The credit card offers are endless when you're out shopping. Every store wants you to have their card, but are you really saving money? Here are a few pros and cons of opening a card with a department or retail store.
PRO: Sign Up Discount
This is how they hook you... right? 20% off... 30% off... 50% off... free socks.
It's easy to fall into the instant gratification of the money you would save on your first purchase, but be sure to weigh in all the factors when signing up for any credit card offer.
CON: High Interest
Always check the interest before opening any credit card account. Despite the recent decrease in rates, a survey by creditcards.com found that the average APR on store specific credit cards rose to 27.52%.
PRO: Birthday Discounts, Holiday Discounts, Rewards and the Kitchen Sink
One benefit of a store credit card is additional discounts throughout the year, but how much are you benefiting from these savings?
The average shopper tends to pay their balances off over time. Carrying a balance means that you're paying interest monthly. When looking at the savings and discounts you earn from having a department store credit card, don't forget to add in the interest that you pay monthly into the equation.
If your interest is higher than what you earn with your coupons, you're only whittling away at the savings that you're potentially earning from having that credit card.
CON: How it Affects your Credit Score
An important factor in the calculation of your credit score is your credit card utilization. Credit card utilization is the amount you have borrowed compared to your credit limits. A healthy credit card utilization percentage is 30% of your total credit limit.
Many store cards start you off with a low credit limit, which causes your utilization percentage on that card to go up quickly. If you have a retail credit card with a $500 balance and buy a new television for $300, you've already used 60% of your utilization on that credit card. Click here for more info on credit card utilization.