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Be Store Card Smart 21 December 2004

Are you STORE CARD smart?

Buying a new outfit for a Christmas Party or excitedly awaiting the new year (or even the pre- Christmas) sales? You may find the offer of a store card - often with a discount on your first purchase - very tempting. But do you know what you will be taking on.

The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading offers the following tips on making sure that you are "Store Card Smart".

Before signing up for a store card remember:

  1. An initial discount may be a good deal - but it will depend on how quickly you pay off the balance.
  2. Be APR (annual percentage rate) wise - just how much will you pay on an un-cleared balance?
  3. Is there an interest-free period? When does it end and what will the interest rate be afterwards?
  4. Check all details of the agreement - APR, interest free period, penalties for default and late payment - and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Remember to consider carefully the costs and benefits of any Payment Protection Insurance (to cover serious illness or redundancy) offered. It is optional and will cost you money.
  6. Compare with other ways to pay - store card rates are often much higher than those of other credit cards.
  7. A store card can be a serious credit commitment for which you may need to budget.
  8. Beware of pushy sales staff and don't be lured into taking out a store card you don't want.
  9. There is no need to sign on the spot - if in doubt, take the agreement away, read it and seek advice on it before you sign.
  10. If you get into payment difficulties, don't panic! Talk to the lender as soon as possible.

Finally, if you require advice on how to budget or manage your debts contact the Debt Counsellors at the Office of Fair Trading on 686510.

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