Should You Open a Retail Store Credit Card to Save Money on Black Friday?

When done right, you can save some holiday shopping money using a store credit card.

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We all know the offer: Would you like to save 5%, 10% or 20% on today’s purchase with a new credit card?

In some cases, saying yes absolutely makes sense. If you were about to spend $2,000 at Target to get all new furnishing for your new apartment or $1,000 on your family’s major holiday gift run on Black Friday, getting that bonus discount on your first purchase could be a great deal.

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But don’t rush and sign up for a store credit card right away. Retail store cards are known for high-interest rates, low credit limits and incentives designed to get you to spend more money overall. But if you can do it right and avoid financial landmines in the world of store credit cards, you could come out far ahead.

For most people, most store credit cards are a bad deal. But when you find the right card that aligns well with your spending, you could be in for some great savings on Black Friday and all year round.

Here’s how to decide if a store credit card is a good idea and some of the best store cards to consider.

When Store Credit Cards Make Sense

Store credit cards only make sense if you are going to save money using one. If you would wind up spending more than just going shopping with the card you already use for most purchases today, you should probably stick with what you have now.

However, as we discussed above, getting a new credit card in a store can save you a lot of money. I’ve made my fair share of cash back from Amazon’s Visa.  And when I was a regular shopper at Kohl’s, I picked up that card as well. In both of those cases, I knew the card would save me money.

a man chooses a television in a store
Credit: iStock.com /sergeyryzhov

Some cards offer big upfront savings with a discount on your first purchase or on purchases for a short period of time. If you’re going to make a big purchase anyway or have one planned, that is the right time to capitalize on the offer and take home hundreds of dollars in savings. If you’re just going to save a few bucks, skip getting the new card right for now.

The other situation when a store card is a good idea is when you will save money by using it on a regular basis. My Amazon card gives me 5% back on most purchases and even more on occasional buys, like when I bought my expensive podcast microphone with 15% back. If you will get 5% back or more on a regular basis, the card is probably a good deal based on your spending habits.

When to Avoid Store Credit Cards

Store credit cards are not all unicorns and rainbows, however. They are notorious for predatory features that can cause serious damage to your credit score or bank account if you’re not careful.

First, most retail store cards charge very high interest rates. If you are not going to pay off the card in full every month by the due date, you are better off avoiding putting a purchase on a credit card. If you treat your credit card like a debit card and only pay for what you can really afford within your budget, you’ll be in good shape.

This kind of card also comes with a low credit limit in many cases. Your total credit utilization across all cards is a major factor in your credit score. If you have only a few cards and max out a store card, it can sink your credit rating fast.

clothing hangs on a rack in a store
Credit: iStock.com /outline205

If you’re getting a mortgage or car loan soon, think about skipping all new credit applications for six months to a year in advance. New credit applications and accounts can temporarily hurt your credit. This could lead to higher interest rates or getting denied for the loan altogether.

Missed and late payments are the fastest way to ruin your credit for years, so always pay on time. But these cards are often available to people with less than stellar credit, so you may be able to use one responsibly to build your credit too.

The Best Store Credit Cards to Consider

friends shop at a mall
Credit: iStock.com /dm-martin

Amazon Rewards Visa Card

The Amazon Rewards Visa card is issued by Chase and comes in two different versions. If you are not a Prime member, you get 3% back at Amazon and Whole Foods. With Prime, you’re upgraded to the Amazon Prime Rewards card with 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods. Both include 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores and 1% back everywhere else. It has no annual fee.

Learn More About the Amazon Rewards Visa

Costco Anywhere Visa

You get great rewards on a range of purchases with the Costco Anywhere Visa. Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases worldwide your first year (up to $7,000 annually). You get 3% back on restaurant and most travel purchases, 2% back at Costco and Costco.com, and 1% everywhere else. You have to be a Costco member to get this card, but it has no annual fee.

Learn More About the Costco Anywhere Visa

Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard

The newly refreshed Capital One Walmart Mastercard gives you 5% back at Walmart for your first year when you pay with Walmart Pay. You get 5% when you use the card at Walmart.com, the Walmart app and Walmart’s grocery pickup and delivery service. You get 2% back on other purchases at Walmart and at Murphy USA Fuel Stations, plus restaurant and travel purchases. You get 1% back everywhere else. This card has no annual fee.

Learn More About the Walmart Rewards Mastercard

Target RedCard

The Target RedCard features 5% back at Target and Target.com for most purchases. It also gives you an upgrade to free two-day shipping on many purchases, an extended 30-day return and exchange window and other perks.

Learn More About the Target RedCard

Skip the Store Card Entirely

Of course, you don’t have to use a store credit card when you go to the store. Top credit cards for shopping any time include Chase Freedom for 5% back on rotating bonus categories, Chase Freedom Unlimited for an unlimited 1.5% cash back or the PayPal Mastercard for an unlimited 2% cash back. For travel rewards, Venture from Capital One is a great choice for your shopping trips with an unlimited 2x points per dollar on every purchase.

Learn More About the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Be Smart with Your Credit and Your Credit Cards

When used well, credit cards are a gateway to cash back and travel rewards from purchases you would already make. But if you use them as an excuse to spend more or get stuck in a trap of high interest rates, you’re better off with cash or debit.

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For most people, most store credit cards are a bad deal. But when you find the right card that aligns well with your spending, you could be in for some great savings on Black Friday and all year round.

Comparing Credit Cards

Still uncertain about which card is right for you? We get it. Choosing a credit card that meets your needs is important, which is why Slickdeals’ Credit Card Hub helps you compare the benefits of different cards, search credit cards by rewards categories, and explore cards by their issuers — all to find the best fit for your wallet.

Compare Cards Today

NEXT: These Credit Cards Get Even Better Deals on Black Friday

We want to make sure you get the best deal! Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply. Also, please remember this content wasn’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any company mentioned in this article.

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full-time. He has in depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, business, and other financial topics. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world and spending time with his wife and little girls. You can connect with him at Personal Profitability or EricRosenberg.com.

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