Dive Brief:

  • Three quarters (74%) of Americans have had a store credit card — and nearly half (47%) of them regret it, according to research from CompareCards.com by LendingTree. The study looked into the store cards of 50 major U.S. retail chains.
  • Most of the cards in the study had sign-up enticements, but their average annual percentage rate (APR) was a steep 24.97%, and their fine print contained other conditions less consumer friendly than non-store credit cards, according to the report. A full 88% of special financing terms (a big draw especially for younger consumers) included deferred high interest.
  • The holidays have some opportunity for retailers to add more store card holders: While half of Americans say they’re “highly unlikely” to apply for a store card this holiday season, 24% said they’re at least somewhat likely to, according to the report.

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Store credit cards can be lucrative for retailers in three basic ways: they corral customers into a stickier base, they provide data about those loyal customers’ purchases and responses to marketing, and they’re a stream of revenue in their own right.

The last is thanks in part to the steep interest rates and other terms of most such cards. Two-thirds of Americans are aware that retailer…