too bad. But every $1 you spend elsewhere will only get you 1, and a $25 gift card/certificate requires a massive 2,500 points!
That means that you need to spend $2,500 outside the Apple store just to get $25, and inside it you need to spend $833. So, if you splash the cash on a brand new iPhone at over $800 then this scheme will give you a couple new albums to load onto it.
2. Dick’s Sporting Good
There are a few issues we have with this store card. Firstly, the APR is a huge 27.24%. Secondly, while the cashback is acceptable (you can earn up to 6%) the points expire every year on the 31st of January. The average person will not buy enough in a single year of shopping at this store in order to get anything worthwhile.
With an APR of 29.24%, this is a contender for the worst store card on our list. This is the sort of retailer where customers make huge purchases maybe once or twice in their lifetimes, and with a APR like that they could be paying for those purchases throughout their lifetimes.
If you miss a payment you will be charged a fee just shy of $40, so you better make sure you can pay that high interest rate before you take this card out.
There are no signup bonuses, no enticing points programs, and the Staples store card charges a staggering 28.24% APR. You can get a couple dollars when you return ink cartridges to be refilled and you can also get some additional member incentives, such as cash back and free shipping, but it’s not the most generous and there is no excuse for an APR that high.
5. Ascena Retailer Group
Maybe it’s harsh to lump an entire retail group on our list of the worst store cards, but it’s because all of their stores, including Lane Bryant and Justice, charge an APR of 27.24%. The reward schemes differ from store to store and some of them offer as much as $5 cash back on every $100, otherwise they would be much higher on this list.