Store Credit Cards
I blather on about rewards from traditional travel and cash back credit cards plenty, but I enjoy more niche cards just as much, and sometimes more. Indeed, I spend at these stores more often than I redeem many travel currencies. When I think of store credit cards, my thoughts first go to my youth – you know, when they ONLY worked at a specific brand store. Fortunately, store credit cards have gotten better. Many can now be used anywhere, and a few of them offer excellent rewards. Today, I’m describing three of my favorites.
Sam’s Club Mastercard
I have a hot and cold relationship with Sam’s. The Sam’s Club parking lot is a special version of consumer hell. That’s one reason I concede to paying $110 for a Sam’s Plus membership. Hello free shipping for most online orders and mostly goodbye to the actual stores. (And when I do go to the store, I park across the street.)
But meanwhile, I pick up big rewards with the Sam’s Club Mastercard from Synchrony. First off, this no annual fee card earns 5% back on gas station spend, up to $6k spend annually. Sam’s Club spend earns an additional 3% on top of my 2% as a Plus member for an overall 5% rate. I earn 3% on dining purchases, as well (all other spend earns 1%). Rewards are earned in Sam’s Cash, and we have no problem using the rewards on normal purchases online or in-store.
No one should pursue this card for a signup bonus – it’s currently a $50 statement credit after spending $50 at Sam’s within 30 days. But the ongoing earning from the bonus categories on a no annual fee card is enough for many, including me.
Years ago, the Target Mastercard was tough to acquire. It required applying for the Target Redcard credit card and eventually getting product changed to the Mastercard. But about a year ago, I heard others were getting immediately approved for the Mastercard. Soon after, my wife and I each lucked out and were approved for the Target Mastercard issued by TD Bank. Talk to your friends and see which they’ve been approved for (or if they’ve heard from others)!
Like other versions of the RedCard, the Mastercard earns 5% virtually across the board at Target, including on third party gift cards. The card also earns 2% on gas station and dining spend, not huge overall but respectable for a no fee card. I particularly like stacking the 5% card savings with limited-time Target Circle bonuses and other promotions.
Like the Sam’s card, the Target signup bonus isn’t lucrative. New credit cardholders can save $50 on a future Target purchase, redeemable through Target Circle.
Banana Republic Rewards Mastercard
A favorite of mine since its days with Synchrony, the no-fee Banana Republic Rewards Mastercard from Barclays provides huge rewards primarily through targeted bonus spend offers. For instance, my wife and I have each routinely received offers of 5x, and 10x on rare occasions, on certain category spending, including grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants. Along the way, we’ve reached Banana Republic’s top-tier Icon status ($5k spend anywhere on the card) and unlocked additional benefits. Points are worth one cent each for redemption at the Gap family of brands (Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Athleta). The card normally earns 5x on Gap family purchases, and 1x everywhere else.
Barclays offers card versions from others in the Gap family of brands. It appears earning is the same on each card type, so you may want to consider another version based on your brand preference. The signup bonus for the Banana Republic Mastercard is 20% off your first purchase at Banana Republic, so maybe pick up the card before a big shopping trip.
I didn’t get into all of the reasons to hold each card, and the selection of store credit cards continues to expand. More stores are offering cards useful everywhere. But watch out, some are inferior to more traditional rewards credit cards. Still, I’m excited to see where this sector goes, knowing that something else worth my effort will appear sooner or later. So, dear reader, what store credit cards do you currently hold or plan to acquire? Why?
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.