Credit cards from retail stores: Know the score - Metro US

Credit cards from retail stores: Know the score

Pressure and temptation. It’s Saturday afternoon. The lineup at the department store checkout is long enough to make you think you’re waiting for tickets to a hot rock concert.

Clutching your sale scores — a coffee maker, a set of towels and a pasta machine (you’ll save pennies making penne yourself, right?) — you’re easy pickings for the clerk.

He chirps, “Will that be on your (insert store name) card?” When you say no, he looks at you sadly. “Do you have a (insert store name) card?” At your head shake, the clerk’s sad look becomes mournful.

Now comes the tempting pitch and the pressure to decide as a lengthening lineup snakes down the aisle behind you. You could save 10 per cent on your purchases, on top of the 30 per cent sale price. It just takes a minute and can be done right here at the check-out counter.

The implication is that you’d be a fool not to take advantage of this “one-time offer.” It’s not like you ever have to use the card again.

Hold on a minute. These point-of-sale credit card pitches are incredibly tempting since they offer a quick financial bonus. But take care that you don’t ding your credit score for
the sake of saving $50.

Every time you acquire a new credit card you increase the total credit available to you which means you pose a higher risk to lenders.

Most people who apply for a retail card while making a purchase don’t even know what the credit limit will be. You could be signing up for $10,000 in new credit which might have a negative impact on your score.

A lowered credit score means that the next time you need to re-mortgage, buy a car or take out a line of credit, you might have a difficult time getting approved.

Alison’s Money Rule:

Retail cards can offer a quick financial bonus but take care you don’t ding your credit score when you apply.

– Alison Griffiths is a financial journalist, author and host of Maxed Out on the W Network. Write to her at alison@alisongriffiths.ca.

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