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Rebuild Your Credit with a Retail Store Credit Card

Written by Rebecca Lake

There are plenty of things that can tank your credit score. Making late payments, losing a home to foreclosure or having to file bankruptcy can all cause serious damage to your credit that can take years to recover from.

One way to get your credit score back on track fairly quickly is to open a credit card account. If you’re keeping the balance on the card low and making your payments faithfully on time each month, that could help your score to start moving in the right direction.

The trouble is, when you have bad credit because of a major delinquency or bankruptcy, getting a credit card may be easier said than done. Getting a secured credit card is one option but there’s a catch. Secured cards require you to pony up some cash for a deposit, which doubles as your credit limit.

If you don’t have any extra money to spare for a secured card, a retail store credit card is an alternative to consider. Retail store cards can give you an opportunity to build a positive payment history but there are some potential downsides to keep in mind.

How a retail store card can help rebuild credit

Generally, retail store credit cards work the same as any other credit card with one key difference: you can only use them to make purchases at the store they’re affiliated with. There’s an exception of course, if the card has a Visa or MasterCard logo. In that scenario, you could use your card at any merchant in the Visa or MasterCard network.

For example, Amazon offers the Amazon Store Card, which can be used for purchases at Amazon.com, as well as the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, which is issued by Chase. Both cards let you earn rewards when you shop Amazon but the Visa Signature Card expands your purchasing power so you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted.

As far as how you can use a retail store card to rebuild credit, it’s really fairly simple. The most important things to remember are to maintain a low balance and pay on time. Those two factors have the most influence when it comes to how your credit score is calculated. Retail store cards are reported on your credit history just like a traditional credit card would be so as long as you’re using it responsibly, it could be a useful way to raise your credit score.

What are the benefits of using a retail store credit card?

Retail store cards aren’t all alike and some offer more advantages than others. Instead of offering an introductory points or cash back bonus like a regular credit card, you may get a discount of 10% to 15% off your first purchase just for signing up. Many retail cards also come with a built-in rewards program. For example, the Best Buy Credit Card offers 5% back in rewards on Best Buy purchases, in-store and online. Alternately, the card gives you the option of taking advantage of special promotional financing terms in lieu of the rewards.

About the author

Rebecca Lake

Rebecca Lake is a personal finance writer and blogger specializing in topics related to mortgages, retirement and business credit. Her work has appeared in a variety of outlets around the web, including Smart Asset and Money Crashers. You can find her on Twitter at @seemomwrite or her website, RebeccaLake.net.

15 Comments

  • Very interesting no feel if you are a. Nonwhite applicant credit accepted has been a problem trying yo are hain my verify score zzYhsk I will try it and let you know si have been approved. Thanks.

  • You mention it is easier to get credit cards from the retailer who offers them. If you have a poor credit rating, the chances are nil to a possibility of having the merchant will approve it. I gather the merchant will still check your credit as they don’t want people with poor credit. Most always, these stores will have it either as a Mastercard or VISA. Very rarely will you find a store having their own credit as in the past. I remember in earlier times, stores like Sears, Buffums, Mongomery Wards, May Co. and the like started out with their own credit. I bet it is a rarity to get cards like that now, them carrying their own credit.

  • Leland Waterman you are grossly incorrect as Obama wasn’t even in office in 2008 when you chose to retire. Take responsibility for your own failure(s) and stop blaming others …..

  • Good info BUT if you’ve already got a low credit score you won’t be able to get a retail card either unless they don’t run a credit check. I’m betting they will.

    • You’re right it is a hard inquiry and they will say too many inquires if you apply for just 2 or 3 different cards!!!

  • My name is Terry I don’t quite understand how you working it but I’m really interested in finding out please give me more information on it thank you

  • The Obama Administration has made it very difficult for my business to survive because I have been in the energy industry and the construction industry for over 35-years.Therefore, I chose to retire in 2008 until the next administration could design new policies to strengthen our national economy. Its better to quit than to go bankrupt trying to do the impossible. Therefore, I do not pay bills where I receive less than satisfactory performance.

    • How do you blame Obama for you not paying your bills? If you created a construction company, diversify and create opportunities to pay your bills. Stop being a victim to government. America is the greatest place to make a buck, the government can’t stop you from making money.

    • I cannot think of a dumber thing to attach to Obama. First, he entered office in January 2009, during the worst financial crisis in generations caused by reckless deregulation across many industries combined with unprecedented Wall Street excesses…so your “retiring” seems to be a strategic choice to take your gains and employ a wait and see approach during a down cycle. After stabilizing the economy, Obama proceeded to oversee a long, steady (but slow) recovery. Construction and energy sectors did very well during this time — assuming one was nimble and capable of taking advantage of the many opportunities (i.e. Massive growth in natural gas production, solar energy expansion, etc., and major growth and expansion in home and condo markets). It seems to me that you are just looking for another forum to blame Obama for your troubles — too bad your stupidity caused you to miss out on the many opportunities over the last eight years. I wish you better luck in the Trump era.

      • E…you need to look at history…the O admin had more losses then any afmin in history. This just goes to show the stupidity of individuals that defend that tragic decade …

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