Why You Should Avoid Store Credit Cards This Holiday Season

Can you believe it’s already November? Before you know it – the holidays will be upon us. As you start making those lists and checking them twice, think long and hard about opening a store credit card if you were planning to this holiday season.

A recent report from LendingTree® announced that 44% of consumers planned to open a store credit card this year. However, that same report said that 56% of those who have had store credit cards in the past have regretted opening and using them. Sure, the initial sign-up bonuses can be great – but if you carry a balance on one of these cards, the interest you pay with those high APRs can easily exceed what you saved with that initial discount.

While the salesperson may do a great job of talking about the perks and discounts you can get when you sign up for a store card, they almost never talk about the high interest rates you’ll have when you use it. In fact, the average APR for a new store credit card is 24.24%!

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of a store credit card:

  • Beware of deferred interest: While special financing deals really can save you big bucks, it’s crucial that you play by the rules – because what you don’t know can really cost you down the road.
  • Know your APR and fees before you apply: This is good advice with any credit card, but it’s particularly important with store cards because the interest rates are so high – and the pressure is often on to make a quick decision.
  • Anticipate deadlines, exceptions, and spending minimums:  Virtually every card has quirks and nuances. The more you know about them before you apply, the better.
  • Look for the other logo: Some store credit cards can only be used with one retailer or one group of retailers. Others can be used almost anywhere and will have a Visa or Mastercard logo on it. That’s an important distinction.
  • Resist the pressure: If you’re offered a store card and you aren’t sure what to do, say no and then read up on the card later. If the offer still sounds good to you and you know you won’t carry a balance, apply the next time you shop there.

Another idea: Bypass the store credit card and seek lower interest alternatives from First Financial. We offer personal loans to help you get through the holiday season, and low interest credit card options too.* While you won’t get 20% off your first purchase at your favorite store – you also won’t be counted in the 59% of those with buyer’s remorse who are paying off holiday debt well into the new year, after opening that store credit card. You’ll also enjoy a much lower interest rate, which equals lower monthly payments as well. Shop smarter this holiday season!

*Credit Card APR varies up to 18% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fees. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Credit Card or a Personal Loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.



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