5 Reviews of the Best Retail Store Credit Cards

Retail store cards can be more trouble than they are worth. They benefit the store, not you, as they encourage you to spend money you don’t have on products you don’t need, just so you can accumulate a few points. 

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But it’s not all doom and gloom, because while there are some very low value, high interest rate store cards out there, there are also lots of cards that offer great rates and terms in addition to fantastic reward schemes.

We’ve already looked at general store cards and we have reviewed the best travel cards and cash back cards as well. In this guide, we’ll highlight 5 of the best retail store cards and take a more in-depth look at their perks, rewards, financing options, and more.

What is a Retail Store Card?

A retail store card is like a credit card, in that you use it to make purchases, build a balance, and then pay that balance off at the end of the month. If you don’t pay the balance, it will roll over and you’ll incur interest.

These cards report all activity to the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) just like traditional credit cards, and they can also have annual fees, rewards, and more. However, retail store cards tend to be closed-loop credit cards, which means they can only be used in a specific store or location (department store, grocery store, website).

These cards are offered by many large American retail chains, and they are intended to reward and promote loyalty.

The Best Retail Store Credit Cards

Some of the best “retail” credit cards out there carry the names of big brands like Amazon and Disney. However, these are open-loop cards. 

Not only do they allow you to spend money everywhere credit cards are accepted, but they reward you for doing so. In the list below, we have focused purely on closed-loop retail cards, ones that are restricted to the stores that issue them.

Amazon Prime Store Card

​The Amazon Prime Store Card is just one of several cards offered by this retail giant. Some of these credit cards are branded with the Visa logo and can be used everywhere that a Visa card can. The Amazon Prime Store Card, however, is limited to the Amazon, and you can collect as much as 5% cash back on every dollar that you spend in the store.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Score Required: Fair and Above
  • Financing: 0% APR for Between 6 and 24 Months
  • Rewards Rate: Up to 5% Cash Back at Amazon.com
  • Interest Rate: 27.49% Variable
  • Sign-up Bonus: $10 Amazon Gift Card

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, this isn’t much of a rewards card. And therein lies the only real issue, as Amazon Prime costs $119 a year at the time of writing and that’s greater than the annual fee you’ll pay for some of the very best reward credit cards, including the more premium cards offered by American Express and Mastercard.

Of course, it’s not strictly an annual fee, as you’ll also get all the benefits provided by Amazon Prime, in addition to the cash back rewards. If you can benefit in any way from Amazon Prime, this is definitely a worthwhile card and if you spend a lot of money at Amazon, you will almost certainly benefit from Amazon Prime.

If you can’t get those benefits, then you probably don’t spend a lot of money at Amazon, in which case this card won’t be a good fit.

GAP Store Card

The GAP store card is one of our favorites and there are several reasons for this: You don’t need a high credit score, there are numerous bonuses and offers, and it can be used at GAP stores as well as Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta.

Cardmembers can earn big points when they spend at eligible stores; a 20% discount when first using the card, and a 20% quarterly rewards boost. There are other point boosts and offers as well, including birthday discounts and access to special offers.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Score Required: Fair and Above
  • Financing: N/A
  • Rewards Rate: 5 points per dollar spent at eligible stores
  • Interest Rate: 27.49% Variable APR
  • Sign-up Bonus: Extra points available on account opening

Lowe’s Store Card

You can get 5% cash back on purchases with the Lowe’s store card and there is also an interest-free financing option, whereby you’ll get 0% APR if you clear the balance in full within 6 months (applies to purchases of more than $299).

There is no annual fee to worry about and you only need to have Fair credit to be accepted. Consumers who spend a lot of time and money at Lowe’s will definitely benefit from this retail store card.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Score Required: Fair and Above
  • Financing: 0% to 7.99% for up to 84 months
  • Rewards Rate: 5% cash back
  • Interest Rate: 26.99% Variable APR
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

Kohl’s Store Card

Kohl’s is the largest department store chain in the United States and has one of the more interesting store cards. There is no generous reward scheme here and no enticing financing offers either. But you only need fair credit to apply, there is no annual fee, and new cardholders can get a 35% discount on their purchase.

In place of a rewards program, the Kohl’s retail card offers 12 special offers every year. These offers are basically discounts of up to 35% and they can be used on a host of store purchases. You will also get a coupon for 15% off when you first receive your card.

Not the most generous of credit card offers and it’s a little lacking when compared to other retail credit cards, but for a card that doesn’t demand excellent credit and doesn’t charge an annual fee, you can’t go much wrong.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Score Required: Fair and Above
  • Financing: N/A
  • Rewards Rate: N/A
  • Interest Rate: 26.49% Variable APR
  • Sign-up Bonus: 35% Discount on First Purchase

Fingerhut Store Card

The Fingerhut credit account is a little different from the other retail cards in this guide. It charges a very high regular APR and doesn’t really offer that many benefits or rewards. However, it’s ideal if you need to build credit as it’s offered to users with limited credit histories and reports to all three credit bureaus.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Score Required: Fair and Above
  • Financing: N/A
  • Rewards Rate: N/A
  • Interest Rate:  29.99% Variable APR
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

Other Retail Credit Cards

Your options are somewhat limited when you stick with closed-loop retail cards. However, if you allow for some open-loop Visa, Mastercard, and American Express branded credit cards, you’ll get bigger credit limits, better intro rates, more generous welcome offers, and significantly better rewards.

The Amazon Prime Visa Signature is a great example of this. It takes everything offered by the aforementioned Amazon Prime Store card and adds a whole lot more. 

The Costco Anywhere Visa is another standout rewards card. Offered by Citi, the Costco Rewards Visa gives you up to 4% and can be used on a host of purchases, with discounts and rewards when you spend at Costco and Costco.com, as well as gas stations, restaurants, and more.

The Target credit card and Best Buy credit cards are also well worth a look.

What Should You Look for in a Retail Store Card?

What should you look for in a retail store card, what sets these cards apart from generic reward cards and travel cards, and what should you look for when comparing these cards and looking for the best one?

Interest Rate

The interest rates on store cards are typically very high. This is especially true for closed-loop cards, as even the better ones charge interest rates above 26%. This is a huge sum, but it’s worth noting that you will only pay this is you fail to clear your balance.

Still, it’s worth comparing and contrasting to make sure you get a card with the lowest rate possible.

Annual Fee/Other Fees

Annual fees aren’t all that common with store cards, but they’re not the only fees you have to look out for. You may be charged penalty fees when you miss a payment and you may also be required to pay for membership.

For instance, one of the cards mentioned above, the Amazon Prime Store Card, requires you to be a member of Amazon Prime, which costs $119 a year.

Sign-up Offers

Retail store cards are not as generous with introductory rates as traditional reward cards or balance transfer cards. These 0% APR offers still exist for open-loop cards, but they’re not as big or impressive, and with closed-loop cards they are exchanged for financing programs, which come with their own set of problems.

Financing Options

Retail store cards often provided financing options that encourage you to make large purchases and offer you 0% interest. It’s a “buy now pay later” offer that lures countless consumers every single day, and often leads them on the path to financial destruction.

When given a little time to make a sensible decision, many consumers will turn their backs on a purchase. This is why many car salespersons are told to hook the buyer and make sure they don’t leave the showroom, because they know that if the customer walks away, their chances of securing a sale plummet. 

That consumer will look at the sums, think it over, rationalize it, and realize they can’t afford it. But if they are given the option to buy there and then, even if they don’t have the cash right now, they’ll take it, they’ll complete the purchase, and they’ll suffer the consequences many months down the line.

Financing encourages this kind of reckless spending. What’s more, it often uses something known as deferred interest. This basically means that the interest is deferred for a pre-determined period. But if you fail to make your monthly payment on time, those benefits may disappear, all of that interest will return, and you’ll suddenly find yourself with a huge bill.

Reward Points and Cash Back

The rewards program is the thing that most consumers focus on. This is what defines a store card and by paying close attention to the rewards scheme you can compare the best store credit cards and find the ideal one for you.

Calculate how these rewards will benefit you and make sure those benefits come without requiring significant changes to your spending. For instance, a Prime rewards card is great if you can benefit from having an Amazon Prime account and spend a lot of money at Amazon (or Whole Foods). 

But if it means purchasing a Prime membership and focusing all your time and money on a store you would otherwise avoid, it’s not for you.

Perks and Discounts

Closed-loop credit cards don’t give you the travel protection benefits you’ll get from a Visa Signature Card or the endless credits and birthday gifts you get from the best cash back credit cards. But they do offer a number of cardmember benefits, including gift cards, statement credits, checkout discounts, and more.