You can’t use store credit cards anywhere. They only work at the merchants they’re connected with. For example, Target Credit Card, the REDcard, is solely for Target purchases. It’s not always one retailer, though. 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. For instance, you can use the Old Navy Credit Card at Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Wedding Way in addition to Old Navy. And you can use the Amazon.com Store Card at most merchants that accept Amazon Pay, such as RedBubble, Guess, CarParts.com, Build.com, Woot! and Authenticwatches.com.
What’s confusing is that some credit cards are affiliated with specific retailers but qualify as co-branded cards, not store cards. The difference is that a co-branded credit card belongs to a card network: Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. And it can be used anywhere that network is accepted. So if your card doesn’t have a network logo on it, it’s a store credit card.
Here’s why you can’t use store credit cards anywhere:
- Store credit cards can only be used at the retailers they’re affiliated with, which may include more than one merchant.
- The fact that store cards have limited acceptance is part of the reason they’re easier to get, generally requiring just fair credit for approval.
- Store cards are not the same as co-branded cards. Co-branded cards are associated with a particular company or organization but also belong to one of the four major card networks. So you can use them anywhere that accepts credit cards.
- The visual difference between store cards and co-branded cards is that co-branded cards feature the logo of a credit card network (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover) while store cards do not.
Many retailers actually offer two versions of their cards: one co-branded and another store-only. 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 co-branded card. You can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub.