Beware when signing up for credit cards at checkout
Here's some cautionary advice from CreditCards.com: Those retail store credit cards often carry much higher interest rates versus the average bank card.
CreditCards.com Analyst Ted Rossman says "consumers really need to be careful of the interest rates that these cards charge."
He says many retail store credit card rates can get up to 30 percent unless you pay off the balance by month's end. Rossman says a store credit card might work in a few select circumstances, such as discounts on large purchases.
"A lot of us this holiday season will be offered a retail card at checkout. The cashier might say, 'Hey! Do you want to save 10 percent off today's purchase? Sign up for our card.' You need to beware that these cards charge really high interest rates."
The CreditCards.com survey also revealed:
— Store-only cards have an average APR of 27.73 percent. Co-branded retail cards have an average APR of 23.06 percent.
— Half of all Americans have applied for retail store credit cards, with 94 million of them saying they followed the impulse at checkout.
Rossman also warns consumers to beware of "deferred interest," because the store may go back to charging full interest and some at the end of the deferral.
"Deferred interest is when they say zero percent for six months, or 12 months or something like that. When store cards do that, it is a sneaky policy called deferred interest, meaning that if you have anything left at the end of the term, they are going to go back from the very beginning, and charge you full interest on the full amount."