There are countless store credit cards out there begging for your attention this holiday shopping season, but not every card is worth putting in your wallet.
Each one pitches you some level of discount for signing up for the card. Sometimes that discount has to be used the day you’re approved and, other times, the discount is applied to your first purchase.
We know that finding the right store credit card can be a little overwhelming, especially since you’re getting pitched card after card while you do your holiday shopping. Smart choices and clear thinking are the key, which is why we’ve narrowed down all store credit cards to 10 of the best.
For each store credit card we cover, we’ll give you the card’s perks, APR, fees, and penalties. At the end of this guide, we’ll give you our thoughts on the pros and cons of opening up store credit cards with the retail brands we’ve covered.
Known as the REDcard, Target’s credit card is a popular choice for customers of the 11th largest retailer in the United States. The card can be used on the Target website or in any brick-and-mortar store.
Perks of the Target Credit Card
The card has three main perks:
- Free two-day shipping on most orders from Target’s website
- An extra 30 days for returns
- 5% discount on most Target purchases
There are some exceptions to each of these perks. For instance, you won’t get a 5% discount on prescriptions or over-the-counter medications behind the pharmacy desk, eye exams at Target, some restaurants in Target stores and a few other types of purchases.
The longer return period does not count for purchases made through Target Mobile or items with a fixed return date or no return eligibility.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Target Credit Card
The APR on the Target credit card is a straight 24.90% which, based on our research of more than 100 credit cards, is very high and usually reserved for people with bad credit. Many of the cards we review have a range of APR’s that start in the low- to mid-teens and stop between 19% and 24%.
We want to give you an idea of how much a store credit card’s 24.90% APR will cost you compared to a regular credit card with a 15.24% APR if you spend $1,000 on gifts and such at Target.
First, you have to remember that Target cardmembers get a 5% discount on that $1,000 purchase, so their store card balance will be $950, which is a $50 savings right off the bat.
Now, let’s get to the interest payments you’d pay if you carried the $950 daily balance for 12 months on the Target card versus $1,000 on a cash-back card:
- $950 with the Target card’s 24.90% APR equals about $236 in interest payments over 12 months.
- $1,000 with a regular credit card’s 15.24% APR equals about $152 in interest payments over 12 months.
The difference between the two APRs is $91, which means that a cash back credit card may be the better choice for you, especially if you’ve got good credit (700 or above) and you can get the card’s lowest APR.
What’s not included in the interest payment for the cash back card is that, in most cases, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on the $1,000 purchases, which equals out to $15 and adds more value to a cash-back purchase.
So, while a $1,000 purchase on your Target card gets you a $50 discount, the fact that the interest is higher than cash back cards means that you’ll end up paying more interest despite getting a $50 discount.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Target REDcard
The Walmart credit card is a Mastercard that provides a considerable level of perks when compared to the Target credit card. However, just like the Target card, Walmart makes it pretty hard to find the APR and fees you can expect with this card.
Perks of the Walmart Credit Card
At the time of our research, new cardmembers received the following perks:
- $35 credit on a purchase of at least $75 the day you’re approved.
- 6% back on Thanksgiving and Black Friday online shopping.
The cash back you receive goes back to you in the form of a credit in your account; it’s not pure cash back you can use wherever you want.
Cardmembers also get 3% cash back on Walmart purchases including grocery pickup, 2% cash back on Walmart and Murphy USA gas, as well as 1% on purchases at Walmart and anywhere else.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Walmart Credit Card
The Walmart credit card comes with three different APRs based on your creditworthiness. At the time of our research, those three APRs were 18.65%, 21.65%, and 24.65%.
The low-end APR seems pretty attractive compared to Target’s rate, but Walmart’s terms and conditions make it clear that your chances of getting the lower APRs are slim.
Here’s what their fine print says: “Rates will be determined after application review and disclosed to you before purchases or charges on the account are permitted. A limited number of applicants are expected to receive Account Type 1 and 2.”
Late fees on the Walmart credit card are up to $38 if you miss a payment.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Walmart Credit Card
Best Buy is arguably the premier brick-and-mortar retail electronics store in the country. As such, they’ve got a thriving credit-card program that includes multiple cards. You won’t know which card you get until you apply. Your choices are:
- My Best Buy Credit Card Preferred
- My Best Buy Credit Card
- My Best Buy Visa Platinum
- My Best Buy Visa Gold
The card you get depends on your creditworthiness, so don’t automatically assume you’ll get the card you want.
Perks of Best Buy Credit Cards
At the time of publishing, Best Buy credit card members had a choice between getting 5% cash-back rewards on purchases for the life of your card or no interest on purchases for 6-24 months depending on how much you spend and what you buy.
You can’t take the financing option and the 5% rewards; it’s one or the other.
Also, if you’re accepted for the Best Buy Visa, you get 3% back on grocery and furniture purchases through Dec. 31, 3% on gas for a limited time, 2% on dining and 1% on everything else.
Pro tip: The 5% cash back awards are given via rewards certificates you can use for future purchases.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for Best Buy Credit Cards
No matter which card you choose, you’ll pay an APR of 27.24%. The cards do differ in annual fees, though:
- My Best Buy Credit Card (Preferred and normal): None
- My Best Buy Visa Gold: $59
- My Best Buy Visa Platinum: None
All cards have a late payment and a returned payment fees of up to $37.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the My Best Buy Credit Card
Unlike Best Buy’s confusing collection of credit cards, the Bed Bath & Beyond credit card is just one card with one set of perks and fees. It did take us some time to track down certain fees, though, because they weren’t listed on the Bed Bath & Beyond website.
Perks of the Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard
When you sign up for the Bed Bath & Beyond credit card, you get three main benefits: rewards points, 0% APR for 6 or 12 months and a trio of gift certificate offers.
The rewards points bonuses have three tiers:
- 5 points per dollar for purchases at Bed Bath & Beyond stores
- 2 points per dollar for gas and groceries
- 1 point per dollar for everything else
According to the company’s rewards fine print, 1000 points is good for a $10 gift card.
The promotional period you get depends on how much you spend. Purchases of $250–$499.99 get 6 months of 0% APR and purchases of $500 and above get 12 months of no interest.
When you’re approved for the card, then you’ll automatically earn a $25-off-$100 discount. If you can spend $1,000 in the first six months of owning the card, you can earn a$25 gift certificate good for any $100 purchase you spend at Bed Bath & Beyond brands. If you can spend $6,000 in the first six months, you’ll get a $75 gift certificate with no spending requirement.
Pro tip: The Bed Bath & Beyond brand includes buybuy BABY, Cost Plus World Market, Harmon Face Values and Christmas Tree Shops. Any purchases made at those stores will get you 5 points for every dollar you spend.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard
APR for the Bed Bath & Beyond credit card is pretty reasonable compared to Target, Walmart, and Best Buy. If you’re accepted for the card, you’ll be given an APR of either 15.99%, 19.99% or 25.99% depending on your credit scores and history.
Late fees are based on your balance at the time of the late payment and can be as high as $38.
Also, remember that the moment you make a late payment, you lose your 0% APR on purchases and you’ll pay your quoted APR (15.99% - 25.99%) for the entire original balance.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard
Like the previous retailers we’ve listed, Gap offers customers two credit cards: GapCard and Gap Visa. Shoppers can upgrade to Silver status on either card, but more on that in a second.
Perks of the GapCard and Gap Visa Card
When you’re accepted for the GapCard or Gap Visa, you get a 20% off your first purchase and free shipping.
You’ll also receive 10% off purchases made at Gap and Gap Factory stores, their site says.
You’ll also get 5 rewards points for every $1 you spend at Gap stores and online. Gap Visa customers get 1 point for every $1 they spend everywhere else.
Pro tip: You’ll score a $5 coupon every time you rack up 500 points.
Perks of the Gap Silver Card
The Silver version of the GapCard and Gap Visa isn’t based on your creditworthiness. To get upgraded to Silver status, you have to earn at least 5,000 points in a year, make on-time minimum payments once you hit 5,000 points and have an account in good standing.
Once you get Silver status, you’re entitled to the perks listed above, as well as:
- A 20% bonus on your reward points every quarter.
- Free shipping on online orders.
- Free basic alterations on Banana Republic purchases made with your Silver card.
- The ability to choose your own sale day.
We spoke with phone representatives about the choose-your-own-sale-day option, as the Gap website doesn’t say what that sale is. The phone rep told us the sale day entitles you to an additional 15% off purchases.
So, if you use the sale day promo code at a Gap or Gap Outlet brick-and-mortar store, you get 25% off (10% off plus the extra 15% off), whereas online purchases get a 15% off discount.
Pro tip: The Gap brand includes Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta.
APR, Penalties, and Fees for the GapCard and GapCard Visa
No matter which card you are approved for, you won’t pay an annual fee and you’ll have an APR of 26.99%.
The card’s late fees range as high as $38.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Gap Credit Card
Macy’s offers its customers two cards: the Macy’s credit card and the Macy’s American Express. You can sign up for the Macy’s card online, but Macy’s AmEx applications have to be completed in store.
Perks of the Macy’s Credit Card
Once you’re accepted for your Macy’s card, you’ll get three main perks:
- 20% savings on purchases made the day you’re accepted and the following day
- Intermittent 25% coupons you can use any day you want
- 5% back on Macy’s purchases
Your initial 20% discount is capped at $100. In other words, you get a 20% discount on the first eligible $500 you spend.
If you can qualify for the Macy’s American Express card, then you can earn rewards the following way:
- 3% back at restaurants
- 2% back at gas stations and supermarkets
- 1% on everything else
According to Macy’s 1,000 points is equal to a $10 “Star Pass” gift certificate you can use on all merchandise. Interestingly, the card’s fine print points out that you have to opt-in to Macy’s marketing emails to get the $10 Star Passes, which are emailed to you.
Macy’s also notes that your credit card perks get better as you spend more. They have Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers which you can get by spending up to $99 per year (Silver), $500 - $1,199 per year (Gold) or $1,200 or more (Platinum).
Silver gets the random 25% discounts we mentioned earlier. Gold members get free shipping. Platinum members get 5% back in rewards on all Macy’s purchases.
APR, Penalties, and Fees for the Macy’s Credit Card
The Macy’s card has a 27.24% APR and late fees of up to $37, which is similar to what you get with the Bed Bath & Beyond credit card.
Pro tip: Pay your balance in full and you won’t be charged any interest.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Macy’s Credit Card
The Kohl’s credit card has what we think is the most robust perks plan.
Perks of the Kohl’s Credit Card
Kohl’s cardholders get a serious lineup of shopping discounts throughout the year:
- 30% off your first purchase the day you are approved for your Kohl’s card.
- 15% off when your card arrives in the mail.
- 12 special offers sent to you throughout the year.
- Upgrade to 18 special offers a year if you spend $600 over the course of the year.
If you spend a lot of time shopping at Kohl’s we can see how these discounts could really rack up some savings.
Keep in mind that the percentage discounts you get from Kohl’s have restrictions on them. For example, at the time of publishing, the 15%-off promo you get with your card cannot be used on the following items/departments:
- Beauty items
- Gift cards
- Food and drink
- Premium electronics
- Sporting goods
- Premium sunglasses
- Levi’s, Nike, Timberland, Under Armour, Columbia, Converse, Dyson and certain UGG products
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Kohl’s Credit Card
APR is 26.99% and the late fees can be as much as $38, depending on the size of your balance.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Kohl’s Charge Card
Home Depot offers a consumer credit card with straightforward perks and APRs.
Perks of the Home Depot Credit Card
The perks of this card are all about financing. At the time of our research, their financing perks were:
- 6 months of 0% financing on any purchases of $299 or more.
- 12 months of 0% financing for appliance purchases of more than $299.
- $25 discount on a purchase of up to $999, $100 off a purchase of $1,000 or more.
These offers change every couple of weeks so make sure you check up on the latest offers when you sign up for the card. These 0% interest offers are usually department-specific, too.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Home Depot Credit Card
The card has an APR range of 17.99% to 26.99%, which means your percentage will fall somewhere in that range according to your credit history and credit scores.
If you don’t have any late payments in the past couple of years and your credit scores are good (above 750), there’s a chance you’ll get a sub-20% APR.
You’ll pay $25 for your first late payment, and if you pay late again during the next six months, it will cost you $35. If you make it six months without another late payment, you get a clean slate and the $25/$35 cycle starts over.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Home Depot Consumer Credit Card
The Lowe’s credit card offers consumers a wider range of perks choices compared to its competitor, Home Depot.
It has one up-front reward: $25 off your first purchase for purchases of $25 - $500. If your purchase amount is greater than $500, you get the 5% discount we list in the next section.
Perks of the Lowe’s Credit Card
New cardholders get to choose from one of three perks options:
- 5% off every purchase as long as your account is open.
- 6 months of 0% interest on a purchase of $299 and above.
- Long-term, low-interest financing for purchases of $2,000 or more: 36 months at 3.99%, 60 months at 5.99%, 84 months at 7.99%
Remember, you get to choose between the 5% discount on Lowe’s purchases or the 12-month offer for 0% interest. You can’t get both.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Lowe’s Credit Card
The APR on this card is 26.99%, which is the highest of all 10 credit cards we’ve reviewed in this series. Late fees are up to $38 depending on your balance.
» For Further Reading: Our Detailed Review of the Lowe’s Advantage Card
Sears offers its customers two types of cards, the Sears card and the Sears Mastercard. The cards have slightly different perks, but the same APR and late fees. The Sears card can be used at Kmart, too.
Perks of the Sears MasterCard
The Sears MasterCard has an excellent set of cash back rewards rates, but remember, that you can only use those rewards for purchases you make with the card:
- $40 statement credit for $50 of purchases in first 30 days
- 5% rewards at gas stations
- 3% rewards at grocery stores/restaurants
- 2% rewards at Sears and Kmart
- 1% on everything else
The 5%/3%/2%/1% rewards structure is incredible compared to most credit cards but they’re only good for 12 months. After that, you get 1% in rewards points on all purchases.
As for the Shop Your Way program, you’ll find it’s similar to other rewards programs we’ve covered in this series. Your points are turned into dollars that you can use to buy Sears and Kmart products through the Shop Your Way website.
APR, Fees, and Penalties for the Sears Credit Card
Your APR will be 27.24% on all purchases and late fees will be up to $37, depending on your balance.
The 10 store credit cards we listed here are favorites for their up-front bonuses and cash back rates, not to mention they’re issued by some of the most popular retail stores in the country.
In some cases, you’ll have to decide between a consistent discount on purchases or one-time financing and, in other cases, you’ll have the opportunity to use one-time promo codes or discounts on your first purchase.
To make sure you choose the right option, take a moment to weigh the pros and cons of what the offers present. If you have a big project you want to finance, it might make more sense to take a financing offer over an everyday rewards rate.
Researching the fine print may also reveal some exceptions to discounts that may discourage you from getting the card.
In general, our in-depth research of store cards and rewards credit cards tends to indicate that, no matter how good the discounts and offers are from store cards, you’ll usually save more money in interest and earn more in rewards with cash back credit cards.
If you spend $1,000 a year at your favorite store, the Citi Double Cash can get you $20 in cash rewards and a 15.49% APR if you have good credit. If you tend to carry balances, then the Double Cash would be a smart choice over the Kohl’s card, for example, which has a 26.99% APR.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you’ve got multiple choices for store credit cards throughout the year. For clarity’s sake, take a moment to read through our article that poses the question, “Are store credit cards really worth it?"