Admittedly, I talk a lot of smack about department store cards on this website. With high APRs and little to no rewards, you probably understand why!
But that’s not to say they don’t serve a purpose.
If you have bad credit or you’re just building it for the first time, you need to go after credit cards that are known for having easy approval. Many dept stores fit that mold.
As of December 2013, here’s a list of the top 5 cards which have a reputation of being easy to get:
If you follow stocks and the business world, you’re probably well aware of how much trouble JCP has been going thru the last couple of years. In a nutshell, they’re losing customers like crazy!
As a result, JCP is trying every trick in the book to get back customers. This includes having relaxed requirements for their credit card. Granted, they’ve been known to give credit limits as low as $150. But something is better than nothing.
This is one of the easiest department store credit cards to get with bad credit. That is, assuming you count Walmart as being a dept store (technically it’s not, but many people still think of it as being one).
Walmart offers two cards; one is for store-use only and the other is co-branded with Discover, so it can be used anywhere that accepts Discover cards for payment. That one is a lot harder to get approved for, but their store-only version is relatively easy to get, you might even get it with no credit history.
This dept store is facing similar challenges as JCP; they’re customer base is dwindling, so they’re not very picky with the approval of their credit card. I have actually heard from people with credit scores in the 500’s getting approved for it. If you have no credit history, there’s a good chance they will be willing to take a risk on you.
They have a store version and a MasterCard. The latter will be more difficult to get, so go for the store card. The nice thing about Sears is that that they sell a lot more than just the typical clothes and cosmetics you find at a place like JCP.
4. Von Maur
If you live in the Midwest, you may want to consider Von Maur. The others on this list outsource their credit card business to third-party banks like GE Capital and Citi. However Von Maur issues and manages their own cards, so they have more power to be accommodating.
This is the best department store for financing because they don’t charge interest. But you’re not getting off scot-free because the minimum payment due each month is much higher than your typical credit card. Here is an explanation of how it works.
This may be the hardest on the list, as you often need your FICO score to be in the 600’s. Even if you can get approved, it may not be worth it because they’re known for giving people with bad credit absurdly low credit limits – as little as $100.
For those with excellent credit there is a co-branded Macy’s American Express, but obviously you will want to start with their store-only card instead.
One more thing you need to know
You can’t just rely on credit cards from department stores and other retailers to build or rebuild your credit. Why? Because the scoring algorithms don’t give as much weight to store-only accounts.
Even if you had several store cards that had years of excellent payment history and high credit limits, you would still have difficulty getting approved for a mortgage and other loans (at least, if you wanted to get approved with the best interest rates and terms).
This means it’s best for you to also get a couple major credit cards; Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover.
The latter two – AmEx and Discover – often have the strictest requirements for approval, so what I would recommend doing is trying for an entry level Visa or MasterCard. Below is a good one I recommend trying for if you don’t have “good” credit, but it’s not outright bad either:The next one I would recommend if you have fair credit, limited or no credit history:If your credit is downright horrible than try for a secured:
This article was written or last updated December 10, 2013