8 Best Department Store Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Credit Cards

If you have bad credit, getting approved for a credit card can be a huge challenge. And most of the time, the credit cards you can get approved for won’t have the most appealing rates and terms. Many of these credit cards offer no signup bonuses and have very high APRs.


One option you can consider is building your credit with a department store credit card. Of course, most store credit cards have high APRs and low credit limits, but the approval process tends to be easier. And if you get a store credit card at a store you regularly shop at, you can earn in-store discounts.

Do store credit cards help your credit score?

Department store credit cards will boost your credit score the same as any other credit card because they report to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. And if you’re in the process of rebuilding your credit, there are many advantages to going this route.

The credit limit on store cards is usually low, so you don’t have to worry about overspending. And you can earn discounts at your favorite department stores, many of which may come with high price tags. In addition, you may earn benefits, like free shipping or free alterations on clothing.

Here are a few things to keep in mind going forward:

  • Keep your credit utilization rate below 30%.
  • Pay off your balance in full every month, so you don’t end up paying interest.
  • Look for a credit card with no annual fee.
  • Look for a credit card offering a deferred-interest promotion.

8 Best Store Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Now that you know the advantages of taking out a department store credit card, the next step is choosing the credit card that’s right for you. Listed below are eight department store credit cards you might consider.

1. Dillards

If you have at least fair credit, you have a good chance of being approved for a Dillard’s card. With this credit card, you earn two reward points for every dollar spent at Dillard’s. Once you reach 1,500 points, you can choose between a 10% off coupon or a $10 off coupon.

If you spend more than $2,000 a year at Dillard’s, you’ll qualify for the Elite Status card. This will earn you additional perks like free shipping, free in-store gift wrapping, and invitations to private shopping events.

Here is an overview of the Dillard’s card:

  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 12-24 months
  • Regular APR: 25.24%-27.24% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

2. The Gap

When you’re approved for a Gap credit card issued by Synchrony Bank, you’ll save 20% and earn free shipping on your first purchase using the credit card. One unique thing about the Gap card is that you can use it and earn points at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. However, you can only redeem the rewards at Gap stores.

For every dollar you spend online or in-store, you’ll earn five rewards points. Once you reach 500 points, you’ll earn a $5 reward. You’ll also earn an additional 10% off at all Gap stores for shopping with your Gap card.

Here is an overview of the Gap card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 28.24% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

3. Costco

The biggest advantage of choosing the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is that you’re not just limited to shopping at Costco. You can use the credit card anywhere that Visa is accepted. And with this card, you’ll even start earning the following cash back rewards:

  • 4% on gas for the first $7,000 spent, 1% thereafter
  • 3% on restaurants and travel
  • 2% on all Costco purchases
  • 1% everywhere else

Here is an overview of the Costco anywhere card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 17.24% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

4. Nordstrom

There are two different versions of the credit card offered by Nordstrom. One can only be used at Nordstrom, and the other can be used anywhere. However, if you have bad credit, you’ll most likely have to start with the more limited Nordstrom store credit card.

On the day you sign up, you’ll receive a $40 rebate on a purchase of $100 or more. And for every dollar you spend, you’ll earn three rewards points. For example, once you reach 2,000 points, you’ll receive a $20 off coupon. You’ll also receive early access to Nordstrom sales.

Here is an overview of the Nordstrom store card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: Depends on creditworthiness but could be as high as 25.15% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

5. Kohl’s

Once you’re approved for a Kohl’s credit card, you can take an additional 35% off your first purchase using the card. Plus, you’ll receive an additional coupon for 15% off once your credit card arrives in the mail.

However, there are no purchase rewards with the Kohl’s card. Instead, you’re invited to 12 “special offers” each year. However, these special offers are pretty good because you’ll earn additional discounts between 15% and 30%.

Here is an overview of the Kohl’s credit card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 27.24%
  • Annual Fee: None

6. Macy’s

When you open a Macy’s store credit card, you’ll earn 20% off either the day of or the following day. This is a pretty good discount, but the savings are limited to $100 total.

Macy’s uses a tiered rewards program for its cardmembers. If you spend up to $499 annually, you’ll qualify for Silver status. This will earn you 25% off your purchase with Star Passes.

If you spend $500 or more annually, you’ll earn Gold status. This earns you free shipping and a special birthday offer. And if you spend more than $1,200 annually, you’ll qualify for Platinum status. This earns you 5% cash back on all Macy’s merchandise.

Here is an overview of the Macy’s store card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 27.49% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

7. JCPenney

With the JCPenney credit card, you’ll earn one point for every dollar spent. Once you’ve earned 200 points, you’ll receive a $10 off coupon. Plus, you’ll earn an additional 5% off select merchandise throughout the year.

When you sign up, you will earn a one-time 20% off coupon. However, this is somewhat misleading as you can’t use it on any item in-store. Cardmembers who spend $500 or more a year will earn additional discounts.

Here is an overview of the JCPenney store card:

  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 12-48 months
  • Regular APR: 28.24% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

8. Bloomingdale’s

The Bloomingdale’s store credit card is fairly easy to apply for, and borrowers with fair credit can qualify. However, you’ll need to regularly shop at Bloomingdale’s for the discounts to be worthwhile.

When you sign up, you’ll receive a 15% off coupon that day and the following day for a total of $250 in savings. For most purchases, you’ll receive three points for every dollar spent. But you’ll earn six points for every dollar you spend on shoes, cosmetics, and perfume. So if you regularly purchase those items, this credit card will be beneficial for you.

Here is an overview of the Bloomingdale’s store card:

  • Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 27.24% APR
  • Annual Fee: None

Can store cards be used anywhere or just at the store?

You can only use most store cards at the store that issues the credit card or at stores owned by the same company. However, some store cards you can use anywhere and earn reward points that you can spend at the store. Usually, the store cards you can only use at the store are easier to get approved for if you have bad credit. The store cards that you can use anywhere generally have higher credit score requirements.


As you can see, many of these store cards come with extremely high APRs. The best way to boost your credit score is to use a department store card from banks like Comenity or Synchrony. Then, make occasional small purchases and pay off the balance in full. This will help you avoid paying money in interest or racking up a balance you can’t back pay.

And whatever department store credit card you choose, make sure you educate yourself on the terms and conditions of that card. And make sure you pay your monthly statement on time so you can avoid late fees or getting sent to collections.

Jamie Johnson
Meet the author

Jamie Johnson is a freelance writer who has been featured in publications like InvestorPlace and GOBankingRates. She writes about a variety of personal finance topics including student loans, credit cards, investing, building credit, and more.