Why Store Credit Cards May Help You Save On Holiday Shopping

retail-store-cardCredit cards. I call them “the little plastic devils”. 

I’ve written about them quite a bit. You can really get yourself in a heap of plastic trouble with these things. Plus, shoppers will spend a small fortune on their cards during this holiday shopping season.

I started to think about how you can use them to your advantage. Some of the best offers and deals come from store credit cards. That’s right, not Visa or Master Card, but department stores and chain stores.

Keep in mind that store credit cards have the highest interest rates, upward of 20-24%! Wow! So all of my suggestions are assuming you pay the balance in full (except for the 0% interest rate offers).

So this holiday shopping season here are some reasons for using store credit cards to your advantage:

First, the discounts. Many of these store credit cards offer deep discounts when you initially sign up. Usually 15-20% off sale prices! So the savings can add up. Do what I do. Take the discount and then proceed to wherever you can pay the bill and pay it right away. You leave the store with the discount and zero bill for later. This discount option really makes sense if the item you are buying is expensive. The savings can add up.

Next up, 0% financing offers. I love these offers. It’s a great way to get a large purchase. I recently bought a new refrigerator. During Labor Day the store offered a sale with 24 months interest free. I’ll likely pay it off early, but it gives me the option of spreading it out over time if I need to. Just be careful. Make sure you divide the total purchase by the number of months of zero interest. That way you pay it off in the time allocated, before the interest rate goes to the moon!

Rewards programs. I’ve written about rewards credit cards before. I’m not a big fan. However, you can make these work for you. Many stores currently have rewards programs. They will offer you so much store credit for spending a certain amount. For example, spend $50 and they give you a store credit of $10. Make sure you are reading the fine print on these offers. They can be tricky.

Finally, free stuff. Everybody loves free stuff. I shopped online for Black Friday and got some terrific deals. In fact, it was easier if you know exactly what you want and the size. Many of these stores offered free shipping. Other times the free stuff comes in the form of a coupon or a voucher that will spend like cash in the store. My wife loves to combine these offers. You can really do well if you pay attention and do a little homework.

The bottom line is that you can really achieve some savings by using these store credit cards to your advantage. Just remember to pay off your balance in full. If you don’t, any savings obtained may be negated by the high interest rate on the card. Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays! Oh, if you found my article had some great advice, don’t procrastinate and subscribe here for free!