My mom grabbed a few things she needed, like lightbulbs and air filters, when she was at Home Depot. The employee greeted us with a smile.

She gave my mom the chance to open a Home Depot credit card and receive $25 off her purchase, nearly offsetting the price of my mom's entire cart. My credit card instincts went crazy when my mom reached for the application. There was no one opening a store credit card with a bonus.

Credit cards are usually a bad idea.

It is easy to fall for an in-store credit card sales pitch during the holiday season. If you apply for a card at the store, they will give you a discount. There are a lot of reasons not to open a store credit card. There are shopping tricks that can give you a big discount without the need for a credit check.


If you are going to open a new card, you should choose a rewards credit card. The miles, points, and cash back you get with these cards can be much more than a one-time discount. Valuable sign up bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars in cash back, or thousands of dollars in free travel. Their benefits can provide a lot of value over time.

Why store cards may be bad for your credit score

A good credit score is important to everyone. Banks use this metric to determine your creditworthiness when you apply for a loan for a car, a home mortgage, or a credit card. Some people don't realize the factors that go into calculating credit scores. It is important that you pay your card balances in full each month because of the payment history.

30% of your credit score is related to your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of card balances divided by your total available credit.


The credit limit on a store credit card is usually less than the amount of your purchase. You could get a $3,000 credit limit if you spend $1,000. Your credit utilization score is often calculated as your amounts owed compared to your entire line of credit, but your per-card utilization is also taken into account. Your credit score could be negatively impacted by the utilization ratio for your new account card.

It is best to keep your credit utilization low. I have to pay off large purchases quickly if I want to stay below 3%. Paying off your balance before the billing cycle ends is a good idea.

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How does credit utilization ratio affect your credit score?

Use shopping portals and rewards cards discount offers at your favorite retailers

You don't need a store credit card to shop. Online shopping portals can be used to earn tons of bonus miles, points or cash back at a lot of popular retailers. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday week, we have seen 15% cash back (or 15 Amex points per dollar) through Rakuten on many popular retailers.

Most airlines, hotels, and banks have shopping portals to help you earn rewards when shopping online. You can shop online and pick up your purchases in the store. These portals can be used to earn rewards for purchases.

To find out how to maximize online shopping portals, read our guide.

Amex offers are souped-up coupons that can be used to earn bonus points or save money on purchases. Deals like 20,000 bonus points, 10% discounts on popular retailers, and $100-plus statement credits are included in the offers. If you combine an offer with other coupons, you can get more savings.

Here are some of my current Amex Offers. AMERICAN EXPRESS

Learn how to stack multiple deals in our guide to maximizing holiday purchases by Bookmarking our Amex offers page.

Bottom line

If you want to get the same savings, use shopping portals or rewards cards.

You can always check our best credit card offers page to find better alternatives. Some travel and cash-back credit cards come with no annual fee after you meet minimum spending requirements. The payoff can be much, much better if you earn these bonuses.

Our guide to sign up bonuses of more than 100,000 points is updated frequently. You can get hundreds of dollars in cash or thousands of dollars in travel from those bonuses. There are welcome offers on some of the most revered cards on the market.