No, you usually can’t use store credit cards everywhere, unless they’re linked to a credit card network, such as Visa or Mastercard. But the store cards that are not on a network only work at the merchants they’re affiliated with.
Note that store cards with limited acceptance are easier to get, generally requiring just fair credit for approval. However, the cards affiliated with a retailer that are linked to a specific network tend to have stricter requirements for approval.
Here’s how store credit card acceptance works:
Store credit cards affiliated with one retailer: This type of store cards only work at one particular store. For example, the Target Credit Card, is solely for Target purchases.
Store credit cards affiliated with more than one merchant: If multiple brands are owned by the same parent company, you should be able to use any one of their store cards for purchases from all of the brands.
Store credit cards linked to a network: There are some credit cards affiliated with specific retailers which also belong to a card network, such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. These cards can be used anywhere that network is accepted.
Many retailers actually offer two versions of their cards: one connected with a network and another for store-only purchases. And there’s often just one application. The issuing bank decides which one you get (if any) based on your credit standing. You’ll generally need good credit or better to get a store card belonging to a network.
Unfortunately not. Most store cards are only good for that particular store. You might get lucky with a couple cards, like Bealls, that work across 4 other stores, but generally store cards are seen more as a sign of brand loyalty.
The best store credit card that can be used anywhere is the Amazon.com Credit Card. With this card you can earn 3 points per $1 spent at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
What You Should Know Before Applying for a Store Credit Card
Store credit cards that can be used anywhere are known as open-loop cards. Usually, the traditional store cards can only be used for store-related purchases. However, retailers will sometimes offer a store card linked to a credit card network such as … read full answerMastercard or Visa.
Open-loop cards tend to have stricter requirements for approval than their store credit counterparts. You'll typically need good credit or better to qualify. These cards can also earn significant benefits when used outside of the store. At the same time, they still enjoy all the perks and discounts that come with in-store and online purchases.
Here are the best store credit cards that can be used anywhere:
The Amazon.com Credit Card offers $60 Amazon.com gift card upon approval ($150 for Prime members). Plus, you can earn 3 points per $1 spent at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The card has a $0 annual fee. It requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better for approval.
With the Costco Credit Card you can earn 4% cash back on eligible gas (up to $7,000 spent per year), 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% back on Costco and Costco.com purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases. The card has a $0 annual fee with a paid Costco membership. It requires a credit score of 750, at a minimum. That means you need excellent credit for approval.
With the Walmart Credit Card you can earn 5% cash back in Walmart stores using Walmart Pay for the first 12 months, 5% back on Walmart.com purchases, 2% back at Walmart stores and fuel stations, 2% back on restaurant and travel purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases. The card has a $0 annual fee. It requires a credit score of 640, at a minimum. That means you need fair credit or better for approval.
The Sam's Club® Credit Card offers $50 statement credit after spending $30 in the first 30 days. Plus, you can earn 5% cash back on gas (up to $6,000 spent per year), 3% back on dining, takeout and on Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members, and 1% back on all other purchases (up to $5,000 earned in cash back rewards per year). The card comes with a $0 annual fee. It requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better for approval.
With the Nordstrom Credit Card you can receive a $40 Note when you make any purchase with Nordstrom. Plus, you can earn 1 - 2 points / $1. The card has a $0 annual fee. It requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better for approval.
With the Best Buy® Credit Card you can earn 2.5 points per $1 spent on Best Buy purchases, 1.5 points per $1 spent at gas stations, 1 point per $1 spent at restaurants, bars and grocery stores, and 0.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. The card comes with a $0 annual fee. It requires a credit score of 700, at a minimum. That means you need good credit or better for approval.
Store credit cards that can be used anywhere offer more flexibility than traditional store credit cards, but unless you want supplemented rewards at a specific store, you may still find more value with a general rewards card.
With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, for instance, you can earn 2% cash back on every purchase (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay for those purchases). Alternatively, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card gives 3% cash back in a category of your choice and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 spent quarterly), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, it offers $200 for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
The main difference between a store card and a credit card is that a store card has limited use compared to a regular credit card. Store cards are a type of credit card that can only be used for purchases from a specific store or group of stores. Regular credit cards can be used at any merchant that accepts cards from their network – American Express, Discover, Mastercard or Visa. Many stores also offer cards that are … read full answerco-branded with a major credit card network. These cards work the same way as a regular credit card but have some store-specific benefits.
Store card vs Credit Card - Here are the main differences between a store card and a credit card:
Where you can use them: Regular credit cards and co-branded cards tend to have stricter requirements for approval than store credit cards. Most store cards require only fair credit to be approved, whereas co-branded cards generally require good credit. Other non-store credit cards are available to people with all kinds of credit, from bad to excellent.
Rewards: Usage limitations also restrict any store cards’ rewards to the location(s) they’re affiliated with. Regular credit cards, on the other hand, will allow for more diverse redemption options, often at a higher value as well.
Regular interest: Store cards have higher regular APRs than general-purpose credit cards, on average. If you carry a balance, the store card’s higher APR may cancel out any discounts or rewards earned on store purchases.
Deferred interest: Store cards with "0% intro APRs" typically use deferred interest. This means if you don’t pay the entire balance before the introductory period ends, you’ll be charged interest all the way back to the original purchase balance. Regular credit cards with 0% APRs only charge interest on any unpaid balance remaining after the promotion ends.
Ultimately, the differences between store cards and credit cards favor credit cards, and for good reason. Store cards can help people with fair credit improve their score, while helping anyone eligible for approval save money on purchases at popular stores. But their use is limited. Traditional credit cards are better if you plan to use the card for everyday spending. You’ll reap a lot more value because you can use the card at far more places. The same is true for co-branded cards affiliated with a particular store, though their rewards for purchases unrelated to that store usually are not as good.
Store credit cards work like regular consumer credit cards, in that you make purchases on the card, and you make payments on your purchases, either in full, or over time. The difference is, with a store credit card, you’re typically limited to purchases within the store, a group of stores or the store websites.… read full answer
The exception is a store card co-branded with a network such as Visa or Mastercard. You’ll still be eligible for any in-store discounts when you use the card, plus you’ll have the flexibility of using the card anywhere the card’s network is accepted.
Store credit cards come with advantages, and some pitfalls. You’ll have to assess how frequent you shop at the store, along with your spending habits and current credit profile before you apply.
Here are some store credit card advantages:
Easy approval: Store cards typically require at least fair credit, making it easy to qualify. Co-branded store credit cards might be harder to get because of their added spending power. Expect most co-branded store cards to require at least good credit.
Builds and establishes credit: A store credit card is just that, a credit card. Any activity on the card should be reported to the major credit bureaus. Just be careful not to overspend at your favorite store, or you may end up damaging the very credit you’re trying to establish.
Rewards and benefits: You can receive generous discounts on in-store purchases just by applying in the check-out line. You’ll also receive offers for other perks and benefits such as free shipping, no-hassle returns and exchanges, online discounts, and more, all when you use your card. Co-branded store cards get to cash in all the store perks, and may also earn rewards on purchases made outside of the store.
Here are some store credit card disadvantages:
The debt trap: Your favorite store credit card is not an invitation to overspend. Be careful with “exclusive” sales events. Your intent might be to save a few bucks on sale items, but oftentimes, the tendency is to spend more, thinking the savings will offset the cost of the additional purchases. The reality is you’ll likely end up with more debt than you’d originally planned.
Low credit limits: Don’t expect to have much spending power with a store credit card, especially if this is your first credit account. With a couple of quick purchases, you’ll easily end up burning up most of your available credit. That will push your credit utilization, or debt-to-credit ratio, to an unfavorable level. Try to maintain a ratio of less than 30%. The higher your utilization, the less likely you’ll be eligible for credit limit increases or additional credit accounts.
High interest rates: Store credit cards often charge significantly higher interest rates than regular credit cards. The average regular APR for store credit cards was 28% in 2020. If you carry a balance or are overextended on your store credit card, the debt will mount quickly. Interest is calculated daily and starts accruing on the transaction. That interest is compounded, which means if you carry a balance, another wave of interest charges will pile on top of the interest accrued during the previous month.
Beware of any 0% financing promotions a store may offer when you make a large purchase on your store credit card. Hidden in that offer can be something known as deferred interest, and it’s standard practice on most store credit cards. You charge a specific amount on your store credit card, and you’ll receive 0% interest if you pay off the balance in full in a specified number of months.
The problem is, you’re not really getting 0% interest in the traditional sense. That interest is “deferred,” meaning the only way you’ll get the 0% rate is if you pay the balance in full before the end of the promotion. Otherwise, any balance left after the promotion expires, could activate the regular interest charges for the entire purchase amount. So if you’re in the market for a credit card with good financing options, it’s better to steer clear of store credit cards with deferred interest and opt for a credit card with a true 0% introductory APR offer.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.
WalletHub members have a wealth of knowledge to share, and we encourage everyone to do so while respecting our content guidelines. This question was posted by WalletHub. Please keep in mind that editorial and user-generated content on this page is not reviewed or otherwise endorsed by any financial institution. In addition, it is not a financial institution’s responsibility to ensure all posts and questions are answered.
Ad Disclosure: Certain offers that appear on this site originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on an offer’s details page using the designation "Sponsored", where applicable. Advertising may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). At WalletHub we try to present a wide array of offers, but our offers do not represent all financial services companies or products.