Is your store-branded credit card worth the hassle?

By Stew

I have made no secret of the fact that we use credit cards here at the Stew household. “We” as in, my wife and I – our children do not currently carry plastic, although my seven-year old told me to “just put it on the card” the other day.

She and I might need to have a talk.

Years ago, before I really knew what a credit score was worth, my wife and I would often sign up for store-branded credit cards in order to get the various incentives that come with getting a card: $50 bonus or 20% of a purchase or any number of things.

I have since come to understand that the credit score hit or “hard pull” that comes with such applications really is not worth the benefit. I still have most my store-branded credit cards and try to keep the lines of credit open because it is good for one’s credit score, but I never use my Best Buy, Kwik Trip, Kohl’s, Sears, Menards or Old Navy store branded cards. I try to find the best rewards card possible and use that for every credit card purchase. It makes paying off the balance every month a simple task and so far this year, we have earned two free flights. One of which my wife used about a month ago.

The incentives do not stop with sign-up premiums. Store-branded credit lines always push all kinds of ongoing incentives to use the card. I seem to get flyers or marketing letters every week from businesses trying to get me to use their card – even though it has been five years or more since I used that particular card. Some of the deals sound decent, but I never participate for several reasons:

  1. I never carry the cards. I really like to keep my billfold as thin as possible – some might call me “obsessive compulsive about the thickness of my wallet.
  2. I do not want to pay another bill every month, we have enough.
  3. I usually do not have an absolute need to make a purchase in that particular store. It is great that I can get jeans for %25 off at The Gap next week if I use my Gap credit card, but chances are, I do not need the jeans. If I never got the marketing information, I would never be aware of my lack of those particular pants and the flyers never seem to arrive when I really need jeans.

On the other hand, Mrs. Stew uses store-branded credit cards. She oversees a portion of our budget that includes most clothing purchases and will use her Kohl’s charge or Old Navy card from time to time in order to take advantage of whatever deal is being offered that week. We will never apply for another store-branded card, but she still uses a few of the ones that we opened several years ago.

I have to admit that sometimes she does get really good deals and as long as she pays off the balance on time every month and does not go over budget, I guess it is okay. I just do not have the patience to keep track of all that stuff.

Do you use store-branded plastic?

Article by Stew

Photo by stevendepolo

5 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Is your store-branded credit card worth the hassle?”

  1. Skeemer118 Says:

    No store cards or major cards in our household. We had them & they didn’t work for us. I got tired of the bills coming in for things we had been using for months. It’s debit card or cash for us.

    Disclaimer: Not saying credit cards are bad for everyone, just not for our family. We want to stay as debt free & worry free as possible! :)

  2. Gina Says:

    I got rid of all my store credit cards back in 1995. That year someone walked into a JCPenny, asked for a “temp” card and purchased $2700 worth of “stuff” at a store in AZ – I live in GA – using my credit card number. The only way I knew was that JCP sent me a letter “welcoming” me to my new state. I cancelled the card, filed all the paperwork to report it stolen and they issued me a new card. About a month later I shut down all my store credit cards b/c all of them had a “temp” card policy {you show up at the store, forget your card, they issue you a temp so you can shop that day}.

    At the moment we have 2 bank credit cards that earn rewards but we do not use them. We use a debit card or cash these days b/c we are eliminating all of our debt. Once they are paid off we will close them. My goal is a ZERO Fico score!

  3. JDoss Says:

    Only if I get significant discounts at the store for using it, and I have the means to pay off the balance in its entirety each month. Otherwise, they are not worth it.

  4. Carrie Says:

    I agree with the thing that if there are some discounts on such store branded credit card then they are really worth.

  5. [email protected] Says:

    I have tracked and noticed for me store branded credit card did not work.
    Well to use one particular card with good discounts and low interests rates is what I normally prefer.