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.
1. Target Credit Card
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 shipping on most orders from Target.com
- 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 & Penalties for the Target Credit Card
The APR on the Target credit card is a straight 23.90% which, based on our research of more than 30 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 23.90% 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 balance for 11 months:
- $1,000 with the Target card’s 23.90% APR equals about $119 in interest payments over 11 months.
- $1,000 with a regular credit card’s 15.24% APR equals about $78 in interest payments over 11 months.
The difference between the two APRs over 12 months is $41, which isn’t too much if you’re only spending $1,000. But when you add in the $50 discount you earned on the original purchase, the Target store card is actually a smart choice even though it’s got a high APR.
Two other cards we researched have 5% discounts, too:
- Best Buy customers can get 5% cash back in the form of a gift card balance.
- Those with a Lowe’s store card can get 5% off all purchases.
In our opinion, these store cards are worth using because the 5% discount counteracts the high APR. Our best advice, though, is to pay your balance off in full every month so you don’t pay any interest.
As for the Target credit card’s penalties and fees, you can expect to pay up to $38 for a late payment and up to $27 for a returned payment.
2. Walmart Credit Card
The Walmart credit card is a Mastercard that provides a considerable amount 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.com purchases, 2% cash back on Walmart and Murphy USA gas, as well as 1% on purchases at Walmart and anywhere else.
APR, Fees & 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 17.90%, 20.90% and 23. 90%.
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.
3. Best Buy 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 a 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 6-18 months depending on how much you spend.
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 10% off your first purchase with the card, 3% back on gas and groceries through Dec. 31, 2% on dining and 1% on everything else.
You don’t get any rewards points for purchases made at Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club and Amazon.
Pro tip: The 5% cash back awards are given via a rewards certificates you can use for future purchases.
APR, Fees & Penalties for Best Buy Credit Cards
No matter which card you choose, you’ll pay an APR of 26.24%. 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.
4. Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard
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 coupon for $25 off a $100 purchase.
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.
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 & 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 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% depending on your credit scores and history.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s website doesn’t list the fees you pay if you make a late payment. We had to call the company’s credit card line to get this information. They told us that late fees are $27 for the first late payment, and then jump to $37 for subsequent late payments.
Also, remember that the moment you make a late payment, you lose your 0% APR on purchases and you’ll pay your quoted APR (14.99%–24.99%) for the entire original balance.
5. Gap Credit Card
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 & 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 on Tuesdays, a birthday gift, occasional cardmember savings and the luxury of not needing a receipt to make returns.
You’ll also get 5 rewards points for every $1 you spend at Gap stores and online. Gap Visa customers also 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 GapCard & Gap Visa Card Silver
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 10% sale day; you aren’t limited to Tuesday.
Pro tip: The Gap brand includes Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta.
APR, Penalties & 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 25.99%.
Just like Bed Bath & Beyond, Gap doesn’t list their late fees on their website. So, we had to call Gap to get information on late fees. The customer service rep we talked with told us you’ll pay $27 for the first late fee and $37 for every late fee after that.
6. Macy’s 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.
APR, Penalties & Fees for the Macy’s Credit Card
The Macy’s card has a 26.24% 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.
7. Home Depot Credit 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.
- 0% interest on blinds, shades and shutter installations (18-24 months).
- 0% interest on roofing, siding, gutter, and attic insulation installations (up to 24 months).
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 & 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.
We had to call Home Depot’s credit card phone number to find out their late fees, and what we found was pretty interesting.
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.
This structure is different than other cards we’ve reviewed in this series because they usually charge you one fee for the first late payment, then bump up that fee for any subsequent late payments.
8. Lowe’s 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: $30 off your first purchase. Aside from that, you have several options for 0% interest periods.
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 only get to choose one of those offers, so make sure you know what you want before you make your purchase.
APR, Fees & 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 range anywhere from $25 to $37 depending on your balance.
9. The Sears Credit 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:
- $10 off your first purchase
- 5% rewards at gas stations
- 3% rewards at grocery stores/restaurants
- 2% rewards at Sears and Kmart
- 1% on everything else
If you have the Sears Mastercard, you get a $150 statement credit if you can spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of owning the card.
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 & Penalties for the Sears Credit Card
Your APR will be 26.24% on all purchases and late fees will be up to $37, depending on your balance.
10. Kohl’s Credit Card
The Kohl’s credit card is the last one on our list, and it 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.
APR, Fees & Penalties for the Kohl’s Credit Card
APR is 27.99% and the late fees can be between $15 to $37, a Kohl’s customer service representative told us:
- If your balance is less than $15, your late fee is $15.
- If your balance is higher than $15, your late fee is $27.
- If you make two late payments in a row, the second month’s late fee is $37.
Final Thoughts About the Best Store Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping
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.
The key to succeeding with these cards is to pay off your balance every month. APR’s on store cards tend to be far higher than what you’d get with a regular credit card like the Discover it Cash or the Citi Double Cash.
In some cases, the up-front bonuses on store cards make them a better value than other credit cards, particularly because nearly every card on this list doesn’t have an annual fee.
See Also: The Best Cash Back Rewards Card of 2017