Who doesn’t love getting a little bit extra for their shopping? Store credit cards can offer discounts or money off vouchers. But they can also tie you into shopping with one retailer. We take a look at what they are and what you need to consider before getting one.
What is a store card?
A store card is a credit card issued by a retailer. Typically, it can only be used with that specific store, although that is not always the case these days.
Retailers like to offer store credit cards in order to guarantee customer loyalty. So you will most likely be offered discounts off your shopping or receive invitations to exclusive shopping events if you are a cardholder.
A store card operates in the same way as a credit card. So you buy things using your card, and then you are required to pay off the balance at the end of the month. And just like a credit card, if you fail to pay off the balance in full you will be charged interest.
What is the difference between a store card and a credit card?
A store card is essentially a credit card, but it is designed for use at a particular retail chain.
It is important to not confuse a store card with a credit card linked to a store. John Lewis Partnership, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda all offer a store-branded credit card. But the key difference is that these cards can be used anywhere. They are not tied to being used only in the named chain.
The traditional store credit card is different in that it is restricted for use at the specified retail chain. This is obviously great if you shop at that retailer a lot. But it can feel restrictive and it may not be the best deal overall.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
As with anything, there are good and bad aspects to these types of cards. Let’s take a look.
- Discounts: A big perk of having a store credit card is that you will often receive discounts or other special offers. These will either come in the form of money off vouchers or a percentage off your bill.
- Other perks: You may find that as a store credit cardholder you will get exclusive access to presale events. You may also be offered other perks such as free delivery on online orders.
- Higher interest: The main thing to be aware of when it comes to a store credit card is that the interest rate tends to be higher than that of a regular credit card. In some cases, you could be looking as high as 30%. This is not a problem if you pay off your balance in full each month. However, if you leave any sort of outstanding balance, you could see your interest charges rise quite rapidly.
- Restrictive: By their nature, these types of cards can only be used with one retail chain. If you don’t use that particular chain that frequently, or need to use a credit card for other things, then it may not be the right kind of card for you.
- Impact on your credit score: Having a store credit card will affect your credit score. Lenders take into account all of your open credit accounts, so you may find that holding a card like this could impact future credit applications.
Are they different to reward cards?
Yes, they are different to reward credit cards. While a store credit card may offer discounts and perks, a reward credit card enables you to collect points every time you shop, no matter where you choose to use it.
Reward points can typically then be used for money off your bill or you can exchange the points for vouchers. For example, credit cards that help you earn Nectar points or are part of the Tesco Clubcard scheme are a form of reward credit card. While they can be attached to a retailer, they are different from a store credit card because you can earn these reward points through other retailers too.
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