Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost upon us, and with them come an onslaught of special deals, fire sales, and signup bonuses. A lot of us wait for this time of year to make big purchases, especially electronics. Retailers know it too, which is why suddenly, shopping has more deadlines than a newsroom.
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Limited time offer! Don't wait too long! Get it before it's gone! Even if you already know you're being manipulated, the sense of panic these ads create can short-circuit your instincts. And one of the biggest traps store set for their customers comes in the form of store credit cards.
"In general, store credit cards tend to come with higher interest rates and fewer benefits than regular non-store credit cards," NerdWallet's Kimberly Palmer told Moneyish. One-time deals get you to sign up, but in the long run, these cards don't always pay off. Don't forget that signing up for credit cards also affects your credit score. That includes store-specific credit cards.
Moneyish found that compared to the rest of the year, consumers are one and a half times more likely to sign up for a store credit card during the winter holidays. That exposes you to a certain amount of fine-print risk, such as deferred interest once the initial grace period has passed. You also may feel more inclined to shop for items you don't necessarily want or need if you feel obligated to use a store-specific card.
Before holiday shopping fever explodes, take stock of the store credit cards you already have. Consider how often you use them or get genuine value from them. If this is a time to trim your deck, make sure you've fulfilled your part of the sign-up agreement before you ditch anything. If you think you've got room for more — after all, you absolutely can get great deals with them — then make a plan for how you want to use your new cards. Just be mindful of whether they're what you really want.