Can you use store credit cards anywhere?

macys-credit-cardMore and more these days we are seeing department stores and other retail stores offering multiple credit card options, often with certain cards offering greater rewards if you use them outside of the store whose name is on the front of the card. It is not surprising, then, that some people get confused by what they can actually do with their store credit cards — are they only good at the store or can I use them anywhere that takes credit?

Here is the quick way to figure it out: if your store credit card has an American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa logo on it, then you can use the card just about anywhere credit is accepted. If it does not have one of those logos on the front, then you can only use the card at the department store / retail store where you got it.


An example: Walmart offers 2 types of credit cards — a store-only card and a Walmart MasterCard. The store card can only be used at Walmart stores or online at Walmart.com. The Walmart MasterCard, on the other hand, can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

(Not to confuse the issue, but sometimes store cards can be used at multiple retail chains owned by the same company — for example, Walmart store credit cards can actually be used at the Walmart-owned Sam’s Club as well.)

Other stores have similar situations: Macy’s has a store-only card and a Macy’s American Express. Best Buy has a store-only credit card and a MasterCard. Same for Toys R Us. Nordstrom has a store-only card and a Visa card. Same with Gap. And so on.

Bottom line: check your card. If you see a logo from one of the Big 4 — MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover — then the card is good at any retailer that accepts those types of cards. If there’s no logo, the card is only good at the store chain where you got it.

See also: Cash Rebate Credit Cards, Instant Approval Credit Cards, 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards