[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Hey there, techies. By now, there’s a good chance during your quest to get the latest gadget, gizmo or thingamabob your path has invariably crossed with a Best Buy credit card application. But whether you should sign up or not depends entirely on you. Store-branded rewards credit cards, in general, are best suited to very frequent shoppers who also happen to pay their balances off in full each month. Otherwise, you’ll lose all those rewards and then some to interest.
Beyond that, there’s more than one Best Buy credit card out there — and which one might be right for you depends on your needs and overall spending habits. In this Best Buy credit card review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each version to help you decide if you should apply.
The Pros & Cons of a Best Buy Credit Card
Here’s the good news about store credit cards: They generally have less stringent underwriting requirements than a traditional credit card. That means that you’ll likely qualify for one with less-than-perfect credit — and could potentially use it to rebuild your scores. (You can see where you currently stand by viewing two of your credit scores on Credit.com.) But it also explains why these cards typically carry higher annual percentage rates (APRs) and lower credit limits. The riskier you appear, the more insurance the issuer is going to pack into your terms and conditions.
Best Buy’s plastic line is no exception when it comes to APRs. While each version of the Best Buy credit card requirements include special financing options (more on that in a minute), the standard purchase APR on its Best Buy Credit Card, My Best Buy Visa Gold and My Best Buy Visa Platinum is a variable 26.74%. That’s on the high side when you consider the low end of most general purpose APR ranges runs between 11% and 15%. Now, you can opt for a number of promotional financing deals that will let you purchase items and pay no interest for a set period of time. We say “opt” because that’s how Best Buy’s credit cards work: Applicants are given the choice between deferred interest or rewards.
Assessing the Deferred Interest Offers
Deferred-interest deals can be helpful if you need to make a big in-store purchase you can’t afford to pay off right away. (It basically buys you time to revolve, or carry, a balance without incurring interest.) And in-store financing offers provide a certain level of convenience, because, you know, you can get them in the store. However, you’ve got to be really careful here: Many retailers stipulate in the fine print of their deferred-interest offers that you’re responsible for retroactive interest at your standard purchase APR if you don’t pay the charges off by the time the promotional financing window expires. (Here’s a quick explanation on how credit card interest is calculated.)
Best Buy advertises three standard deferred-interest offers on its website:
- Six-month financing on store wide purchases totaling $199-$398
- 12-month financing on store wide purchases totaling $399 and up
- 18-month financing on major appliance and Geek Squad purchases totaling $599 and up
- 24-month financing on home theater and Geek Squad purchases totaling $799 and up
Per its pricing details, all three offers — plus a variety of others — are subject to retroactive interest. That means if you’re even a little unsure about paying off, say, that new refrigerator within those 18 months, you’re probably better off opting for a traditional credit card touting a low-to-no introductory APR. These cards can have retroactive clauses in them, too, though they’re decidedly less prevalent. Plus, you could secure a longer window to pay that purchase off and, at the very least, if you fail to do so, the go-to APR will likely be lower — particularly if your credit is in good shape.
Consider, for instance, the Citi Simplicity Card, which offers an introductory APR of 0%* for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers* and a go-to APR between 15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable), depending on creditworthiness. Better yet: After the promotional period ends, only the unpaid portion of the introductory balance will have the standard APR applied to it. Read: No retroactive interest. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as Discover, Chase and Capital One, advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Rating the Rewards Program
On the flip side, the Best Buy cards’ rewards programs stack up against other store credit cards and could prove worthwhile for frequent best buyers (again, so long as you pay your balance off in full). That’s particularly true when it comes to the Best Buy Visa Cards, which, unlike store-bound My Best Buy Credit Cards, can be used anywhere Visa is accepted and tout rewards on purchases outside the electronics chain. Here’s a quick breakdown of each card’s major terms.
My Best Buy Credit Card
Rewards Details: Cardholders can earn 5% back on Best Buy purchases. Best Buy Elite Plus loyalty program members can earn 6% back on their purchases. New applicants can choose to get 10% back in rewards or financing on their first purchase when they are approved for a Best Buy Credit Card.
Annual Fee: $0
My Best Buy Visa Card
Rewards Details: The same base rewards program and signup bonus apply, but cardholders also earn 3% back in rewards through June 2018 on eligible travel purchases as well as gas purchases, 2% on grocery and dining out purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee: None
Getting 5% back is a nice return as far as rewards credit cards go — as is the additional cash back you can get on eligible grocery and dining out purchases with the Visa versions. But how lucrative that pans out to be depends on how often you shop at the electronics chain. That might also affect how much perks like paying your bill in-store and smoother checkout on BestBuy.com will mean to you. Remember, not only are you earning the most rewards on Best Buy purchases, you’re also redeeming your rewards for certificates you can use only at its stores or websites. And, while rewards don’t technically expire, they will automatically disperse as reward certificates in $5 increments if you don’t use your account for 12 consecutive months — meaning, as Best Buy explains on its website, if you’ve earned 300 points, you’ll get a $5 reward certificate (250 points) and you’ll forfeit the remaining 50.
If your spending is more mercurial and your credit is good, there are general-purpose rewards credit cards that offer 5% cash back in up to $1,500 in purchases made in rotating quarterly categories, like the Discover it or Chase Freedom. And if you don’t want to worry which card in your wallet will earn the most rewards at any given time, there are rewards cards that offer a competitive (and unlimited) 1.5% cash back on all purchases, like the Capital One Quicksilver card.
At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Discover it, Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
This article has been updated. It was originally published February 15, 2017.