Best Store Credit Cards of 2018

Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

If you just love to shop certain stores, having a store-branded credit card can be a boon for earning rewards or coupons that you can use towards future purchases. Not only that, but a store credit card can be a good way to build up your credit score, since they are sometimes easier to qualify for than other rewards credit cards.

Credit Sesame has taken on the task of pinning down the best store credit cards of 2016. We’ve organized them by category and here’s a quick snapshot of which ones emerged as the cream of the crop:

  • Best for fast shipping: Amazon Prime Store Card
  • Best for everyday items: Target REDcard
  • Best for clothing: Gap Credit Card
  • Best for home improvement: Lowe’s Advantage Card
  • Best for discounts: TJX Rewards Credit Card

Store card details can be hard to decipher. We’ve broken down the finer points of each card in more detail for you and we’ve also included some helpful tips on how to choose a store credit card. Dive in with us to learn more about which store cards are the best of the best for loyal shoppers.

Card features (terms and restrictions apply)Amazon Prime Store CardTarget REDcardGap Credit CardLowe’s Advantage CardTJX Rewards Credit Card
Annual feeNone; $99 Amazon Prime membership fee appliesNoneNoneNoneNone
Rewards programEarn 5% back on Amazon.com purchases OR take advantage of special promotional financingEarn 5% off when you shop Target stores or Target.comEarn 5 points per $1 on Gap and partner brand purchases in-store or online; Earn 1 point per $1 anywhere Visa® is accepted with the Gap Visa® card. Earn $5 reward for every 500 points you earn with your Gap Credit Card.Earn 5% off on eligible purchases OR take advantage of special promotional financingEarn 5 points per $1 on purchases at TJX brands
Other card perksPrime members get free 2-day shipping on eligible Amazon.com purchasesEnjoy free standard shipping on eligible purchases when you shop Target.comSave 20% and enjoy free shipping on the first purchase you make with your card (within 30 days)Save 10% off your first in-store purchase at TJX brands
We think it's good for:Someone who wants to take advantage of fast, free shipping and earn rewards on Amazon.com purchasesSomeone who wants a 5% discount on everyday purchases at Target and free shipping at Target.comSomeone who spends the bulk of their clothing budget at Gap or its partner brandsSomeone who wants to earn discounts or save on interest when making home improvement purchases at Lowe'sSomeone who frequently shops TJX brands for clothing, shoes or homegoods
Someone who wants to make a large purchase and pay over timeSomeone looking for a chip-and-PIN MasterCard®
We think these folks should keep looking:Someone who doesn't want to pay the $99 annual fee for Amazon Prime membershipSomeone who does the bulk of their everyday shopping at other storesSomeone who regularly carries a balance on their credit cardsSomeone who's not able to pay off their balance before the promotional financing period endsSomeone who'd rather have their rewards applied as a statement credit
Someone who isn't certain that they can pay off the balance by the end of the special financing periodSomeone who carries a balanceSomeone who wants more reward redemption options

Best for fast shipping: Amazon Prime Store Card

Amazon.com is a one-stop-shop for just about anything you want to buy, whether that’s books, electronics, toys, housewares or nearly anything else you can think of. The Amazon Prime Store card is a go-to choice if you want to earn rewards on your purchases and get your items delivered quickly.

What makes this card a standout

The Amazon Prime Store card has a major selling points. It’s the rewards program. With this card, you can earn 5% back on purchases made at Amazon.com. Rewards are applied directly to your balance so that’s the same as getting $5 off on every $100 you spend.

Note that rewards are not earned on card purchases made from other merchants, including those who have enabled the Amazon Prime Store card as a payment option using Pay with Amazon.

The Amazon Prime card also gives you the option to choose from a list of promotional financing offers in lieu of earning 5% back. That can come in handy if you’re planning on buying something big and you need time to pay it off but you don’t want to get stuck paying big bucks in interest. Visit amazon.com to learn more about the Amazon Prime Store card promotional financing offers and additional information.

amazon2

A few other details you should know about the promotional financing offers: the offers apply to Amazon.com purchases and Pay with Amazon orders at eligible merchants. Subscribe-and-save purchases are not eligible for special financing. Amazon Prime Store card promotional financing offers are deferred interest offers. That means if you don’t pay off the promotional balance by the due date, you can be charged interest on the full purchase amount from the transaction date. Depending on the purchase amount, the minimum required monthly payment may not be enough to pay off the balance by the end of the promotional period, so watch the calendar and your balance closely if you take advantage of one of these offers.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

The Amazon Prime Store card doesn’t have an annual fee but you have to be a Prime member to qualify, at a cost of $99 per year. If you don’t shop Amazon.com all that often, you may not get much mileage out of the card. Besides that, the variable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases is on the high side at 27.24% which diminishes the value of your rewards if you carry a balance.

The Amazon Prime Store card may not be used to purchase Prime memberships, digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions, or games and software downloads on Amazon.com.

Best for everyday items: Target REDcard

TargetredcardWhether you need to stock up on cleaning items, pick up a few groceries or you want to snag some cute home décor, the Target REDcard saves you money on everything you buy. Best of all, this card has no annual fee.

What makes this card a standout

Instead of letting you earn rewards that you apply to a future purchase, the Target REDcard offers you a 5% discount every time you shop at Target stores or Target.com. The discount applies whether you’re shopping in-store or online. As an added bonus, you also get free standard shipping on most items when you use your REDcard at Target.com for your purchases.

This card can be used for just about any everyday purchase, including personal care items, clothing, furniture, lawn and garden supplies or back-to-school shopping. If you spend a lot of time in Target, shopping with this card in hand is a no-brainer.

Certain categories of purchases don’t qualify for the 5% back, including prescriptions, eye exams, gift cards, gift wrap, certain restaurants in Target stores and a few others.

The REDcard also offers an extended return policy.

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The REDcard is offered as a debit or a credit card. The credit card version of the REDcard is currently issued as a Mastercard® with chip-and-PIN technology. According to the Target.com website Target Mastercard® not available to new applicants (as of January 26, 2018).

Why you may want to look elsewhere

The Target REDcard has one significant drawback and that’s the variable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases, currently set at 23.90%. That’s high. Target doesn’t offer any kind of promotional financing offers, so if you carry a balance from month to month, the interest charges can quickly overcome the 5% savings you gain with the card and you can pay a lot more overall for your purchases.

Best for clothing: The Gap Credit Card

gapstore

Gap is a great place to shop for the whole family, and this card rewards you for doing so. You’re not limited to using it only at Gap, either. You can also use this card to earn rewards when you shop at Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta.

What makes this card a standout

The Gap Credit Card puts money in your pocket right away, by offering 20% off your first purchase (within 30 days of account opening).

Each time you shop at Gap or one of the Gap brands mentioned earlier, you can earn 5 points for every $1 you spend on their brands, in-store or online. For every 500 points you earn on your Gap Credit Card, you can receive a $5 reward good towards a future purchase.

If you decide to get the Gap Visa®, you’ll still earn 5 points per dollar you spend on their brands at Gap and its associated brands and you can also get one point per dollar everywhere Visa® is accepted. Earn 5,000 points in a calendar year and you can be upgraded to Gap Silver status, which includes benefits like a 20% quarterly bonus rewards points and free online shipping with no minimum purchase with code MYCARD.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

The biggest downside of the Gap Credit Card or the Gap Visa® Card is the fact that points are only redeemable toward Gap purchases. With a traditional Visa® rewards card, you might be able to earn points or miles towards travel or cash back in addition to merchandise and other options. Also, the variable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases of 25.99% is high, as it is on most store cards, so don’t carry a balance or you’ll quickly negate your rewards.

Best for home improvement: Lowe’s Advantage Card

Home improvement projects can cost major cash. The Lowe’s Advantage Card gets the thumbs-up if you need to replace your appliances, build a deck or tackle any other big project and earn rewards or take advantage of 0% financing.

What makes the card a standout

The Lowe’s Advantage Card is similar to the Amazon Prime Store card. You can choose between 5% off eligible purchases or one of the promotional financing offers. You won’t pay an annual fee either way.

When it comes to Lowe’s Advantage Card promotional financing offers, be sure to pay off the purchase within that time frame or you can be hit with interest from the date of the transaction. If you need time to pay off a small purchase or a large one while minimizing interest charges, Lowe’s Advantage Card could be a great fit.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

You can only use the card for purchases made at Lowe’s. That’s a problem if you want to buy brand-names that are exclusive to Lowe’s competitors, like Home Depot. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases also doesn’t come cheap it’s currently 26.99% for new accounts so you might want to steer clear if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off a balance before the promotional financing term expires.

Best for discounts: TJX Rewards Credit Card

tjxcreditcards2The TJX Rewards Credit Card can be useful if you frequently shop at TJX brands and you want to get discounts on future purchases. TJX brands include T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and HomeGoods.

What makes this card a standout

The TJX card comes as either a store card or a Mastercard®. With either card, you can earn 5 points for every $1 spent at T.J. Maxx, tjmaxx.com, Marshall’s, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post. On the TJX Rewards® Platinum® Mastercard®, you can also earn 1 point per $1 spent on purchases anywhere Mastercard® is accepted.

You can earn $10 in rewards for every $200 you spend at any TJX family of stores. You can also get 10% off your first in-store purchase.

There’s no cap on the number of points you can earn and no annual fee. Cardholders can get benefits like free giveaways, exclusive event invitations and more. Visit the TJXrewards.com for additional information.

Why you should look elsewhere

Even though you can use the TJX Rewards® Platinum® Mastercard® anywhere, you’re really going to get the most bang for your buck if you use the card at the TJX family of stores. These stores mostly feature items for the home, clothing and shoes so if you don’t spend a lot on those kinds of things, a general rewards credit card may serve you better.

This card also has the highest interest rate of the store cards we looked the variable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases is currently 27.99%, so carrying a balance could wipe out any rewards you earn.

Choosing a store credit card

choosingstorecard

Store credit cards can prove valuable but only if you pick the right one and use it wisely. Before you open up a new store account, here are a few things to consider first:

  • How often will you use the card? The more you spend with a store credit, the more rewards you stand to earn. It’s easy to be persuaded to sign up for a card if you’re getting a nice discount upfront on your first purchase but the card may not be useful if you don’t shop at that particular store often. Since every new application for credit knocks a few points off your credit score, you need to be sure you’re going to get your money’s worth out of any store card you sign up for.
  • Will you be able to pay in full each month? One of the things that store credit cards are notorious for is having purchase APRs that are higher than what most regular credit cards charge. It’s usually easier to get approved for one of these cards if you have a lower credit score but the trade-off is that you’ll pay more in interest. If you don’t think you can pay in full every month to avoid the interest charges, you might want to think twice about opening a store account.
  • Do you want more flexibility in how you earn or redeem rewards? While store credit cards can help you rack up some generous rewards, you don’t have much leeway in how you can put them to work. Amazon applies your rewards to your statement balance but with the Gap Credit Card or the TJX Rewards credit card, you get the savings on money you’ll spend in the future, not purchases you’ve already made. If you don’t like being locked in with regard to earning or using rewards, we suggest taking a look at some of the other general rewards cards available in our credit card marketplace.

Disclaimer: All the information about the Amazon Prime Store Card, Target REDcard, Gap Credit Card, Lowe’s Advantage Card and TJX Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditSesame.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards. The Amazon Prime Store Card, Target REDcard, Gap Credit Card, Lowe’s Advantage Card and TJX Rewards Credit Card cards are not available through CreditSesame.com.

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Published October 25, 2016
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