The line is often delivered with a winning smile by the cashier at the till of your favorite high street clothing or accessory shop. The idea of cloned credit cards for sale originated with store cards – merchants extending credit to good customers who could be counted on to pay off their purchases over time. While today’s general purpose credit cards are derived and descended from that original idea, store cards today are a particular subset of credit card with some considerable differences and limitations. Confusing the issue further are cashback credit card and reward credit card offers that give you special advantages at particular merchants’ shops. They’re a peculiar hybrid that can serve you well, if you pay attention to which credit cards you hold in your wallet and which you use at various merchants.
1. Credit cards are accepted at many different merchants, including shops, travel agencies, airlines and many service shops. This gives you the freedom to shop for the lowest prices you can find among many different merchants.
2. Store cards are only accepted at one particular merchant, though they’re usually welcome at any branch store run by the merchant. You’re confined to the selection of products carried by that merchant at the prices offered by that merchant.
3. Credit cards usually carry a considerably lower APR on purchases than store credit cards. Store cards typically offer starting rates as high as 29% APR – which is often the highest rate on a general use credit card, reserved for those that have built up penalties for late payments.
4. Cashback credit cards give you a percentage of your cash back each time you use them. Some cashback credit cards offer a higher percentage when you use them at the shops of ‘member merchants’, but the card can still be used at any shop that accepts the imprint on the card. Store credit cards seldom give cash back, and can’t be used in any other store.
5. Reward credit cards operate a good deal like cashback credit cards, but rather than giving you cash back on your purchases – which amounts to a discount on the price – they reward you with points that can be used to ‘buy’ other merchandise. Generally, you can’t shop regular merchants with your reward points. Instead, you redeem them from the credit card company for merchandise that’s offered by their ‘reward partners’. The credit cards themselves, though, can be used anywhere that accepts credit cards.
6. An interesting new twist on reward credit cards are those that allow you to redeem your accrued reward points for gift cards that can be spent at any merchant that accepts their credit card. It’s another step away from the limitations imposed by store credit cards and ‘membership only’ merchants.
7. Membership credit clubs may look like credit cards – but they’re much closer to store cards. Generally, you’re required to pay a membership fee in order to shop from a catalog of merchandise offered by the credit club. They’re not credit cards and can’t be used like one.
Generally speaking, credit cards, especially cashback credit cards and reward credit cards, offer far more value than store cards. Even among the credit cards, though, there are differences that will make one card a better choice for you than another. If you’re considering a cashback credit card, take the time to compare credit cards to be sure you’re getting the best credit card for all of your needs.