In this article, a presentation is made of the differences between major credit cards and credit cards offered by specific stores to their customers. The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of major credit cards and store cards to aid consumers in making decisions regarding which lines of credit lines would be the best for them in a given set of circumstances. In most situations, due to the higher rates of interest charged by most store-specific cards, it is best for the budget-conscious consumer to consider forgoing those accounts in favor of a major credit card.
With that said, we are not endorsing any particular credit card brand in this article. Rather, the materials presented are for informational and educational purposes only.
Major credit cards are accepted in a wide variety of places and venues. Indeed, the major credit card companies make it a point of promoting how wide spread card acceptance is in this day and age.
On the other hand, store-specific credit cards are good only at the issuing store.
Where to Apply
It is simple to apply for major credit cards. Nearly any bank or financial institution can provide a customer with an application for one or another of the major credit cards. Additionally, the Internet has become a handy resource for those men and women interested in applying for and obtaining a major credit card.
Store-specific credit cards only can be applied for directly at the store or shop. Additionally, if the store has an Internet presence - and many major stores and even smaller shops do so in this day and age - applications for store-specific credit cards can be made online.
Annual Fee and Related Charges
Many major credit cards do charge an annual fee. Some major credit cards charge an additional or supplemental membership depending on where the card was obtained.
Store-specific credit cards normally are free of annual fees and similar charges to their customers. However, store-specific credit cards carry with them notably higher rates of interest than can be found with major credit card accounts.
Common Clauses and Provisions
In the United Kingdom, and in most European Union countries, there are clauses and provisions that must be included in each and every monthly credit card billing statement - both from major credit card companies and on store credit card accounts as well. These clauses and provisions are:
- A detailed listing of all credit card transactions
- A detailed listing of the amount owed from the previous month plus the extra amount or interest to be paid on that amount owed
- The total amount owed for the current month
- The minimum amount that must be paid during the month. In the United Kingdom, this amount is about 3% of the balance or £5 whichever is greater.
- An estimate of the interest payable if you do not pay your account in full.
- The date by which the account must be paid if interest charges are to be avoided
- A detailed listing of the monthly interest rate for purchases, the APR (annual percentage rate) and the interest rate if you have used your card for cash
In the final analysis, one should only have as much credit as is absolutely necessary. Generally, it is not a wise decision to rake in a bunch of different credit cards. Rather, the best policy usually is to maintain one or two major credit cards. Also consider that store cards generally do not offer the same benefits as credit cards such as balance transfers , although it is common to get brand exclusive reward schemes with store cards. Finally, one must be cautious about obtaining store-specific credit cards due to the higher rates of interest that come with these accounts.
Neil Brown is a freelance writer with regular contributions to Search4 Credit Cards and Choose A Credit Card .