Why the Target REDCard Is One of the Best Store Cards Around

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While store-branded credit cards won't earn you miles that you can use towards your next vacation, some can save you significant amounts of money on your day-to-day spending, and in the case of the Target REDCard, even on certain hotel bookings.

The Basics

The Target REDCard has no annual fee, and is somewhat unique in that it's available both as a traditional credit card, and also as a debit card that draws directly from your bank account, and doesn't require a credit pull to sign up. Unfortunately, the REDCard doesn't have a traditional welcome offer, but sometimes offers special sign-up incentives like bonus coupons.

Simply put, whenever you shop at Target, this is the card to pay with. You'll get an instant 5% discount on nearly everything Target sells at checkout, including brands like Apple and Sonos that are usually excluded from promotions. And unlike most credit cards, you're not getting 5% cash back at the end of your billing cycle; you're getting an actual 5% cash discount, taken right at the register in real time.

That discount also applies to purchases on Target.com, where you'll also get free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items. I've often found that certain consumer packaged goods are cheaper at Target than they are on Amazon, and with the REDCard, I can get them delivered just as quickly.

Perks

In addition to your 5% discount and free shipping, anything you purchase with your REDCard at Target will automatically have its return window extended by 30 days. Most Target purchases have 90 day return policies (if unopened), but some brands' policies are shorter, and the REDCard extends nearly all of them.

This is a store-branded card, so you'd expect the perks to be limited to Target purchases, but the REDCard does have one interesting, under the radar benefit: 10% off Hotels.com bookings. Not all hotel brands participate, and it only applies to prepaid bookings and not bookings where you pay at the hotel, but it's still a potentially lucrative bonus for a card with no annual fee. Best of all, you don't actually have to pay for the hotel with your REDCard, you just have to have one. That means you can score the 10% discount, but still pay with a card that will earn you bonus points and insurance protections like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Platinum Card from American Express.

But my favorite feature of the card is that I don't actually have to add it to my wallet. You can sync your REDCard to the Target app on your phone, and use it to pay digitally in any Target checkout line. For anyone suffering from wallet bloat, this is a very welcome benefit.

Why Apply?

If you shop at Target, the REDCard is one of the most compelling store-branded cards around. It doesn't have an annual fee, and if you don't want to have your credit pulled, you can even get a debit card version. In return, you'll save 5% instantly on almost everything Target sells, get free shipping on online orders, and even save 10% on certain hotel stays.

Photo: Andrei Stanescu/iStockPhoto

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