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IKEA’s furniture might be notoriously difficult to put together, but the retailer is making it easier to buy the furniture with its new IKEA rewards credit card.
Sometime this spring, IKEA’s U.S. unit is launching a co-branded credit card in partnership with the card services division of Alliance Data Systems Corp. The IKEA card will supply rewards for purchases made at IKEA as well as for everyday purchases on gas, groceries and utilities.
What we know about the IKEA rewards credit card:
Specifics about the rewards haven’t been unveiled yet.
However, we do know that the card won’t charge an annual fee “and will reinvest resources from the card to offer customers more generous rewards,” according to a January announcement about the card.
“The card will incorporate custom program perks designed to recognize customers for their loyalty,” the announcement says.
How great will the rate be?
In the U.S., IKEA already has rolled out the store-branded Projekt card, which enables low-interest financing of major home decorating and renovation projects.
This card, issued by Comenity Capital Bank, covers purchases of at least $5,000 at an annual percentage rate (APR) of 4.99%. If the balance isn’t paid off within the 60-month promotional period, the APR soars from 4.99% to 21.99%. So, if you get this no-annual-fee card, you’d be wise to wipe out the balance before the higher rate kicks in.
My hope is that the APR for the IKEA rewards credit card isn’t as astronomical as the non-promotional APR of 21.99% for the major-purchase card. If the APR is around that amount, then that’s likely to erase the value of any rewards you collect.
Beware of retail cards
Unfortunately, retail credit cards like IKEA’s often carry higher APRs than their general-purpose counterparts from card issuers like Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo. For instance, you might have a Capital One card with a 17.99% APR but a retail card whose APR is 23.99%.
A survey in 2017 found the average APR for a retail credit card was a staggering 24.99%. One retailer’s card even surpassed the 30% mark.
As a rule of thumb, if you do use a retail card, it’s best to pay off the balance in full every month to avoid those hefty interest charges. If you feel you just have to put a longer-term purchase on a retail card, try to take advantage of a 0% financing offer; these no-interest deals typically cover six to 18 months of payments.
All of this is not to say, however, that IKEA’s new rewards card won’t be a good choice for you, even in light of the potential for a 21.99% APR. Because just as you don’t want to poorly assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, you also don’t want to assemble a heap of credit card debt.