5 Store Credit Cards That Can Really Pay Off in Savings

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"Would you like to save an extra 10 percent today?"

We've all been offered store credit cards in exchange for an instant discount. For years, my answer was an automatic no. Who needs all those extra cards cluttering up their wallet ... and their credit report?

But it turns out that some of these cards really can be worthwhile for frequent shoppers, with many offering extra savings, lots of rewards, and perks like free shipping on online purchases.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Good credit, plus the ability (and discipline) to pay the bills in full each month, are the key to getting the benefits out of these cards -- otherwise their higher interest rates will quickly erase the savings. And even if you possess both of those attributes, you don't want to go crazy signing up for store cards; it's best to choose just one or two from stores you shop at often enough to rack up real savings.

So if, like me, you find yourself at Target (TGT) every weekend, are all too familiar with Amazon's (AMZN) one-click buying option, and have kids who outgrow their Old Navy jeans every six months, then consider these store-branded card options.

Note: Credit card companies are wily, and sometimes offer different deals to different customers, depending on factors like whether you're a current customer or how often you visit the store's website. The information below is based on the offers we received; if you see less favorable offers, give the company a call and ask for the better deal!

5 Store Credit Cards That Can Really Pay Off in Savings

(Banana Republic and Old Navy cards have nearly identical rewards)
 

  • Benefits: $10 reward for every $200 you spend at any Gap (GPS) store or website (includes Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta); 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere with the Visa option.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: Extra 10 percent off every Tuesday at Gap, Old Navy, and Piperlime for cardholders; special sales for cardholders; spend more than $800 in a year across all Gap brands and you'll be upgraded to Gap Silver, which includes free shipping on every online order.
  • Cons: Not many -- if you're a frequent shopper at these stores, this card is a no-brainer, especially if you spend enough to upgrade to Gap Silver (or Banana Republic Luxe).
  • Benefits: 5 percent off Target purchases, free shipping at Target.com, extended return periods.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: The debit card option gives you all the benefits of the credit card, with none of the credit woes.
  • Cons: You can't use it anywhere else.
  • Benefits: $50 Amazon gift card on approval, earn 3 points for every dollar spent at Amazon; 2 points per dollar on gas, restaurants, and drugstores; and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: Points are not capped and they never expire.
  • Cons: 100 points only gets you $1 in rewards, but that adds up fast if you're an Amazon addict.
  • Benefits: Two 15-percent-off coupons when you open the account; 12 additional discounts per year ranging from 15 to 30 percent.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: Stack offers with the generous Kohl's Cash rewards program; spend $600 per year to get an additional six discount coupons. Savings add up fast.
  • Cons: Can't use the card anywhere other than Kohl's (KSS).
  • Benefits: Lowe's (LOW) offers three different options for its card: 5 percent discount on all purchases at Lowe's; 0 percent financing for 6 months on purchases above $299; or 5.99 percent financing with fixed payments for a whopping 84 months on purchases over $3,500.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: For renovators, spreading out payments on big-ticket items like appliances and flooring can really help with cash flow. Frequent DIY-ers will appreciate the 5 percent savings option (not offered by competitor Home Depot).
  • Cons: You'll need to focus your spending here to get the maximum benefit, so you might not always get the lowest price; can't combine 5 percent discount with any other Lowe's coupon.
Like to spread your shopping dollars around? The Chase Freedom card could be a great option for you, especially if you shop online often. Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal offers discounts on a wide array of online stores, including a current offer of 5 percent cash back on Amazon purchases (capped at $1,500).
  • Benefits: $100 cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months; 5 percent cash back on purchases in quarterly "bonus" categories.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pros: The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal offers extra rewards at all sorts of retailers, from Apple (2x points) to Nordstrom (5x points) to a whopping 30x at Magazines.com.
  • Cons: You have to keep up with the changing categories and remember to log in to the portal to get your points; some categories cap rewards.
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Motley Fool contributor Robyn Gearey owns shares of Amazon.com. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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