Department Store Credit Cards: To Apply or Not to Apply?

Department Store Credit Cards:
Virtually all department stores offer credit cards to customers in good standing. In fact, it can be pretty easy to get one. But do you really want or need to apply for a store credit card? Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.

Advantages:

Many store sales offer extra discounts if you sign up for a credit card. You can take advantage of the discount and apply for a card, but then cancel the application later. You may want to use the card for a few months before making the final decision of whether to keep it or not, and this will give you access to more discounts.

Using a store credit card wisely can boost your credit rating. Don’t max out the card, but use it to buy things you normally would anyway, and then pay them off in full when the statement arrives within thirty days.

Having a store-specific credit card will help you focus mainly on the stores where you have credit accounts. This may deter you from random shopping at many different stores, and thus help to reduce overall spending. Also, when using a store’s credit card, you will be notified of special sales events and extra bonuses, sometimes ahead of the general public. This may lead to additional savings.

If you use your store credit card responsibly over time, you may be offered the option of extending your credit line. This could be useful for larger purchases, when needed, and could continue to enhance your credit score.

Disadvantages:

Some shoppers feel no need to have a store-specific credit card since they can use a general MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or other type of credit card. This eliminates the need of having to carry numerous cards with them for shopping at various locations.

Doing a large part of your shopping at a specific store where you have a credit card may reduce opportunities for great deals elsewhere. Some shoppers focus exclusively on sales promotions at stores where they hold credit accounts, and then miss out on price reductions at other stores. This can also limit opportunities to buy various types of quality merchandise if a specific store where you have a credit card does not carry certain products.

Getting a credit card for a specific store may increase your interest in getting more credit cards at other stores. Before you know it, you may have a dozen or more credit cards that could be overused and extend your budget if you’re not careful. If you decide to carry more than one store account, you may want to rotate their use to keep from using several of them around the same time and increasing purchases.

Holding several store credit cards requires careful monitoring of interest rates and promotional terms. It can become a juggling act to keep track of which store has the best deals this month while trying not to check out tempting wares at the other stores where you also have credit cards. Several credit cards for stores means you’ll have to be careful they aren’t lost or stolen, as you’ll then have to worry about how much damage a thief can do with several cards. You’ll have to contact all the stores and close several accounts only to possibly open new ones, all of which will require some time and effort.

There is really no right or wrong answer to whether you should apply for a store credit card. Compare the advantages with the disadvantages to decide whether it’s in your best interests. Make a reasonable decision rather than acting on impulse. You may decide buying online or using checks and cash may be better options. It might be helpful to talk to a customer service representative at the store where you’re thinking of getting a credit card to be sure you fully understand the terms and conditions first.

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