Clueless shopper bares all in checkout line

Photo: stevendepolo

You need to be careful when you're applying for a store credit card--careful with your personal information and careful that you're not signing up for a card with lousy terms.

First of all, you shouldn't apply in store. The most secure way to apply for a store card, or any other debit or credit card, is in the privacy of your home, through a secure Internet connection or phone call.

If you don’t want to miss out on a discount on a large purchase, postpone your purchase—don’t compromise your financial security like this woman I saw at Target.

Second, you need to know what you're signing up for.

Even if the terms and conditions are made available to you at the store, you’re not likely to feel comfortable taking the time to read them, or be able to concentrate fully, when you’re standing in a checkout line with a cashier and other customers waiting for you.

Third, you need to figure out if the store credit card's discount is worth the trouble.

5% back on all your Target purchases sounds like a lot--but even if you spend $1,000 a year at Target, that’s only a $50 savings. Is $50 enough to make it worth having another bill to deal with 12 times a year?

Another chore associated with store credit cards is constantly checking to make sure you don’t exceed what will probably be a very low credit limit. I've had store credit cards with limits as low as $500, and I have very good credit.

If you're really interested in a store credit card, go home and apply after you've read the fine print and thought through the pros and cons.

Don't be the clueless shopper who bares all in the checkout line.

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