Savvy England
Savvy England
Savvy England

Thinking of getting a Store Card in February 2019? Learn everything you need to know!

By Phillip Gray
Founder and Editor
UK Store CardIf you love shopping and visit certain retailers on a regular basis, you may be offered a store card at the till when you’re about to pay. This may seem like a good offer which can be hard to refuse, but is it correct for your budget and personal circumstances?

This section has been designed to assistance UK consumers in understanding how store cards work, the pros and cons of using one and things to look out for!

Many UK retailers have been ‘pushing’ store cards for years, highlighting their attractive benefits, discounts and other promotional attributes, but does the interest rates outweigh any savings you potentially may receive?

In this section you'll find...

What’s a Store Card?

Store cards are similar to a credit card, meaning you can purchase goods and pay the ‘balance off’ at a later date. However, unlike credit cards, you can only use the store card in a specific shop, whereby credit cards can be used everywhere.

Equally store cards typically have high interest rates attached (around 20% or more), this is obviously a large amount, compared to standard rates a traditional credit card may offer.

You should also note that Store Cards shouldn’t be confused with shop-branded credit cards.

You may have seen a Tesco Credit Card, Marks and Spencer Credit Card, John Lewis Credit Card and so on. These are not the same as store cards, you can typically use these at any retail location and their interest rates tend to be more competitive.

Things to Consider

If you’re thinking about opening a credit facility with a retailer, take a look at these important points:

  • Selling – In ‘most cases’ you’ll be offered a store card by a sales assistant, either working behind a checkout or at the front of a store. The sales assistant will ‘typically’ receive a commission for each customer they ‘sign-up’. It’s part of their job to make store cards seem attractive to you as they generally have targets to meet. Never join on a whim, make sure you’ve come to decision which reflects your budget and personal requirements.

  • APR – Some people call Store Cards the ‘Devils Debt’, this is because of the high interest rates which you can be charged. If you do take out a store card, remember to pay off the balance in full at the end of each calendar month. This should limit the APR and not result in a ‘never-ending spiral’ of interest being added.

  • Small Print – Of course, just like with most things in life, you should always read the terms and conditions and all documentation before signing up.

  • Discounts / Benefits – You’ll find that most retailers will attempt to attract customers with discounts such as ‘10% off introductory offer’ when signing up for a new store card. While this appears good, you need to work out if their APR rate will dwarf any potential discounts you may receive.

    For example, let’s say you’ve arrived at the till with clothing worth £100. The shop assistant asks if you would like to open a store card as there’s a 10% discount for new customers. This would make your total purchase £90, thus saving you £10. You agree to opening a new store card. A month later you receive a statement through the post which shows 25% interest has been added to your initial £90 balance. This means the clothing will have now cost you £112.50.

    So as you can see, if you fail to 'pay off' the balance in full at the end of each month, you'll quickly begin to pay more when the interest is added to your account.

  • Is it a Debt? – Yes, just like a credit card, a loan, car finance or a mortgage. A store card is a debt which needs to be paid back in full plus any interest (if applicable).

What Should I Use? a Store Card or Credit Card?

Shop Card MachineIn most cases, using a credit card instead of a store card will offer lower interest rates, thus saving you money in the long run. This is because store cards generally ‘rely’ on people impulse buying and sticking their purchases on a piece of plastic with high APR rates.

The retailer not only makes a profit on the items you’ve purchased, they’re also 'hoping' you spread paying the balance off to make even more money with the interest they charge.

If you pay off your credit card in full at the end of each month and plan on doing the same with a store card (if your budget allows), then any introductory offers or other promotional discounts may save you money.

However, you certainly need to be disciplined because if you miss a store card payment and the interest gets added onto your balance, any ‘saving’ you may have originally made will quickly be wiped out.

Will a Store Card affect my Credit Score?

The answer to this question is ‘it depends’. Just like applying for a lot of credit cards in a same timeframe, you may affect your credit rating and damage your ability to get new credit. However, if your credit score is generally healthy then you shouldn’t notice too much effect of applying for store cards.

Typically, the ‘general advice’ is not how many store cards you have, it’s how many times you apply. If you’re wanting multiple cards from different retailers, you should ‘space out’ your applications.

Remember each time you apply for a store or credit card; a search is added to your credit file. Equally other elements are also taken into consideration such as your repayment history, the total amount of debts you may have and your income level. These will all affect your credit file and rating.

Current Offers and Promotions Examples

If you're searching for some 'real life' examples of store cards, the benefits they offer and the typical APR rates, please see the table below:

*Last updated: 8th April 2018 - prices, APR rates and details may have changed in the meantime, please double check before applying for any account.

Company Details Website
Argos Representative 29.9% APR Variable
New Look 20% off in store & online, up to £200 instant credit (Representative APR 28.9% (variable)
Oasis Get up to £500 instant credit (Representative 28.9% APR variable)
Topman A £20 Topman voucher in your first statement to use on a £100+ spend. An extra 10% off sale prices during the first week of sale. (Representative 19.9% APR variable)
Topshop (Representative 19.9% APR Variable)
Warehouse When you open a card and spend today you'll receive a 20% off voucher to spend the next time you use your card. (Representative 29.9% APR variable)

The above table should be used as a 'guide only' - we cannot be held liable under any circumstances for details, pricing and information which may have changed.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you're seriously considering applying for a store card, read through some of these frequently asked questions to obtain as much information as possible. Our team is constantly working hard to help UK consumers get the best deal possible. So what are you waiting for?

Can I negotiate a better interest rate?
Remember that retail shops need your business, sometimes it can be worth negotiating to see if you can manage to get a better rate or even a few ‘freebies’ thrown in.

Typically, a sales assistant will not have the power to offer you a better rate, in most cases you will need to speak to a department manager or even the store manager. Remember they all have targets to meet and commissions to earn, don't be an easy catch, make them earn it!

What about using my card for occasional use?
Generally occasional use is ‘OK’ if you remember to pay the balance off in full at the end of each month. Being a ‘member’ of some retail shops can save you money, particularly on ‘member only nights’ and promotional events. However, as stated previously if you forget to pay the balance off, the interest you could be charged will sting any savings you may think you’ve made.

What should be the minimum amount to spend?
It goes without saying, you want to get the best possible saving for your money. At the end of the day there’s no point in getting a 10% off introductory offer for a £15 product. It can be a good idea to ‘club together’ with friends or family members and make a larger purchase (£200/£300+) for ‘real savings’.

Of course, you need to get anybody you joined together with, to give you the money straightaway, so you can pay off the balance in full at the end of the month!


This website has been designed to help UK consumers find the best money saving tips, tricks, guides and techniques. Of course, just like many organisations we cannot guarantee 100% perfection. With that in mind, by using this website you agree that all information should be used at ‘your own risk’ and we cannot be held responsible or liable under any circumstances. For more details please read our terms and conditions.