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store credit card

    We’re all feeling the pinch of inflation. Of course, everywhere we turn, someone is pushing a glossy brochure with big promises across the counter. The choices are endless along with the confusion. Are store credit cards worthwhile or just extra weight in your wallet? Luckily, a few hidden gems turn regular purchases into a goldmine of rewards. Indeed, the best store credit cards can offer significant savings. Keep reading to find out about their main features.

    What is a Store Credit Card?

    Think of a store credit card like a backstage pass to your favorite retailers since they come co-branded between a merchant and a financial institution. So, it has one goal in mind – keeping you coming back for more. It works pretty much like any other credit card, letting you fill your cart today and foot the bill tomorrow.

    But there’s a catch because these cards are all about exclusivity. They’re typically linked to a specific store or a group of stores. The best store credit cards, however, let you shop around and earn rewards like a regular credit card.

    How do Store Credit Cards Work?

    Store credit cards work just like traditional credit cards, with a few twists to convert you into a loyal customer. When you sign up for a credit card, you essential borrow money from the issuing financial institution every time you make a purchase. Of course, you’ll need to make at least the minimum payment by the due date to avoid late fees.

    You have to apply for store credit cards due to their specific eligibility requirements, such as a minimum income and credit score. When you apply, expect a hard credit check on your file. Not to mention, a store credit card could negatively impact your credit score if you miss payments or if your balance is too high.

    On the other hand, it could help improve your credit score if you make your payments on time, keep a low balance, and (ideally) pay the balance off in full every month. That’s good news if you’re trying to build or improve your credit, and most store credit cards are easier to get than traditional credit cards.

    How do Store Credit Cards Stretch your Dollar?

    Here’s the juicy part. Store credit cards come with special perks that make every shopping trip feel like a birthday treat. Now, you could score discounts on your purchases, get first dibs on sales, or rake in points or cash back every time you shop at the issuing store.

    As your reward points pile up, you can swap them for future purchases, making your money do a fun little boomerang trick. It’s a neat way for you to save some dough, while the store gets to high-five a loyal customer.

    Here’s an example: let’s say your favourite retailer’s credit card offers 2% cash back on all purchases at their stores. Every time you spend $100, you get $2 back. While it might not sound like much at first, over the course of a year, it can add up to substantial savings. Better yet, the best store credit cards in Canada reward you on all your purchases no matter where you shop.

    So, if you’re a fan of saving as you spend, a store credit card might be the flex your wallet needs. But remember, to truly reap these benefits, it’s crucial to use the credit card wisely and pay off the balance in full each month to avoid high-interest charges.

    Unveiling the crème de la crème, we present the most rewarding store credit cards in Canada that can add a silver lining to your tight budget. These cards not only offer lucrative rewards and exclusive perks, but they also open the door to impressive savings with your favourite retailers.

    1. Tims Credit Card – Best Store Credit Card for Coffee and Streaming

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”64dd008b7271d033a068311b”]

    In an effort to establish a stronger presence in the competitive world of rewards programs, Tim Hortons recently introduced the Tims credit card. This credit card can be accessed through the mobile application and is seamlessly integrated with their existing loyalty program, Tims Rewards.

    When you buy food and beverages at a Tim Hortons Restaurant, you earn 15 points per $1 spent. Don’t forget to also scan your Rewards card! You also get 5 points per $1 on groceries, public transportation, taxis, ride-sharing services, gasoline and electric vehicle charging, as well as 1 point per $2 on anything else. To illustrate, consider someone who spends $100 monthly at Tim Hortons, $300 on groceries, $100 on gas, and $100 on public transit using the Tims credit card. This would allow them to accumulate 4,000 points. They could exchange these points for coffee, meals and sweets at any Tim Hortons.

    Tims Rewards

    New cardholders are greeted with a generous 10,000 bonus Tims Rewards points, equivalent to saving about $52 or getting 25 free coffees for your morning boost. To receive your welcome points, you are required to make an initial purchase within 30 days of receiving the card and spend at least $200 in the second, third, and fourth months following card activation. You must apply for and be approved by December 31, 2023. Additionally, you’ll get 3 months of Crave for free when you pay for your subscription with your Tims card before November 19, equating to potential savings of up to $60.

    Furthermore, the Tims card provides valuable protections. The Extended Warranty feature extends the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year for most items purchased with the card, with a maximum repair or reimbursement limit of $1,000 per incident. Purchase Protection offers a similar safeguard for the initial 90 days after the purchase date.

    Since the value of one Tims point is 0.5 cents, this card makes the Tim Rewards program much more interesting. The 15 points you accumulate for every dollar spent at Tim Hortons translate to a 7.5% cash back, surpassing the typical offerings of most credit cards. Furthermore, the 5 points (2.5%) on select essential purchases is a noteworthy benefit that caters to a broad range of individuals, making this card exceptionally versatile.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)600
    *If your score is lower, apply for the Secured Tims Credit Card instead.
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    2. Neo Credit – Best Partnerships with Stores

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    Neo offers a range of credit products, among them the Neo Credit card. Your first purchase at a partner store could earn a 15% cash back. And it’s one of the easiest credit card to get in Canada. To find the best deals, you’ll need to download the Neo app and look for partner stores nearby.

    On average, you’ll earn a 5% cash back at numerous partner stores located throughout the country and online, including AVIS, LCBO, Netflix and Clearly. If you happen to have a Neo Money account, you have the option to deposit your cash back into this account, where it will accrue interest at a rate of 2.25%.

    Here’s the exciting part: you have the option to supercharge your card with some fantastic extras. Whether you’re into travel, dining, or staying healthy, you can turbocharge your Neo Credit card for even more enjoyment. Take the Mind and Body perk, for example, priced at just $9.99 per month. With this nifty add-on, you’ll score a sweet 1.25 times more cashback when you hit the gym, attend yoga classes, visit wellness centers, or see your favorite wellness practitioners. And that’s not all! This subscription also grants you access to Headspace Plus, an awesome app with a treasure trove of meditation and mindfulness exercises, among other fantastic perks.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)600
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident and have a Canadian photo ID.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    3. President’s Choice (PC) Financial Mastercard – Best for Pharmacy Purchases

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Interest rate: 21.99% for purchases; 22.97% for cash advances
    • Rewards: Up to 25 Points/$1

    The PC Financial Mastercard is unique as it tailors rewards to match products. This card is a great option for groceries, pharmacy and gas. Cardholders earn up to 25 PC Optimum points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart, which goes down to 20 points per dollar for travel-related eligible purchases with PC Travel, and up to 30 points per litre of gas at Esso and Mobile gas stations. All other purchases earn 10 PC Optimum points for every dollar spent, including at Maxi, Provigo and Wholesale Club. 

    Points can be redeemed for free products and groceries at a variety of online and physical stores, including Joe Fresh, PC Express and Shoppers Drug Mart. In addition, points can be redeemed at Esso stations throughout the country. For instance, you can redeem 4,000 points to get 10 cents off per litre, up to 40 litres.

    Look out for special offers to earn more PC Optimum points. The company is known for offering additional points on specific purchases made with a PC Financial credit card. Plus, a few times a year, Shoppers Drug Mart runs a “20x the points” promotion on in-store purchases. Capitalize on those events to boost your points! 

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)660
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    4. CIBC Costco Mastercard – Best Store Credit Card for Bulk Shoppers

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Interest rate: 19.75% for purchases; 21.49% for cash advances
    • Rewards: Up to 3% cash back

    The CIBC Costco Mastercard offers excellent cash back rewards, such as 3% on restaurants and Costco gas. Using the card at other gas stations or to make purchases at costco.ca also earns a 2% cash back. All other purchases, including in a Costco store, earn 1% cash back. However, points must be redeemed for gift certificates that can only be used at Costco.

    One of the biggest highlights of the card is the CIBC Pace It installment plans. There are no installment charges, but the buyer gets a special interest rate that depends on the length of the plan. 

    In addition to these benefits, CIBC Costco Mastercard comes with insurance coverage, including purchase security, extended warranty insurance, and mobile device insurance. Also, members can request up to 3 additional cards at no extra charge. 

    Unfortunately, this card is only available to Costco members. A Costco membership starts as low as $60 per year, and applications can be submitted online.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)630
    Annual Income$15,000
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.
    Be a Costco member.

    5. Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard – Best for Online Shoppers

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Interest rate: 19.99% for purchases; 22.99% for cash advances and balance transfers
    • Rewards: Up to 2.5% cash back (for Prime members)

    The Amazon Rewards Mastercard comes with impressive rewards but has a higher credit score requirement than most store credit cards. Applicants need good credit to qualify.

    The card offers 5% cash back for the first 6 months. The spending amount is capped at $3,000, which means buyers can earn a maximum of $150 in cash back. After the 6-month promotional period ends, the cash back rate falls to 2.5% for Amazon Prime members and 1.5% for nonmembers on eligible purchases at Amazon.ca and Whole Foods Market. All other purchases earn 1%. Moreover, in order to help you offset foreign transaction fees, Amazon offers 2.5% cash back to eligible Prime members on foreign currency transactions and 1% to nonmembers.

    Points are automatically converted into gift cards. The threshold is 2,000 points, which earns a $20 gift card. The conversion rate isn’t overly generous, but can still prove to be beneficial for loyal Amazon consumers. In addition, there are travel benefits such as lost luggage assistance. Moreover, the card offers purchase assurance, extended warranty benefits, and emergency card replacement. If you need to rent a car, you will save a minimum of 5% to 10% off the base rates at participating Avis and Budget locations.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)680
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    6. Triangle Mastercard (Canadian Tire) – Best for Sporty People & Gas Purchases

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Interest rate: 19.99% for purchases; 22.99% for cash advances and balance transfers
    • Rewards: Up to 4% cash back in CT Money

    Called the best Canadian Tire card, the Triangle Mastercard offers Canadian Tire Money (CT) rewards. This is one of the most rewarding store credit cards in Canada, as it offer 5¢ cash back per litre of gas at Gas+ locations.

    Furthermore, the card offers up to 4% cash back in CT Money on eligible purchases at participating stores. These include Canadian Tire, Mark’s, Sport Chek, Party City, Pro Hockey Life, Atmosphere, Sports Rousseau and Hockey Experts. Additional stores are added from time to time, so check the official site for a list of participating stores.

    Grocery shopping can earn cardholders 1.5% CT Money, excluding Walmart and Costco. Every other purchase earns 0.5% CT Money. Points can be redeemed at almost all participating stores, including Canadian Tire. The conversion ratio is excellent at 1:1.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)660
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    7. Walmart Rewards Mastercard – Best Store Credit Card for Families

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f71f34736a168616a45e125″ id=”229114″]

    Walmart Rewards Mastercard comes with no annual fee and has low minimum income requirements. However, applicants need to have a credit score of 640 or higher to qualify. Cardholders earn rewards every time they use the card at Walmart or any other store. 

    Shopping online at walmart.ca or at a physical Walmart store in Canada will earn 1.25% cash back in Walmart Reward dollars. This rate goes down to 1% for all other stores, including gas stations. The card has an excellent points-to-dollar conversion ratio of 1:1, which means 1 Walmart Reward Dollar is worth $1. Other benefits include liability protection and Mastercard Global Services.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)640
    Annual IncomeNone
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    Don’t Like These Store Credit Cards? Consider a Cash Back Card

    Those who do not want to own a store credit card can consider cash back cards. Just like store credit cards, cash back cards reward buyers for making purchases by paying back a percentage of the amount spent. Cash back cards may prove to be more beneficial than store credit cards as they offer more ways to redeem rewards and are typically more generous. However, they usually have higher credit score and income requirements.

    BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f31593392ec22115033b2b6″]

    The BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard is a little expensive, but it’s worth it. New users don’t have to pay annual charges for the first year and enjoy a generous welcome offer.

    This card offers 5% back on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas and electric vehicle charging, 2% on recurring bills, and 1% on all other purchases. Points can be used towards bills or deposited into a BMO account. When you need to rent a car, you can save up to 25% at participating National Car Rental and Alamo locations. Other perks include complimentary roadside assistance.

    EligibilityDescription
    Credit Score (estimated)725
    Annual Income$80,000 personal or
    $150,000 household
    OtherBe a Canadian resident.
    Have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

    How to Choose the Right Store Credit Card in 5 Simple Steps

    Choosing the right store credit card can feel overwhelming, but a few key factors can help you find a card that aligns with your shopping habits and financial goals. Here are 5 simple steps to guide you:

    1. Evaluate Your Spending Habits: Start by identifying where you shop the most. If there’s a particular store or chain where you frequently make purchases, a credit card from that retailer could offer valuable rewards.
    2. Understand the Rewards: Different cards offer different reward structures. Some provide cash back, while others offer points or discounts on purchases. Consider what type of reward would benefit you the most and check how easy it is to redeem these rewards for the benefits you want or need the most.
    3. Read the Fine Print: Be sure to fully understand the card’s terms and conditions. Look for details about the interest rate, fees, and penalty charges. Also, check if the card’s rewards or perks come with any restrictions or expiration dates.
    4. Weigh the Perks: Store cards usually come with perks like special discounts, early access to sales, or exclusive merchandise. Weigh these benefits against any potential downsides, like high interest rates or limited usability outside the issuing store.
    5. Consider Your Financial Situation: Reflect on your financial situation and habits. If you’re disciplined about paying off your balance in full each month and are looking to maximize rewards at your favourite store, a store credit card could be a good fit. If, however, you already have high-interest credit card debt or tend to overspend, it may be best to avoid store credit cards.

    Remember, the right credit card for you largely depends on your individual needs, preferences, and financial habits. It’s all about finding a card that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle while offering maximum benefits.

    5 Downsides of Store Credit Cards

    While store credit cards offer enticing rewards and discounts, they also come with their share of potential pitfalls that you should carefully consider. Here’s what you need to watch out for:

    High Interest Rates

    This is a significant downside. Store credit cards often come with significantly higher interest rates compared to regular credit cards. This means if you carry a balance from month to month, the interest can quickly wipe out any savings you might have gained from the card’s rewards. If you tend to carry a balance, a store credit may not be right for you.

    Shopping Limitations

    Unlike general-purpose credit cards, store cards are usually only accepted at the issuing store or chain. But that’s not always the case. The store credit cards on this list can be used anywhere, which is why they’re are among the best in Canada. However, the rewards are typically tied to purchases made at the issuing store.

    Lower Credit Limits

    Store credit cards often have lower credit limits. While this could help control overspending, it could also make it easier to use a high percentage of your available credit, which may negatively impact your credit score.

    Impact on Credit Score

    Applying for a store credit card will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which may temporarily lower your credit score. Also, having too many store cards might indicate to potential lenders that you rely too heavily on credit to make ends meet. Overall, this could affect your ability to borrow in the future.

    Risk of Overspending

    The discounts and rewards can encourage unnecessary spending. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying more just to earn rewards or take advantage of a discount.

    While store credit cards can certainly offer value to some shoppers, it’s crucial to understand the downsides and use the cards responsibly. Always read the fine print, consider your spending habits, and make sure you can pay off the balance in full each month to truly benefit from a store credit card.

    FAQs about the Best Store Credit Cards

    How do store credit cards work?

    Store credit cards are issued by retailers in partnership with a financial institution. These cards function like a regular credit card, allowing you to make purchases and pay them off later, but they are typically tied to the issuing store. The key advantage of store cards lies in their reward programs, offering discounts, cash back, or reward points for purchases made at the associated store.

    Are store cards bad for credit?

    Not necessarily. Just like any credit card, store cards can help or harm your credit, depending on how you use them. Responsible use, such as making purchases within your budget and paying your bill in full and on time, can help build your credit. However, if you carry a high balance or miss payments, it could harm your credit score. Also, every time you apply for a store card, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your score.

    Are store credit cards worth it?

    The value of a store credit card depends on your shopping habits and financial behaviour. If you frequently shop at a particular retailer and can pay off your balance each month, a store card can offer substantial benefits, including discounts, reward points, or cash back. However, if you rarely shop at the issuing store or tend to carry a balance, the high interest rates and inflexibility may outweigh the benefits.

    Can I use a store credit card anywhere?

    Many store credit cards can only be used at the issuing store or chain, although some offer co-branded cards that can be used anywhere like a regular credit card. However, the highest reward rates and best redemption vlaue are usually tied to purchases made at the issuing store

    Do store credit cards build credit?

    Yes, store credit cards can help build credit. Each time you make a purchase and pay your bill on time, it demonstrates responsible credit use and can contribute positively to your credit history. However, it’s important to maintain a low balance relative to your credit limit, as a high utilization rate can negatively impact your credit score.

    Which stores have credit cards in Canada?

    Costco, Walmart, Hudson’s Bay, Amazon, Superstore, and Canadian Tire are some of the major stores offering store credit cards in Canada.

    Can I apply for a Costco credit card in the store?

    Yes, you can apply for a Costco credit card in the store. However, you need to show documents that prove your income, Costco membership, address, and identity.

    Do store credit cards help me build my credit score?

    Yes, store credit cards can help build credit as most issuers report to the bureaus. 

    Can I pay my Walmart credit card in the store?

    Yes, Walmart credit cards can be paid off in the store. You can also pay it through the mail, on the mobile app, and on the website.

    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications