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 the credit cards you can get approved for typically won’t have the most favorable terms and rates. Many of these credit cards offer no sign-up bonuses and have 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?

Most department store credit cards will boost your credit score the same as any other credit card. This is because the payment history is report to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. And if you’re in the process of rebuilding your credit history, 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 department store credit cards, the next step is choosing the credit card that’s right for you. Listed below are eight department store cards you might consider.

1. Dillard’s

If you have at least fair credit, you have a good chance of being approved for a Dillard’s card. However, you still may have a chance of approval even with poor credit.

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. With the Gap card, 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% cashback 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

What is a department store card?

A department store card is a type of credit card that can typically only be used at the store that offers it. It is similar to a regular credit card in that it can be used to make purchases.

Many retailers offer these cards as a way to reward their frequent customers with extra perks, such as cash back or rebates when they use the card. Additionally, some stores may alert cardholders to upcoming sales and discounts.

How do department store cards work?

Department store credit cards operate in the same way as traditional credit cards, but with some key differences. These cards have a set credit limit as well as the option to pay in full at a later date or over time with interest.

Most store cards are unsecured, but some retailers offer secured credit cards as well. Open-loop store cards are available, but they are usually harder to qualify for and require good or better credit.

Department store cards differs from American Express, Visa, or Mastercard cards in that balance transfers are not an option. Additionally, the interest rate on these cards should be taken into consideration when choosing one, as they can make the amount to be paid much higher than the original purchase price.

What are the benefits of getting a store card?

One benefit of department store credit cards is the potential for discounts. Many department stores offer exclusive discounts and promotional offers to cardholders.

These discounts can range from a percentage off the total purchase to free shipping or even storewide sales. Additionally, cardholders may be eligible for special rewards programs, such as cash back on purchases or discounts at affiliated stores.

As mentioned, store credit cards can also be a useful for establishing and rebuilding credit. Many department store credit cards report to the major credit bureaus, allowing customers to build credit over time. This can help customers get approved for better loans and other forms of credit in the future.

However, since it can only be used to make purchases with the company that issued it, it may not offer the same convenience as other credit cards for bad credit.

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.

Typically, 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.

What’s the difference between an open-loop credit card and a closed-loop credit card?

An open-loop card is a card that can be used anywhere that a major credit card such as Visa or Mastercard is accepted. A closed-loop card is a card that can only be used at specific locations, such as a store or restaurant chain.


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.

Whatever department store credit card you choose, make sure you educate yourself on the terms and conditions of that card. Make sure you pay your monthly statement on time so you can avoid late fees or getting sent to collections. If you’re unable to get approved for store credit cards, check out these secured credit cards.

Jamie Johnson
Meet the author

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