If you have a limited credit history or a less-than-stellar credit score, getting a traditional credit card can be difficult. Building your credit can take time. If you’re ready to step up from secured credit cards, a store credit card can be a smart option if used responsibly.
Retail credit cards typically have less rigorous approval standards, so you’re more likely to get approved and, some offer valuable rewards programs. Whether you’re looking for cash back rewards or significant signup bonuses, here are the top five picks for you.
1. Sam’s Club Mastercard
If you’re looking for a basic card for to earn cash back rewards on routine purchases like gas, check out the Sam’s Club Mastercard. You can earn up to 5% cash back at Sam’s Club gas stations and 1% on all other purchases.
Although there is no annual fee, you do need a Sam’s Club membership, which costs about $45 per year. Also, keep in mind that your rewards can only be cashed at Sam’s Club, limiting their value. With an APR as high as 19.65%, try to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid costly interest charges.
2. Costco Anywhere Visa® Credit Card by Citi
As one of the more powerful store cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Credit Card by Citi allows you to earn rewards on purchases outside of Costco. Earn 4% cash back on gas purchases and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year then 1% thereafter, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com, and 1% on all other purchases.
However, you can only redeem your cash back rewards once a year as a certificate, and it must be redeemed at Costco. You do need a Costco membership to have the card, which costs $60 per year.
3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
If you’re a frequent Amazon Prime user, the Amazon prime Rewards Visa Signature Card can help you maximize the value of your membership. You can earn up to 5% cash back on all Amazon.com purchases, and redeem those rewards at checkout for future transactions. Plus, when you sign up, you’ll get a $70 account credit as an introductory offer.
You do need an Amazon prime membership, which costs $119 per year. The APR can be as high as 23.24%, so it’s a good idea to keep your balance as low as possible.
4. Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard
The Bed Bath & Beyond Mastercard offers unique rewards to frequent shoppers. If you shop at Bed Bath & Beyond, Christmas Tree Shoppes, Cost Plus World Market, Harmon Face Values, or buybuy Baby, you can earn up to 5% cash back on your purchases. Plus, you can earn 2% cash back on gas and groceries, a 1% on all other purchases. However, cash back rewards can only be redeemed at Bed Bath & Beyond brand stores.
One of the best perks is the zero-interest offers you can use. You’ll pay no interest on purchases of $250 to $500 if you pay them off in full in six months. For purchases over $500, you have 12 months to pay it off in full at zero-interest. However, if you don’t pay the balance off in full within the promotional period, you will be responsible for deferred interest charges.
5. BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard
If you’re a BJ’s club member, you can save a significant amount of money on everyday purchases with the BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard. You can save up to $0.10 a gallon on gas at BJ’s gas stations, and earn up to 5% cash back on BJ’s purchases.
However, keep track of your rewards. Your rewards certificates expire six months after they’re issued, and can only be used at BJ’s. Also keep in mind that you’ll need to pay an annual membership fee of $100 to be a BJ’s member.
The BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard also has the highest APR on the list, with rates as high as 25.99%.
Are they right for you?
Although store cards can be a good option for those looking to build their credit histories, they’re not for everyone. Retail cards have limited reward options, and typically can only be redeemed at the store. Plus, you might have to pay high annual fees or membership dues in order to have the card at all.
If your credit is good to excellent, there are better reward credit card options out there like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. You can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. Enjoy unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This card offers 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on new purchases and balance transfers. After that 15-month period expires, a variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99% applies.
Even better, Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back. There’s no membership or annual fees. You can apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card online.
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