Not so long ago, you could obtain a lot of store credit cards through a soft credit pull. A soft pull is a brief look at your credit that does not affect your credit score. More recently, however, you can pre-qualify for most store credit cards with a soft pull, but to actually issue the card, the store will do a hard pull. One hard pull will affect your credit score for a short time. However, if you apply for a lot of cards at the same time, it will be a red flag that you're desperate for credit, and that will have a more prolonged impact on your score.

Can You Get A Store Credit Card with A Soft Pull?

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Is it still possible to get a store credit card with just a soft credit pull? Unfortunately, no. But, there are still some relatively painless ways to find out if you might be able to get a card from a particular store. Some stores will do a soft pull to let you try to prequalify for their card. If you want to find out about several cards, find one with the credit score you need for all the ones you might want and try to prequalify for it. If you get a pre-approval, you can be fairly sure you'll get whichever card you apply for; just don't apply for them all. Applying for a lot of cards at one time can have an adverse affect on your credit since it makes you look desperate.

Store credit cards are cards that can usually only be used at the store that issued them or sometimes with an affiliate. That is, for example, you used to be able to use a Sears card to make a purchase at KMart. The store works with a bank to offer the card and gives its customers credit that can only be used in their store. The advantage to you is that often retailers will make special exclusive offers to their cardholders.

Store credit cards are often offered at the point of sale with a promotional discount on that initial purchase. This is a live action version of the shopping cart trick (which we're going into more details later in this post), except that since they will give you a card if you pass, it's a hard pull. Store credit cards usually have higher interest rates and lower credit limits than credit cards for use anywhere.

What Are the Easiest Store Credit Cards to Get?

The easiest cards to get are those that you can only use in the store that issues them (closed loop) - or sometimes also in a related store, like Old Navy and the Gap. These two are also fairly easy to qualify for with a minimum 630 credit score. We suggest some other cards you might want to consider below. Some stores offer both a store only card and a general credit card (open loop). The latter always takes a higher credit score. Again, we talk about some of these below.

what-are-the-easiest-store-cards-to-get

What Store Credit Cards Are Easy to Get with Fair-Bad Credit?

Department stores often offer their own credit cards, which are frequently easier to get than a standard bank-offered Visa or Mastercard. Most store credit cards will let you determine if you qualify with a soft pull but remember, they will generally require a hard pull before issuing the card. Unfortunately, none of the bigger stores still use the shopping cart trick; lists of the merchants that still do use it are accessible by the bank links in the Shopping Cart section below. Some of the cards which are relatively easy to get with bad credit include:

Gap Good Rewards Mastercard® Credit Cards

Gap Good Rewards Mastercard® Credit Cards

Ideal for the Gap enthusiast, Gap Visa gives cardholders 5% rewards on purchasers in-store and online at the Gap. You can also earn points at locations including Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. You also receive 20% off on the first purchase within 90 days of activation. You gather points for registering your email address and enrolling in online billing. Discounts can be combined with store promotions for even more significant savings. There is no annual fee. Gap purchases earn 5% and others 1%. The Gap Store Card requires a score of around 630, while the Gap VISA is closer to 700. Gap uses a soft pull to pre-qualify for its card. The Gap Store Card can only be used at Gap and certain affiliates like Old Navy. 

Pros
  • Can be used at both Gap and Old Navy
  • High rewards
  • No annual fee
  • 30 to qualify
  • Soft pull prequalification
Cons
  • Store card only usable at Gap and affliates

IKEA® Visa® Credit Card

IKEA® Visa® Credit Card

Cardholders are about $250 per year in rewards, on top of automatic participation in the IKEA Family program that offers price protection. Holders earn cash back from IKEA and participating restaurants, utilities, and supermarkets. There is no annual fee; rewards range from 1% to 5%. The best chances for approval are at a credit rating of 670 or above. IKEA does use a soft pull for pre-approval, and the card is a general Visa usable anywhere. 

You may also like:
5 Online Furniture Stores That Offer Credit Cards and Financing

Pros
  • Uses a soft pull pre-approval
Cons
  • Requires a 670 credit rating

Lowe's® Advantage Credit Card

Lowe's® Advantage Credit Card

Lowe's Advantage cardholders get discounts on purchases at Loew and a 20% sign-up bonus on their first buy. Special financing options also make this a desirable card. With 6-month, 12-month, and 84-month financing packages available on some purchases, people can pay off significant purchases at their own speed. Annual rewards average around nearly $200; there is no annual fee, and the discount is 5% for Lowe's purchases.

The required credit rating is 640 or better. Lowe's does offer a soft pull pre-approval; if you accept the offer, it will affect your credit score and the card can only be used at Lowe's. Lowe's store card is offered by Synchrony Bank, one of three banks where the shopping cart trick still works. 

Pros
  • Shopping cart trick
  • 640 credit score
Cons
  •  Can only be used at Lowes

Bed Bath & Beyond® Welcome Rewards™ Mastercard® Credit Cards

Bed Bath & Beyond® Welcome Rewards™ Mastercard® Credit Cards

This card has a lower starting interest rate than many store cards and offers the chance to earn nearly $300 in rewards annually. Holders start getting reward certificates at 1,000 points, and they never expire. Rewards range from 5% to 1%. A credit score of 640 is necessary to get the card. The store does not offer a soft pull pre-approval or the shopping cart trick. 

Pros
  • Lower interest rate, high rewards available
  • 640 credit score
Cons
  • No soft pull, no shopping cart trick

Macy's Credit Cards

Macy's Credit Card
Macy's Credit Card Learn More

If you are a frequent Macy's shopper, their American Express Card is a perfect store credit card. Rewards from many types of purchases quickly accrue redeemable points and rewards. You can earn 20% of your purchases for the first two days you have the card, and the average annual reward is more than $250. Points are good for two years and can be redeemed at many other retailers through the Plenti rewards program.

There is no annual fee, and rewards range from 1% to 3%; 1,000 points give an award of $10 in Star Money. For the Store Card, you need a credit rating of 640 or better, while the AmEx requires 700 or better.

The AmEx is a general card that can be used anywhere; the store card is only good at Macy's. Macy's does not provide a soft pull pre-approval. On the other hand, they will give you an immediate yes or no for your application. 

Pros
  • Higher and fast rewards
  • 640 credit score
  • Immediate yes or no
Cons
  • No shopping cart trick, no soft pull pre-approval

You may also be interested in reading:
5 Online Jewelry Stores Offering Credit Cards & In-Store Finance

Menards® BIG Card® Credit Card

Menards® BIG Card®

The BIG Card® is aimed at people who prioritize their home improvement projects. They also offer sign-up bonuses, including some lower-rate financing. The BIG Card® allows buyers to combine rewards with discounts for more significant savings both in-store and online. There is no ceiling on total rewards and no annual fees; rewards range from 1% to 2%. The required credit rating is 640 or better, but the store looks at your entire financial picture. Menards® does not offer a soft pull pre-qualification. The card can only be used at Menards®.

Pros
  • High rewards
  • Requires 640 but also looks at your complete credit profile
Cons
  • No soft pull pre-approval and can only be used at Menards®

Best Buy® Credit Cards

Best Buy® Credit Cards

Best Buy offers many rewards and discounts to shoppers holding this card. Some of these are even better than those given to Best Buy Elite Plus members, so it's a good card for those who frequently shop for electronics.

Shoppers earn, on average, more than $500 in reward points using this card. The points don't expire as long as you use the card at least once a year. They can't be earned on your sales tax, but they can make a current Best Buy promotion an even better deal. There is no annual fee, and rewards range from 1% to 6%, depending on what is purchased and whether you are an ElitePlus member. For the Visa® card, you'll need a credit score of 660 to 699; for the store card, you can qualify with fair credit.

Best Buy does use a soft pull for pre-approval on both cards. The Best Buy Visa® is a general credit card, but the store card can only be used at Best Buy. 

Pros
  • Rewards are high and don't usually expire
Cons
  • No shopping cart trick, no soft pre-approval

Old Navy Store Credit Card

Old Navy Store Credit Card

Essentially identical to the Gap store card, the Old Navy store card takes a credit score of 630 or above. The Old Navy Visa Card takes a score of 700 or better. The store will do a soft pull pre-qualification. The downside is that you can only use this card at Old Navy and certain affiliates, like the Gap. 

Pros
  • Can be used at all affiliated stores including Gap
  • Only requires 630 credit score
  • Does use a soft pull pre-qualification
Cons
  • Only usable at Old Navy and affiliates

Is there a Way to Apply for a Store Credit Card Without Affecting Credit Score?

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Since actually applying for even a store credit card will take a hard pull impacting your credit score at least for a few weeks or months, you may want to try another, sneakier, but legit tactic:

The Shopping Cart Trick

You can find out if you pre-qualify for a store's credit line by placing items in the shopping cart and waiting for an offer to pre-qualify. If you go through the pre-approval process, the store will have done a soft pull and let you know whether it's worth your effort to apply for the card itself ( resulting in a hard pull).

Does The Shopping Cart Trick Still Work?

One place where this shopping cart trick still works is the dozens of Comenity Bank cards covering merchants like :

  • Big Lots
  • Gardner-White
  • Forever 21
  • DSW
  • David's Bridal
  • Land's End
  • Lane Bryant
  • Orbitz
  • Pottery Barn
  • Restoration Hardware, and many more. 

Wells Fargo also offers a much smaller group of shopping cart trick cards, while Synchrony Bank sponsors even more than Comenity where the trick still applies.

Alternatives to Store Credit Cards for Those with Bad Credit

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Store credit cards aren't your only option for using a credit card to rebuild your credit. Here are some options you might want to consider:

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you believe that you cannot enjoy the benefits of a card with rewards just because you have a fair credit score... you're wrong! This Capital One credit card is a top notch option for those with fair to good credit scores (580 - 740) since its generous rewards program that offers 1.5% unlimited cash back on regular purchases plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Cash rewards don't expire.

The card has a $39 annual fee and a variable APR of 26.99%.

First PREMIER® Bank Gold Credit Card

First PREMIER® Bank Gold Credit Card

This card offers a card to people with Bad to Fair (300 to 620) credit - although it expressly does not guarantee an issue to anyone. The card provides a mobile app that allows the cardholder to keep track of spending and payments. There may be an annual fee, and the interest rate will be fairly high.

You may also want to read:
Top 5 Unsecured Credit Cards for 400-500 Credit Scores

PREMIER Bankcard® Secured Credit Card

PREMIER Bankcard® Secured Credit Card

For those with really poor credit, this card offers the option to place a deposit to cover the credit limit. If the first six minimum monthly payments are made on time, the cardholder will receive an offer for an unsecured card. This offer is not available to residents of New York, Wisconsin, or others covered under the Military Lending Act. Acceptable credit ranges from 300 to 620, and there will be an annual fee.

First Access Visa® Credit Card

First Access Visa® Credit Card

This credit card is unsecured and is available with a credit rating ranging from 300 to 680. There is a $300 credit limit, and expedited processing is available for an additional fee. On-time payments are reported monthly to all three major credit bureaus.

FIT Mastercard® Credit Card

FIT Mastercard® Credit Card

The lender accepts applications with credit as low as 300 and offers an initial credit limit of $400.00. If the first six payments are made on time, the credit limit doubles to $800.00. A fast, instant decision application process is available, but you must have a checking account. There is an annual fee.

Secured Credit Cards

There is a small group of secured "soft pull" credit cards. They are soft pull because you must put down a deposit for the amount of your credit limit ($200 minimum for each) and top it off every month. In other words, you can get these cards with a soft pull because the issuer has no risk. They all report to the bureaus every month, so timely payments will help build your credit. Among these are:

First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

Conclusion

Even store credit cards aren't as easy to get as they used to be. But, if you're trying to rebuild your credit, the stores the use soft pulls and the shopping cart trick can help guide you toward cards that you might be able to use. If those don't work, the low credit cards and secured cards can help you establish enough credit to start to climb the credit ladder again. Whatever card you send up getting, consistent on-time payments are the best route back to access to good credit cards.

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To find all the details about the terms and conditions of an offer, check the online credit card application. We put a lot of effort to present you accurate and up-to-date information; however, we do not guarantee the accuracy of all credit card information presented.

Editorial Disclosure: All reviews/opinions expressed here are author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser included within our content. The information presented on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned below may have expired. Check the issuer's website for the most recent information.

The responses below are not provided, commissioned, reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any financial entity or advertiser. It is not the advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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