The other day, one of my computer monitors broke after years of faithful service. When I went to buy a new one, I had enough cash in my pocket to cover the purchase, but I still paid with a credit card. I always use a credit card whenever I purchase electronics, from game consoles to drones to the laptop I'm typing on now.
That may seem to go against common financial sense, which says you should avoid putting things on credit whenever possible. However, some experts believe electronics are one of the few things you should always buy with a credit card. Why? Well, using the right card for these purchases can get you bonus perks like extended warranties, discounts, and cash rewards. So, what's the catch? We'll explore all the moving parts of this electronics and credit card puzzle below:
Everyone from gamers to graphic designers is under pressure to upgrade their hardware. More than that, we all know how easily a dropped phone can break and set you back hundreds of dollars. As both the lifespan and upgrade cycle between new versions of electronics decreases, people are purchasing new devices more frequently than ever before. That goes for both household and consumer electronics like phones, consumers, and televisions. On top of that, we're becoming more reliant on our devices each day, which means there's a constant need for upgrades.
All these factors lead to new electronics and peripheral companies popping up every day, many of which offer their own credit cards. There are more choices than ever before.
Picking the wrong card could cost you
Pay for your device with the wrong credit card, and you could miss out on a discount or extended warranty for when it breaks, becomes outdated, or gets stolen. If you just consider how easily something as simple as spilling your drink can lead to a destroyed device, you shouldn't use just any old credit card when buying electronics. Everyone shops online where you can't actually see a real product these days, which increases the danger of buying a fake or knockoff device. Again, not picking the right card could leave you without any protection if you end up getting shipped an ePhone when you bought an iPhone.
It's getting harder to choose the best electronics store card.
New electronics hit the store shelves every day as the speed of technology increases. Again, that leads to new electronics stores flooding the market with seemingly attractive credit card offers. All of these cards are competing for wallet space by offering bigger and better rewards. This comes at a price, as some of these cards can charge annual fees exceeding $500 per year. You can't check your email without seeing ads for dozens of different credit cards, each promising special rewards or perks. This range of choice means that there's no perfect card to cover all of your electronics purchases.
Paying with an ordinary credit card or using the wrong store credit card could mean losing out on great deals, discounts, or extended warranties.
By carefully evaluating your choices, you can choose one of the best credit cards for electronic stores that perfectly fits your purchasing habits. You could even have one that gets 5% cash rewards on practical home office purchases like the Staples Personal Credit Card, and one that like the Best Buy Visa Card that lets you finance your expensive home theater equipment. It's easy to do a balance transfer from one card to another.
That means you could start taking advantage of a card's perks immediately. Pick the right card and you could save money, get a great warranty, and take advantage of awesome rewards on your next electronics purchase. Even if you feel overwhelmed with options or don't know which electronics store credit card is best for you, this guide will help you understand your best option.
- They offer rewards like extended warranties, cash back, financing and other perks.
- Rewards for some cards can vanish if they're not used in a predefined time period.
- They tend to have higher than average APR at around 16% and up.
- They often don't feature an intro APR offer for balance transfers.
- Sometimes, these cards require indirect fees or membership payments, like an Amazon Prime subscription, for instance.
- Some stores accept applicants with credit scores from 550+, making these cards good for rehabbing lower credit scores.
- Some cards are only usable at one store.
- They may have a lower credit limit than traditional credit cards ranging from $100+.
These cards are primarily for shoppers at the stores offering them. They help you save money and get better warranties and rewards on your electronics and other items. Yes, it's true that people can also improve their credit scores with store credit cards. Here's how:
Some major credit cards require an excellent credit score. For instance, you'll most likely need a credit score of 750 or higher if you want a card from Barclay. Store credit cards offered by electronics stores and other retailers are generally more accepting of people with lower credit scores. Take Best Buy, who approves customers with credit scores from around 620 and up for its cards, consumers say.
This makes store cards perfect for those rebuilding their credit score. Paying off your monthly balance on a store credit shows lenders you pay what you owe and boosts your overall credit score.
The downside is that these cards usually charge a higher APR than traditional credit cards.
If you're looking for a low interest credit card or are focused on finding a cash reward credit card, consider a bank-issued card like the Chase Freedom card. It provides a solid intro APR offer and a rotating selection of premium cashback rewards.
Save cash by getting the right rewards
Many traditional credit cards offer rewards like cash rewards or airline miles. Where electronics stores differ is that their rewards are often geared towards the store issuing the card. For instance, Best Buy's card offers premium cashback rewards on purchases made in store or on its website. Some store cards come with additional perks. For instance, you can get initial discounts for signing up, special financing on large purchases, and even cash back in your pocketbook.
Keep your bank account healthy by avoiding these common credit card pitfalls
Since store credit cards take on people with lower credit scores, they generally charge higher interest rates than traditional cards. On average store cards offer interest rates that are 6%-7% higher, so they shouldn't be used lightly without a payment strategy in place. Some store cards can only be used at the store that issued them, making them less versatile than traditional cards. Most of these cards don't feature an intro APR or balance transfer offer that regular cards like the Chase Freedom offer. It also carries a lower credit limit than traditional cards, which can negatively impact your credit score.
All of these cards are the same at their core. They all have a set credit line and APR that works like a traditional credit card, though those amounts will vary based on the card and your credit score. Where they differ is in the APR, rewards, and other perks they offer.
How we choose the cards
They're accessible. All of these cards can be applied for online, over the phone, or in store. For those wondering, this is why Fry's Electronics unfortunately didn't make the cut. Their card is only available in stores, and those stores are only in nine states.
The products are available. These stores sell internationally or nationally. They carry a full range of electronics. Even though Gamestop and B&H Photo Video stores offer credit cards, that latter part is why it's not on this list. Gamers and AV fans can find some great deals at these shops, but outside of that, they've got a narrow selection.
They offer high-quality electronics. These cards offer high quality rewards for different electronics shoppers.
They're unique. For instances when two stores offered similar rewards, as was the case with the Staples and Office Depot credit cards, we only highlighted one store for the sake of simplicity.
Now we're definitely not knocking any cards we left out of this guide, and you're of course free to explore your options. For the average consumer though, these are just the cards that will get you the most bang for your purchasing buck.
Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
Amazon already sells everything else, so they may as well offer a credit card. This one features some of the best rewards electronics shoppers can find.
It has history. Amazon began as a humble online bookstore and has grown into one of the largest retailers on the planet. Over the years they've rolled out the Amazon Prime program, which offers free two-day shipping and a rewards credit card that goes with it.
Buy anywhere there's internet. Amazon sells its products on Amazon.com and ships internationally, so just about anywhere as long as you've got an internet connection.
Perfect for Amazon shoppers. Since Amazon offers such a diverse range of products, this card is good for electronics junkies and just about anyone who frequently shops online.
Amazon Prime is the retailer's loyalty program, giving its members free two-day shipping and access to its streaming music and video content. Prime members get the most rewards, earning top-rate cash back on Amazon purchases compared to a lower cashback rate for non-Prime customers.
There's a lot to love about Amazon's card, starting with the $70 gift card cardholders get for signing up. Other perks include:
A great warranty extension. If a product offers a consumer warranty three years or less, paying for it with your Amazon card automatically extends the warranty by another year.
New purchase coverage against damage or theft for 120 days.
Lost luggage reimbursement for travelers. If you book a flight using your Amazon card and the airline misplaces your baggage for over six hours, you can get a stipend for replacement.
Options for financing. Amazon offers an intro APR offer that makes it easier for customers to finance the things they need without paying more than necessary. If you don't pay off the full amount, the APR accrued for that amount of time will come due. Make sure you don't carry a balance or you're in for a pricey shock.
Earn cash back. You get the most cashback rewards on Amazon purchases in categories like restaurants, gas, and drugstores, but you still get some rewards back on everything else.
Get points immediately. Even if you purchase something that costs a dollar, you get points for that dollar. If you're regularly upgrading your computer or always get the newest tablet on the market, you'll rack up a lot of points quick by getting these items on Amazon with their card.
Easily redeem by using "Pay with Points". You can apply your points when checking out on Amazon's website. Alternatively, you could convert them into travel miles, gift cards, or cash through Amazon's partnership with Visa.
Might be bad for your budget. Don't get a card if you're prone to overly expensive shopping binges on Amazon because you'll end up spending even more. Shoppers with an Amazon Prime Rewards card spent 16% more than those without it.
No intro APR. Make your monthly payments on time, or you'll rack up some hefty interest.
No balance transfer offer. That means a balance transfer from another card onto this one will be subject to your variable APR offer. Not a great deal.
Best Buy Visa card
Best Buy is one of the most well-known electronics stores. With its wide array of expensive laptops, desktops, TVs, and other electronics, frequent shoppers can save big with the Best Buy credit card.
From a speaker shop to a nationwide chain. Starting in 1966 with a specialty in audio products, Best Buy has now grown to have 1,026 stores worldwide.
Shop in a store or online. Best Buy stores are located in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China. You can also shop online at their website.
Perfect for Best Buy shoppers. They can save the most with its rewards program.
Even if you only visit Best Buy occasionally, the card's introductory offer makes it worth checking out for those with a big purchase coming up.
Tons of options for earning cash back. Elite Plus members get higher savings than any other card on the list, clocking in at cashback percentages that are among the highest in the credit card marketplace. Non-members earn a substantial cashback rate, as well, that's only marginally lower than the Elite rate. Either way, using the Best Buy Visa rewards shoppers. This includes average cashback rewards at restaurants, grocery stores and an everyday rate on all purchases. The company does run promotions with increased cash back on other categories throughout the year.
Discount on your first purchase. You could save big if you wait to sign up until right before dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Special financing options. Six month financing is available for some purchases and 12-month for others. You can also get 18-month financing on appliance purchases that meet a higher spend threshold, and 24-months on building your home theatre set up if the price is right.
No annual fee. Just sign up and start saving.
High APR. This card charges a an above average interest rate. It's incredibly high, so not making your monthly payments could land you deep in credit card debt.
No APR or balance transfer intro offers. Your balance transfer APR rate applies if you put another card's balance onto this one within the first four months. A fee applies on balance transfers made after that time period.
Low credit limits. Consumers have complained that these cards offered low credit limits. Some were only approved for limits as low as $300, which cuts down on your ability to take advantage of its introductory rewards and save on an expensive purchase.
Target is a go to store for a little bit of everything. The Target REDcard offers a few ways to make your next trip down its electronics aisle cheaper.
A store you recognize. Target first opened in 1962 and has grown into America's second largest discount retail store, right behind Walmart. Its iconic bullseye logo hasn't changed much since its inception and is recognized by 96% of Americans.
Stores galore. Target offers its products in its 1,802 stores throughout the United States as well as on its website.
Perfect for Target shoppers. This card is best suited for frequent Target shoppers who aren't buying big ticket electronics items.
Since the REDcard doesn't offer any financing options, you can't pay off a large purchase like a TV over six or twelve months.
Awesome discount. Some experts (and consumers both!) believe the shopping discount is the Red Card's biggest asset. Since people shop for electronics and everything else at Target, that lowered price can stack up some serious savings—as in $150 every year for someone who spends $250 a month at the store. Just note that it is a discount, not a cashback program. Cardholders save every time they shop, rather than bank in points or cash on your REDcard purchases.
The savings stack. This discount can add up with other savings. This includes coupons and Target's Cartwheel app that offers savings between 5-50%.
Extended return policy. You get an extra 30 days on top of the 90 the store already gives you for most items.
Free online shipping. Using this card also gets you free shipping on most items available on Target.com.
Low required credit score. This is one of the more accessible cards on this list. You're more likely to get it than an Amazon or Best Buy card if your credit is below the 640 mark.
No annual fee. No paying for saving.
Almost too simple. Target's credit card doesn't come with many extra bells and whistles. Aside from the extended return policy and the discount, there's no financing, introductory offers, or extended warranties.
No cash back. This card doesn't offer points or rewards, just a discount. There's no way to bank points and save down the road.
Bad for larger purchases. Since there are no cashback rewards on this card, you can't save up one big chunk of points to apple to a big purchase.
Only works at Target. The Target REDcard is only useable at Target stores or Target.com. That means no opportunities for saving cash on gas or other items like you can with the Walmart and Costco cards.
No intro APR or balance transfer offer. If you already have a primary credit card, this shouldn't be too much of a problem though.
Hard to manage online. Reviews noted some common themes with customers finding it difficult to pay their bills online or over the Target app. There were plenty of complaints about these digital methods freezing or crashing, leaving them unable to cover their balance.
The biggest chain of retail stores in America offers a full range of electronics and other products. If you shop at Walmart often, this card may be right for you.
Here for over 50 years. Walmart started in 1962 and hasn't stopped growing since. The company now has 11,695 stores spread across the world.
Stores everywhere. You can purchase items in Walmart's stores across 28 nations and through its website.
Perfect for credit score rehab. This card is perfect for those whose credit scores may not qualify them for other cards. If you need a card to start rebuilding your credit, this one will work. If you buy everything at Walmart, the cashback rewards the card offers could snag you some serious savings.
There's also financing available for those buying any particularly expensive electronics they plan on paying for over time. If you're on the road quite often, the savings at the pump for Murphy USA and Walmart gas could also ease some strains on your wallet.
Decent intro offer. Just signing up for the card gets you a discount on an introductory purchase from the Walmart website. The offer is fleeting, however. You have to order an item before the end of the month or the offer vanishes.
Cashback rewards. The cashback rewards for this card are geared towards Walmart.com. Any purchases on the website get you a percentage of your purchase back, while using the card anywhere else nets a smaller return.
Save on gas. Using your card to gas up your car at Murphy USA and Walmart stations will also get you cashback.
In-store financing. You can get an APR offer on certain items. The length of the offer depends on the amount of money you are trying to drop.
Accessible for all. The biggest advantage Walmart offers is for applicants with a low credit score. It's a good card to start with if you're building or rebuilding your credit score.
Weak cashback. Compared with the other options on this list, the 1-3% cash back you can expect from this card isn't anything special.
Takes time to earn points. More than that, those rewards only accrue each time you hit a minimum spend on the card.
Points expire. Your rewards points expire, so use them before you lose them.
Low credit limits. A lot of consumers complained about the low credit limits Walmart set on their cards—just a couple hundred in some cases. Since they take on riskier borrowers, the company isn't likely to offer them a large line of credit.
No balance transfer intro offer. You'll always pay for putting another card's balance onto this one.
Costco Anywhere Visa card
You can buy in bulk at Costco, and its credit cards let you save in bulk as well. Its introductory offer makes it a smart deal for people with several electronics purchases coming up.
One big retailer. Costco started in 1983 and has since opened 727 stores. In 2016 the company swapped out its credit card partnership with American Express for one with Citi.
Plenty of locations. Costco has stores in the United States and ten other countries, as well as online at Costco.com.
For those that buy in bulk. Folks who regularly shop at Costco will get the most benefit out of its rewards program. Frequent drivers will also save at the pump with its discounts on gas.
Its introductory offer could make it appealing to people with large upcoming electronics purchases. If you want a card with a low APR for everyday purchases as well, Costco's card has the lowest interest of any card covered in this guide.
Get cash back. Costco's credit card gets you the most cashback on restaurants and travel purchases, then the second best cashback rewards happen on Costco's website and its stores, and an everyday rate applies to all other purchases.
Low interest. The card also comes with super-low (for a store card). That's comparable to the average price of a traditional credit card.
Great intro offer. The signup offer gives you an intro APR offer on all purchases that could help you pay down debt faster.
Requires high credit score. That low APR comes at the price of not accepting people with a lower credit score. You'll need an excellent score in order to qualify for Costco's credit card.
Hard to redeem rewards. What really got consumers the most riled up in the reviews we've read was Costco's inflexible program for redeeming rewards. Any accumulated points only get disbursed once per year in February. That cuts down on your ability to use these points for a new computer monitor that hits store shelves in December.
Members only. You need a Costco membership just to apply for this card, which will cost you. If you don't shop at Costco frequently, that price could outweigh any rewards.
Staples Personal Credit Account
If you sometimes shop at Staples or have a large home electronics purchase coming up, then the Staples Personal Credit Account can help you save some cash.
A long time in the office. Staples started its first store in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986. It has since grown to 1,225 stores in the United States.
Sells about everywhere. You can visit any of its stores in America or shop online internationally at Staples.com.
For the sometimes Staples shopper. This card is almost exclusively useful to people who shop at Staples, but not too much (we'll get to that part in a second.) Its introductory offer and financing options also make it a good choice for those with a big electronics expense for their office coming up.
Great intro discount.
Welcome to the loyalty program. Signing up for this card also puts you into the top tier of Staples' loyalty program, which offers cash back, free shipping on Staples.com, and a nominal credit for every ink or toner cartridge you recycle at the store. While small, it's still free money.
Financing offers. You can also get an APR financing offer for large purchases using your Staples card. Like the Walmart card, the terms of the offer depend on the size of the purchase.
No annual fee.
Not a real rewards program. There's a reason why it's unnecessary for people who regularly shop at Staples to get this card: It doesn't offer a real rewards program. Though the website advertises that you get cash back, this reward actually comes from the Staples loyalty program, not the card. Signing up for the card automatically bumps you up to Premier status in their loyalty program, which is geared at those willing to drop more than a grand at the store.
Beat by other cards. This loyalty program offers cashback in rewards on Staples purchases. If you're spending that much at the store anyways, you're better off paying with another card and getting even more cash back.
Only usable at Staples. While the store does have a good supply of office electronics, its selection of personal or entertainment devices is narrow.
High APR. One of the biggest thing holding the Staples card back is its APR. With an above average APR percentage, it's not doing this card any favors. Yikes!
No intro APR. Since this is a store card, there's also no option for a balance transfer from an existing card.
Some customer service concerns. Some Staples cardholders reported that the company offers very poor customer service for its accounts, and a few noted difficulties getting refunds after returning items they had bought with the card.
According to our research, the six cards outlines above are the best store cards for electronics purchases. Even so, they don't come without their pitfalls. Perhaps some of these cards are great choices for people with a low credit score and limited options. However, if you are rocking a Good or Excellent credit score, choosing the right card for your electronics purchase may mean thinking outside the retail big box.
I'm talking about cashback cards, like Chase Freedom, that will allow you to make the most of your purchases, giving you the best in intro APR offers and cashback rewards. Think about it. Why not get the best of both worlds? Regardless of which choice you make, there is a credit card out there for you, and getting your name on it may be as simple as applying. What are you waiting for?