What are store cards & are they worth it?

Applying for a store card at your favourite shop might bag you a discount, but there could be a cheaper option. Here's how store cards work and what they cost.

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One woman giving her credit card with her right to another over the counter in a clothes shop.

How do store credit cards work?

Store cards are a type of credit card that only let you spend money at a particular shop, or retail chain, and pay it back over a term that suits you.

Some store cards offer money off your first purchase, but most charge interest on what you spend.

Here are some store cards found on the high street

Argos store card: Benefits include a buy now pay later scheme, either over 3 months or 6 months, even up to 12 months.
Next store card: Benefits include £10 off your first purchase and early access to sales.
New Look store card: Benefits include instant £200 credit and 20% off in store and online.

Card benefits correct as of 15 January 2020.

Store card pros & cons


  • Discounts available

  • Can offer other in store perks


  • High interest rates & fees

  • Can only use in one store

The main advantages of store cards are the discounts and in-store benefits they offer.

However, if you don't pay off your balance each month, you are likely to pay higher interest charges than the benefits you'll get.

How much do they cost?

Store cards charge the same fees as other types of credit cards, including:

  • Interest on any outstanding balance left on the card

  • Fees for late or missed payments

  • Charges for exceeding your card limit

However, store cards often have higher interest rates than other credit cards making them more expensive.

Find out more about how credit card charges work here

What is a store branded credit card?

It is a credit card associated with a particular store, for example John Lewis.

These cards can be used anywhere, and may offer better incentives to shop than traditional store cards.

What incentives could you get?

The benefits vary depending on the card you apply for. Here are some examples:

  • Money off your purchase: This could be a set amount, or a percentage taken off your bill, however it usually only applies to your first purchase.

  • Pay nothing back at first: Save on repayments for the first few months, then start paying back the balance with interest.

  • Loyalty points: Build up points by spending, and exchange them for money off another purchase in the future.

However, these cards may charge a higher interest rate than standard credit cards, making them an expensive way to spend.

What stores have credit cards?

Here are some of the store credit cards found across the UK high street:

John Lewis store card: Benefits include - Get £5 John Lewis/Waitrose voucher for earning 500 points. Earn 1 point for every £1 you spend at John Lewis and Waitrose (2 points for every £1 you spend in your first 90 days), or 1 point for every £2 spent anywhere else.

Debenhams store card: Benefits include, 500 Bonus Points to start with, which gets you a £5 voucher. You'll earn 3 points for every £1 you spend at Debenhams. And 1 point for every £2 you spend everywhere else.

Card benefits correct as of 15 January 2020.

Is there a cheaper alternative to store credit cards?

You could apply for a 0% purchase credit card, which does not charge interest on what you spend for a set term, e.g. 0% on any purchases made in the first 12 months.

You only need to pay off a small amount off each month, called the minimum payment. This is usually a small percentage of your remaining balance, e.g. 2%.

When the 0% term ends, you will pay interest on any outstanding balance. The 0% term on a purchases credit card is likely to be longer than what a store credit card could offer.

Unlike a store card, a 0% credit card lets you spend with any retailer online or on the high street, making shopping on one card simpler.

You can compare 0% purchase credit cards here.

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards