1996 Free Retail Credit Card Survey


PLEASE NOTE: This 1996 publication is not current, and should be used only as historical information.

Note: Consumer Action's surveys are intended solely for the use of reporters and individuals to whom they are sent. Nothing in the survey may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose.

Retail Card Tips

  • Ask about the interest rate before signing up for a retail credit card. If the rate is not disclosed on the application, call the financial institution issuing the card-don't rely on store salespeople for the information.
  • If you have a lower rate bank card and know that you won't pay off your purchase immediately, use it instead of your retail card.
  • When taking advantage of the 10 percent discount typically offered to consumers who open an "instant credit" account, apply it to a large purchase. But remember that if you don't pay it off quickly, the discount will be eaten away by interest in a few months.
  • If you buy items on sale and then carry the cost on a card, the interest will quickly wipe out the savings from the lower sale price.
  • If you cannot qualify for a bank card, you may find it easier to obtain credit from a retailer. But note that some retailers who offer accounts to people with no credit history charge higher interest rates for the privilege.
  • Watch out for "0% financing" offers. While no interest is charged before a certain date, the entire balance must be paid before that time or else interest will be added to the balance on the cut-off date-retroactive to the time of purchase. For example, a recent advertisement for an electronics superstore offered a 12-month grace period on its card's 22.9% interest rate. However, if you charged $1,000 worth of goods and made no payments, you would owe about $1,230 at the end of a year.

PLEASE NOTE: Neither CA's surveys nor its interpretation of survey results may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purposes. CA will take all steps necessary to prevent commercial use of its surveys or name.

Notes for the table

V = APR varies by state

* = Special rate for 'credit risks'

Store Annual Percentage Rate
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. 22.8%    
Ann Taylor 8%-21% V  
Barneys New York 18%-19.8% V  
Best Buy 22.65%    
Bloomingdale's 21.6%    
Bon Ton Stores 18%-21% V  
Breuners 17.88%-19.8% V  
Burdine's 21.6%    
Carson Pirie Scott 19.8%-21.6% V  
Circuit City 22.05%   * 24%
Dayton's 19.8%-21.6% V  
Dillard's 19.8%    
Elder Beerman 19%-21% V  
Elisabeth 19.8%    
Famous Barr 21.6%    
Filene's 18%-21% V  
Foley's 21%    
Fred Meyers 22.4%    
Goldsmiths 21%    
Gottschalks 21.6%    
Hecht's 10%-21.6% V  
Henri Bendel 21.6%    
Home Depot 18%-19.8% V  
HomeBase 20.25%-20.65% V  
Hudson's 19.8%-21.6% V  
Ikea 21.6%    
Incredible Universe 18%-22.6% V * 24.6%
JC Penney 9.96%-21% V  
K-Mart 21.4%    
Kaufmann's 18%-21.6% V  
Lane Bryant 22.8%    
Lazarus 21.6%    
Lerner 22.8%    
Limited/Express/Structure 22.8%    
Lord & Taylor 18%-21.6% V  
Macy's 18%-21.6% V  
Marshall Field 21%-21.6% V  
Meier & Frank 18%-21% V  
Mervyn's 21%    
Montgomery Ward 18%-22.6% V * 26%
Neiman Marcus 10%-21% V  
Nordstrom 18%-19.8% V  
Office Depot 18%-20.55% V  
Parisian 18%-21% V  
Patchington 18%-21% V  
Pier 1 Imports 10.25%-21% V  
Price-Costco 18.15%    
Proffitt's/McCrae's/Younkers 21%    
Radio Shack 18%-22.6% V * 24.6%
Rich's 21.6%    
Robinson-May 21.6%    
Saks Fifth Avenue 10.25%-21.6% V  
Sears 21%    
Spiegel 22.6%    
Stern's 21.6%    
Talbots 8%-21% V  
Target 21%-21.6% V  
The Bon Marche 21.6%    
The Good Guys 22.9%    
Tiffany & Co. 10.25%-18% V  
Victoria's Secret 22.8%    
Zales Jewelers 8%-21% V  



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