Should I Open an In-Store Credit Card?

It seems like every time you check-out at the register of a store you are asked if you’re interested in signing up for the in-store credit card. It is time to say yes?

I’ve been dying to write this post for awhile. Mostly because I am curious if it makes sense to sign-up for one of those in-store credit cards and have been meaning to do the research. At the time of writing this, I have zero bias on in-store credit card and am looking to better understand the benefits of these cards to see if they are worth the hype.

Comparing Cards

The number of in-store credit cards out there is endless. Research on each and everyone of these cards could span a handful of blog posts and send me on a wild goose chase that would take me away from writing on more meaningful topics. Instead, I am going to focus my research on a handful of in-store credit card offers that I have been offered in the past for stores that I shop at regularly.

There are some websites that are solely dedicated to evaluating credit cards and sharing this information with consumers. If you are interested in researching credit cards offered by the major banks and credit card providers, these websites are for you.

To come up with my list of cards to evaluate, I decided to focus on the places I do the majority of my clothing shopping. Over the years I have begun to question if I am missing out by not having the in-store credit card and taking advantage of the extra savings.

Let’s take a look at the benefits for the following in-store credit cards; Gap Family brands, Ann, Inc. and Nordstrom.

1. Gap Family Brands – Visa Credit Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 20% off purchase at sign-up

On-Going Offers: 5 points for every $1 spent on qualifying purchases, bonus days and exclusive offers. One point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Average Exclusive Offer Discount: 10-15%

Qualifying Purchases: Purchases made at any Gap Family Brand location (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta)

Point System: 500 points = $5 Reward or $100 dollars spent = $5 reward. Equivalent to 5% cash back on in-store purchases.

Interest Rates: varies but around 28.24% APR

2. Ann, Inc. – ALL Rewards Credit Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 15% off purchase at sign-up

On-Going Offers: 5 points per every $1 spent on qualifying purchases, bonus days and exclusive offers. Click here for the full list of credit card benefits.

Average Exclusive Offer Discount: 10-15%

Qualifying Purchases: purchases made at any Ann, INC. store (Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Outlet stores).

Points System: 500 points = $5 Reward or $100 dollars spent = $5 reward. Equivalent to 5% cash back on in-store purchases.

Interest Rates: not available online

3. Nordstrom – The Nordy Club Credit Card

Sign-Up Bonus: $40 Nordstrom Note if purchase is made at sign-up

On-Going Offers: 3 points per every $1 spent on qualifying purchases, bonus days and exclusive offers. Click here for the full list of credit card benefits

Qualifying Purchases: purchases made at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, HauteLook or Trunk Club.

Point System: 500 points = $5 Reward or $167 dollars spent = $5 reward. Equivalent to 3% cash back on in-store purchases.

Interest Rates: 12.40% to 24.40% APY

This wouldn’t be a super helpful article if I didn’t compare these in store credit cards to a more traditional credit card offered by the big banks. Because I hail from Chicago, the land of JP Morgan Chase, I thought I would compare these cards to their ever popular Chase Freedom Card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 on purchases in first three months.

On-Going Offers: 1.5% unlimited cashback on every purchase

Qualifying Purchases: purchases made at any vendor that accepts Visa

Point System: No point system, $1.50 cashback on every $100 spent

Interest Rates: 16.49% – 25.24% APR after initial 0% APR 15 month introduction period

Doing the Math

The number I am looking for is how much could I really save by opening an in-store credit card and using it exclusively for my clothing purchases at that store. For purposes of this exercise, I am making a few assumptions. The first assumptions is that I will spend $200 a month on clothing (my actual monthly budget) and that these credit cards will be used solely for in-store clothing purchases.

The results are in.

Sorry this is hard to read! Zoom in if needed.

The numbers tell an interesting story.

First, the Nordstrom card’s monetary benefits don’t hold up well against the Ann, Inc. and Gap Brands credit cards. Folks that have a Nordstrom’s card likely place a higher value on the non-monetary benefits like early access to the anniversary sales and exclusive events.

A second interesting conclusion from this hypothetical projection is that being loyal to either Gap Family Brands or Ann, Inc. for all your clothing needs, they would compensate you with $240 in exclusive discounts over the course of the year plus $105 in cash rewards. Simply put, at at spend rate of $2,400 per year the company will put $345 in your pocket every year to shop exclusively within their brands.

Before running out to the store to open a card, here are a few pros and cons of in-store credit cards to consider.

Pros

  • Save hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Transparency on clothing spending. Monthly statement = monthly spending.

Cons

  • “Forced” to shop within same store or brands.
  • Bonus points can only be used for brand purchases.
  • Could shift focus on shopping around sales or bonus point days not around needs.
  • Spend more, save more mentality.
  • Multiple credit cards and billing dates to track.
  • Opening new lines of credit could pull down credit score.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad I finally found the time to complete this credit card research project. To be totally candid, my husband and I opened up a Nordstrom card a few years ago and I am super disappointed on how their benefits stack up to other store offers. We don’t use the card for purchases beyond the anniversary sale and my husband’s annual shoe splurge, but I wish I had done this research sooner.

As for the other two in-store credit cards, I am stumped and am not sure how to act, if to act on this information. The majority of my professional work wear does come from Ann Taylor or LOFT so it could make sense to apply for the ALL Rewards credit card and begin benefiting from the additional discounts and bonus days. The allure of an extra $345 to put towards my clothing budget would be fantastic but in a way it still encourages spending more to save more which is not a mindset I agree with.

As of now I am not going to purse this card but will report back if things change. Would love to hear what you think of in-store credit cards and if you’ve benefited from having an account.

Happy Shopping!

One thought on “Should I Open an In-Store Credit Card?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s