Department Store Credit Card Savings "Gotcha"

The wife of a certain Action News 5 chief consumer investigator who cannot be named until January does this all the time.

She opens an account with one of those department store credit cards so she can score the 10 or 20 percent discount on the first purchase.

She knows better than anybody -- that there's a catch to these department store credit cards.

It's their interest rates.

Gerri Detweiler, president of Ultimate Credit Solutions in Sarasota, FL.(, says the average APR of a department store "savings" credit card is 19.8 percent.  That's five points higher than the average APR of standard VISA or Mastercard credit cards.

Detweiler puts this in perspective:  let's say you bought a $2,500 couch on the department store card to get the 20 percent savings ... $500.  If you made only the minimum payment each month ($40), it would take you NINE YEARS to pay off that couch.  You'd also rack up $2,600 in interest.

You could have bought two couches with that kind of money!

Best advice -- do what our chief consumer investigator's wife does.  Go ahead and get the card to get the discount, but pay it off IMMEDIATELY.  Then close out the account with a letter to the card's customer service requesting that it be shut down.  Make sure you ask for written confirmation from the store's credit card issuer that the account has indeed been closed.

(Detweiler's sourcing appears courtesy of Bottom Line Secrets)