There Are Pros And Cons To Opening Up A Store Credit Card Account

5:21 PM, Jul 24, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- You're done shopping and when you're ready to pay the cashier offers perks like discounts, cash back or free shipping, if pay apply for a store credit card. 

But, money advisers say resist the immediate urge to say yes.

"Some of the biggest stores like Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Sears charge around 25 percent interest on unpaid balances.  That's about twice average you'd pay with a traditional bank card," Greg Daughtery.

Cash back and rewards offers sound good.  Walmart touts one percent cash back on all purchases.  But in small type there's a big red flag. 

You have to spend $3,000 a year before you get the full one percent cash back.

But some stores do offer cards with very good cash back terms.   At LL Bean you can get three percent back in store coupons that you have a year to use.

Even better, Target's credit card gives five percent back right at the checkout.

Daughtery says, "Stores like Target and Nordstroms offer a different kind of plastic, debit cards.  These take money directly from your bank account.  But, if you overdraw you can be hit with hefty fees.  So, they're not for everyone."

For big ticket items, consider a store card from electronics and home stores like Apple, Best Buy Lowe's and The Home Depot.

These generally offer six months to a year of interest-free financing.

But, pay the balance on time or interest will will be charged retroactively.

Money experts say it's generally easier to get a store credit card than a bank card.  So, they can help you build a credit history.

But, if you open up too many store credit cards at once, that can hurt your credit history.

Consumer Reports Store Credit Card Buying Guide

Also, many stores offer credit cards that are branded American Express, MasterCard or Visa.  These allow you to get rewards for purchases at other stores, too.

LL Bean's Visa and Costco's American Express have have some consumer friendly terms that are worth checking out.

Bottom line, if you choose carefully, a store credit card can be a real perk.

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