When making a purchase at a department store, it's rare when the cashier doesn't ask if you would like to open a credit card for that retailer. Nearly every major department store has its own credit card program, offering customers perks for spending money. While the exact process varies from store to store, opening a department store credit card generally follows the same steps.
If you're having trouble deciding on which credit card to open, third-party websites such as CardHub compare the different choices, providing annual percentage rates and card features.
Choose a Version
Many department stores have two versions of their store credit card--a store-only card and a co-branded card. Nordstrom, for example, offers the Nordstrom retail card, which you can only use in store, and a co-branded Nordstrom Visa Signature, good wherever Visa is accepted.
According to DebtSmart, if you have poor credit, the general store card may be a good fit because those cards generally have lower income and credit requirements.
Get an Application
Most retailers allow you to apply for a card in the store through the customer service desk or a cashier. Depending on the department store, you may also be able to apply online via the store's website. Several department stores also allow you to apply over the phone by calling that store's customer service number.
Depending on the department store, if you fill out and turn in the application that day, you can use your new credit card immediately. Online applications may also provide additional savings to use that day. JCPenney, for example, gives customers 15 percent off their first purchase and free shipping for online orders.
Fill Out the Application
Each credit card application is a little different, but most ask for the same basic information including:
- Personal information including name, address, phone number and email address
- Identity information such as date of birth, Social Security number and mother's maiden name
- Income data including yearly income and whether you own or rent
You must be 18 years old and a United States citizen to open a department store credit card.
Wait for a Response
If you meet the income and credit requirements for that particular card, you may receive immediate approval, whether you apply in the store or online. If you do not get an immediate approval or denial, typically you'll hear from the company in three to seven days through the mail.
- Card Hub: Store Credit Cards
- DebtSmart: Retail Credit Cards and Department Store Credit Cards
- American Express. "Types of Credit Cards: Understanding the Differences." Accessed July 31, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "The Consumer Credit Card Market." Page 31. Accessed July 31, 2020.
- Bank of America. "Pros and Cons of Store Credit Cards." Accessed July 31, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How to Understand Special Promotional Financing Offers on Credit Cards." Accessed July 31, 2020.
- Experian. "How Do Retail Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score?" Accessed July 31, 2020.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.