To better compete with general-purpose credit cards, store credit cards are boosting their rewards programs. However, these increased incentives come with higher interest rates. Still, in spite of steadily increasing interest rates, Ohio consumers still flock to rewards-heavy store credit cards. Granted, many of the perks offered by these cards can save consumers money. Yet, unless they pay off their balances every month, Ohio store credit card users may end up canceling out their savings with interest charges. Not only that, but the higher-than-average interest rates associated with store credit cards put Ohio consumers at risk for debt-building, defaults, and credit score damage.
How Store Credit Cards are Changing to Keep Up with Consumer Trends in Ohio and Other States
Recently, CreditCards.com conducted a store credit card study involving the top 100 retailers in the U.S. Because not every major retailer offers store-branded credit cards, 65 cards from 40 different retailers were included in the study.
When findings from this study were compared to a similar study conducted in 2016, it was clear that most store credit cards have changed significantly in just one year. For example, Ohio consumes familiar with store credit cards may notice that most retailers now offer bigger discounts with card purchases. In fact, 25 of the 65 store credit cards studied improved their discount programs in the past 12 months.
Also, in obvious attempts to increase brand loyalty, 52 cards in the study offer rewards programs based on consumer spending. In 2016, only 45 store credit cards examined by CreditCards.com offered similar rewards programs.
Finally, Ohio consumers who use store credit cards to finance big purchases may benefit from a new emphasis placed on special financing deals. Now, 27 of the 65 cards studied extend financing deals to qualifying cardholders that include either deferred interest or low introductory APRs.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, most of these great incentives come with higher interest rates. According to CreditCards.com, the average retail card APR is now 24.99%. This is up about 1.15% from last year. For credit cards designed for use in specific stores only, the average APR stands at a whopping 26.38%.
It seems that most retailers are hesitant to assign interest rates that exceed 30%, but Brandsource has broken this barrier with its 30.49% APR. Three other store credit cards included in the study come with 29.99% APRs. These include Big Lots, Piercing Pagoda, and Zales.
Why Ohio Consumers Should be Careful with Store Credit Cards in Spite of Big Rewards and Heavy Incentives
A lot of Ohio consumers sign up for store credit cards on a whim. Typically, consumers approved for credit cards at store checkouts are rewarded with same-day discounts. So, if you’re making a large purchase, getting an instant, 25%-40% discount is very enticing. Why not sign up for one more credit card? What harm can it do? Unfortunately, if mismanaged, any card attached to a high interest rate can do a significant amount of damage in a short amount of time.
For example, if you sign up for a store credit card with a spending limit of around $500, keeping your balance at 30% or less than this amount is challenging. As a general rule, Ohio credit card users should never use more than 30% of their available credit at any given time. This is because lenders see high credit card balances as a sign of financial distress. Therefore, if you consistently use more than 30% of your spending limits, your credit score may drop.
Many Ohio residents who sign up for store credit cards on a whim also don’t consider the risk posed by high interest rates. Sadly, consumers who only make minimum payments on their credit cards are frequently shocked by how quickly balances rise when APRs hover around 30%. Once your balance is high enough, it can be hard to keep up with payments. Then, if you miss a few, or default entirely, your credit score can plummet.
Why Ohio Consumers Who Use Store Credit Cards Should Regularly Check their Credit Reports
Ohio consumers who can successfully manage store credit cards are rewarded with discounts, perks, and positive credit report activity. Of course, with more credit activity comes increased risks of identity theft and credit reporting errors.
All Ohio credit card users should know that there are fraudsters waiting for any opportunity to steal their payment information and personal data. So, even if they are cautious, they should still routinely check their credit reports for signs of fraudulent transactions and bogus accounts.
Also, creditors and the credit reporting agencies often misreport or mishandle consumer information. Unfortunately, they make frequent mistakes which show up as errors on Ohio credit reports. Because many of these inaccuracies cause credit score harm, consumers should find and demand their removal.
Luckily, checking your credit reports is easy, and because of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), it shouldn’t cost you anything. This federal statute entitles all consumers to free copies of their credit reports from the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. You don’t even have to go through the credit bureaus to get these free credit reports. Instead, just visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian from one, federally authorized, website.
Then, while going over your credit reports, you notice suspicious items or errors, contact the Law Offices of Gary D. Nitzkin in Ohio. When you contact our firm about your credit issues, an experienced credit attorney will get to work on fixing them. No matter what we need to do on your behalf to get the job done, you will get clean credit reports – for FREE.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit
Don’t let fraudulent accounts and charges, or errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At the Law Offices of Gary D. Nitzkin, P.C., we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? The law allows us to collect our fees and costs from the defendants in any successful action. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (216) 358-0591 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair, please visit https://creditrepairlawyersam.com/ohio/credit-repair/. Or, to learn more about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, check out https://www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/ohio/fix-identity-theft/.