Differences Between Store Credit Cards vs Major Credit Cards

You probably are well aware that you can swipe or tap your credit card almost anywhere you shop, and you likely also know that many retailers offer their own store credit cards. These store credit cards can give additional perks and benefits specific to their store.

Store credit cards come in two different forms — open-loop and closed-loop. An open-loop store credit card will typically have the logo of a payment network on it (such as Visa or Mastercard), and it can be used anywhere those networks are accepted.

A closed-loop store credit card, on the other hand, can generally only be used at the store that issued it. While there may be added benefits and rewards with a closed-loop store credit card, that may be offset by the limited places where you can use it. Still, it can make sense to have a store credit card, especially if you frequently shop at a particular retailer.

Here’s a closer look at how store cards compare to major credit cards, what their pros and cons are, and how store cards can impact credit.

What Is a Store Card?

A store credit card or retail credit card is a card issued by a store or retailer. There are two main types of store cards — open-loop and closed-loop store credit cards.

•  An open-loop store credit card is likely a Visa or Mastercard that simply is co-branded with the retailer’s name and logo, but good to use anywhere those networks are accepted.

•  A closed-loop store card, also called a private label credit card, can only be used at the retailer that issues the card.

How Store Cards Works

Open-loop store credit cards are typically Mastercard or Visa credit cards, and they can be used anywhere those payment networks are accepted. While it may be marketed or branded with the retailer’s logo and name, an open-loop store card works the same way any other credit card works.

On the other hand, a closed-loop store card is only accepted at the store that issued the card. If you try to use a closed-loop store credit card at any other place, it will be declined.

With either kind of card, you’ll get a statement each month with the charges you’ve made. You’ll be charged interest on any outstanding balance, just like with a general-purpose credit card.

Recommended: Charge Card vs. Credit Card

Pros and Cons of Store Cards

One pro of store credit cards is that they often give perks and rewards that are specific to that particular store. If you frequently shop at a particular retailer, it can be lucrative to get their store credit card. You may also be able to get a signup bonus for applying and being approved for the card.

On the other hand, a store credit card can be limiting, especially if it is a closed-loop credit card that you can’t use anywhere else. Many store credit cards also come with higher-than-average interest rates, so it can be wise to pay off your balance in full each month so you can avoid paying any extra.

Store Card vs Credit Card Compared

While there are some important differences between store cards and general-purpose credit cards, they also share some similarities.

Similarities

•  You get a monthly statement with a list of all of your purchases.

•  You’ll be charged interest on any outstanding balance.

•  Payment history and balance information typically reported to the major credit bureaus.

•  Open-loop store credit cards and general-purpose credit cards can both be used anywhere the payment network (Visa, Mastercard) is accepted.

Differences

There are also some key differences between store cards and credit cards that you’ll want to be aware of:

•  A closed-loop store card can only be used by the issuing retailer.

•  You may pay a higher interest rate for a store card.

•  The rewards you get will likely only be usable at the retailer.

Here is how these features stack up in chart form:

Store Card

Credit Card

Where they can be used A closed-loop store card can only be used at the retailer who issues it Anywhere the payment network (e.g. Visa or Mastercard) is accepted
Interest rate Varies, but often higher than general-purpose credit cards Varies depending on the card
Rewards Usually limited to discounts or benefits at one particular store May have more flexible credit card rewards or cash back.

Recommended: How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

Is It Easier to Get Store Cards?

How easy it will be to get any kind of credit card depends on the specific card and your own financial situation. However, it is generally believed that on average it is easier to get a store credit card than it is to get many other major credit cards.

In fact, at some stores, you may even be able to get approved in the middle of your transaction as you check out.

Can Store Cards Impact Credit?

Yes, store cards can impact your credit, either positively or negatively, depending on how you use them. That’s true of all credit cards and is part of how they work.

Just like any credit card, your store card information is also reported to the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). That means that if you use your store card responsibly, you can help build your credit, while if you fall behind on payments and/or carry a balance, it might have a negative impact on your credit.

Which Is Right for You: Store Card or Credit Card?

Deciding whether a store card or regular credit card is right for you will depend on your own specific shopping habits and overall financial situation. If you frequently shop at a particular store or retailer, you may be able to take advantage of rewards, discounts, or other benefits that come with the store’s credit card.

However, general-purpose credit cards may offer better or more flexible rewards, in addition to having more flexibility in where you can use them.

The Takeaway

Store credit cards come in two different varieties — open-loop and closed-loop cards. An open-loop store card is one that may be branded or marketed as a store credit card, but can be used anywhere the card’s payment network (e.g. Visa or Mastercard) is accepted. A closed-loop store card can only be used at the store or retailer that issues it. While there can be good reasons to get a store credit card, you might be better off with a more flexible credit card that gives cash back or other flexible rewards.

If you’re in the market for a general-purpose credit card that gives outstanding cash-back rewards, you should consider the SoFi Credit Card. With the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn cash back with every eligible purchase, which you can then use for travel or to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. You can also add an authorized user to your SoFi credit card as a possible way to earn additional rewards.

Shop smarter with the SoFi Credit Card.

FAQ

Which is better: a credit card or store card?

There isn’t a single right answer as to whether a credit card or a store card is better. Instead, it will depend on your own specific situation. If you are a frequent shopper at a particular store or retailer, it may make sense to open its store credit card and get those rewards. However, if you’re not especially loyal to certain stores, you might prefer to get a general-purpose credit card and earn rewards that way.

Does a store card count as a credit card?

A store credit card can be considered a credit card since you can carry a balance and get charged interest. But keep in mind that only open-loop store credit cards can be used more widely like other major credit cards.

What are the disadvantages of a store card?

While it can make sense to apply for a store card, depending on your financial situation and shopping habits, store cards may come with some disadvantages. Many store credit cards have interest rates that are higher than average, so it can be best to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid those steep charges. Additionally, closed-loop store cards can only be used at the retailer that issues them, which makes them less flexible.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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Does Adding Your Spouse to a Credit Card Affect Your Credit?

Adding your spouse to a credit card could indirectly affect your credit, for better or for worse.

First, though, consider that many married people choose to combine their finances — using a joint bank account and treating all income as shared. Others keep some or all of their money separate.

But regardless of whether or not you choose to combine your finances, both partners will still have their own separate credit scores. Credit cards in the name of one spouse will not directly affect the credit of the other spouse.

If you add your spouse as an authorized user to a credit card in your name, it won’t affect your credit directly. However, how your spouse chooses to use their card can possibly impact your credit. If they don’t use the card responsibly and it impacts your ability to pay the monthly bill, your credit may suffer as a result.

Take a closer look at how adding your spouse to a credit card can affect credit.

Can Adding Your Spouse as a Co-borrower Affect Your Credit Score?

Adding your spouse as a co-borrower will not have an impact on your credit score directly. Simply having a spouse (or anyone) as a co-borrower or authorized user won’t affect your credit score. However, how your spouse uses the card may impact your credit. If they use the credit card responsibly then it may help your credit.

But if they spend more than you can afford to pay, your credit may be negatively affected.

Can Cosigning Affect Your Credit Score?

Cosigning on a loan, credit card, or other debt account can impact your credit score. Applying for a new credit account, even as a cosigner, will show up on your credit report. Having a new account on your credit may have a small impact just for opening the account.

Additionally, how you and your spouse use the new account will also affect your credit score, as your balance and payment history will be reported to both of your credit reports. For instance, a new account could raise your total credit limit, but if you don’t carry a balance, then your credit utilization would look smaller, which can be a positive.

If however, you use that credit you are granted and your credit utilization percentage goes up or you make late payments, then it could have a negative effect. For these reasons, the answer to “If I add my spouse to my credit card, will it help their credit?” is “Maybe.”

Recommended: Joint Accounts vs. Separate Accounts in Marriage

7 Ways You Can Help Your Spouse Build Credit

If you have good credit but your spouse does not, here are a few ways that you might consider helping them build credit:

1. Authorized User

If you already have good credit but your spouse does not, one thing that you can do is add them as an authorized user on a credit card. Having them on an account that you already have in good standing can help them to build their credit. Just make sure that they use their card responsibly or it can negatively impact both of your credit scores.

2. Secured Credit Card

If you don’t want to or can’t add them as an authorized user to one of your accounts, another option might be to have them apply for a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you put down an initial deposit that serves as your credit line. As you make payments to your account, your available credit increases.

Depending on the card, you may be able to change from a secured card to a traditional or unsecured card after building your credit history.

3. Joint Credit Account

Like a joint bank account, a joint credit account is one where two people are both listed as owners of the account and are jointly responsible for usage. With a joint credit account, usage, balance and payment history will show up on both borrowers’ credit reports.

However, it’s worth noting that many major credit card issuers no longer allow joint credit card accounts. If you find one that does, then this could be an option to help build credit.

Recommended: How to Build Credit Over Time

4. Apply for a Small Loan

Another option to help build credit may be to apply for a small loan together. Getting a personal loan in both of your names may help build credit. One of the things many lenders look for in a credit report is a reliable history of on-time and regular payments. Taking out a small personal loan (and then regularly making payments) can help build credit history.

5. Review Credit Reports Together

Another tip for establishing credit is to regularly review both of your credit reports together. Your credit report contains a history of the different loan, credit card and other debt accounts that you have had. Going through your credit report regularly is a great habit to have as you can make sure that there are no errors, inconsistencies or incorrect information on your report. If there is, you can take steps to correct it, either with the account directly or the credit bureau.

You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the big three credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can access your reports at AnnualCreditReport.com .

6. Discuss Money Management

Another great financial habit to have is to regularly discuss money management. You’ll want to work together on making sound financial decisions, setting financial goals, or deciding on big-ticket purchases. When both partners are involved in the household finances, it makes it easier to stay on the same financial page.

7. Establish and Stick to a Budget

One of the best habits that you can have to improve your finances is to establish and stick to a budget. A budget is a tool that helps you not spend money on things that are not important to you, so that you still have money to spend on the things that are important to you.

At its simplest, a budget can just be a listing of the expected income and expenses for a month. Sticking to a budget can just mean making sure that your income exceeds your expenses. There are a variety of methods you might try out and see how they work for you, such as the envelope system and the 50/30/20 budget rule, among others.

The Takeaway

Even if you combine finances in your marriage or partnership, each individual will still have their own credit report and credit score. Adding your spouse to a credit card account will not directly impact your credit score. However, the manner in which they use the card can have an affect on your credit.

Work together to set up sound financial habits so that both of you use your credit responsibly. Having a good credit score is one of the biggest financial assets that you will have in life.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Will adding my spouse to my credit card build our credit?

It’s important to note that even if you combine your other finances, both you and your spouse will continue to have separate credit reports and credit scores. If you have good credit but your spouse does not, you could add them as an authorized user to one of your credit card accounts. Just make sure that they use the card responsibly, or it can have a negative impact on both of your scores.

Does my spouse affect my credit score?

Regardless of whether or not you combine finances in marriage, your credit scores remain individual accounts. Your spouse will not affect your credit score, unless you have joint accounts where both of you are listed as borrowers on the account. Another way your spouse can affect your credit score is if their spending or financial habits cause you to miss payments or increase balances on your own accounts.

Will lenders look at both spouses’ credit scores?

Whether or not lenders look at both spouses’ credit scores will depend on what type of loan you’re applying for. If you apply for an individual credit card, the lender will generally only look at your credit report. However, if you apply for a joint loan (such as a home mortgage), then lenders will look at both credit reports. If one spouse has poor credit, it may not make sense to apply in both spouses’ names.

What happens if I have a good credit score, but my spouse doesn’t?

One spouse’s credit score does not directly affect the credit score of the other spouse, unless they are joint borrowers. If you have a good credit score but your spouse does not, that may mean that you will want to apply for loans or mortgages in only your name.


Photo credit: iStock/Eva-Katalin

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Standard Credit Card Size or Dimensions

Have you ever noticed that all the credit cards in your wallet are exactly the same size?

That’s because every credit card issued in the U.S. — and around the world — must be 3.375 inches wide by 2.125 inches high, according to requirements established decades ago by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Credit card issuers can get a little creative with their logo and some other design features, but there are rules regarding credit card size, including how high, wide, and thick they can be. (And, by the way, those same rules apply to debit cards and government-issued IDs.)

Read on to learn why, when it comes to credit cards, size matters.

Why Are All Credit Cards the Same Size?

It makes sense that all credit cards should be a uniform size so they can fit conveniently in the slots of any type of wallet. But that’s just a happy byproduct of card standardization.

The dimensions were put in place so that payment-processing technology can accept any credit card, no matter where the card came from or where it’s used. This means the same cards you use to make purchases or withdraw cash in the U.S. can go with you when you take a vacation trip to Paris, France, or any of the ISO’s member nations.

All financial transaction cards must follow the ISO’s ID-1 format. It specifies the dimensions of a credit card in inches must be 3.375 wide by 2.125 high, with a thickness of 0.0299 inches, and the corners must be rounded. The sequence of the digits in your credit card number and other card features also must follow standards set by the ISO.

When Did the Size of a Credit Card Become Standardized?

Although credit cards have gone through several major changes over the past 60 or so years—especially when it comes to developing new ways to pay and protect against identity theft—they’ve actually looked pretty much the same since the late 1950s.

There were different versions of credit “cards” before that — made from clay tablets in ancient times, dog tag-style metal plates in the 1930s, and even paper and cardboard in the ‘40s and ‘50s. But when American Express and Bank of America began issuing cards in 1958, and other banks followed suit in the next few years after that, credit cards quickly evolved to the size and shape they are today. Even that magnetic “swipe” stripe on the back has been around for decades: It was invented in the 1960s by an IBM engineer and became the standard worldwide by the early ’70s.

Recommended: What Is a Contactless Credit Card and How Does It Work?

What Are Credit Cards Made Of?

American Express is credited with creating the first plastic credit card, in 1959, and that’s still what most cards are made of. A card is typically created using a plastic resin known as polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA) that makes it bendable, durable, and water resistant.

Some credit card companies also issue metal credit cards, which are sturdier than plastic cards and usually heavier, too. (We’re only talking about a few grams here, however, so not nearly enough weight to put extra stress on a pants pocket or purse strap.)

What Is the Weight of a Credit Card?

While most plastic credit cards weigh about 5 grams, metal credit cards—which may be made from stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, or a mix of metals—may weigh in at anywhere from 10 to 18 grams.

These heavier cards are sometimes considered more prestigious, as many premium cards are made of metal. And feeling that distinctive heft in your hand can make a metal card stand out from plastic cards. But metal cards aren’t as rare as they used to be. And the way a credit card works is basically the same no matter what material it’s made from.

If you’re thinking about applying for a credit card, you may want to start by finding the card that’s the best fit for you based on its financial benefits rather than its appearance or physical weight. It can be helpful to compare the type of rewards a card offers, if it has low or no fees, the interest rate and credit limit you can qualify for, as well as other perks.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit and How Can You Increase It?

Are There Other Design Features that Can Vary?

Although all credit cards are the same size and share other important features, if you lay out your credit cards side by side in front of you, you’ll also likely spot a few differences.

Your credit card number may be on the front of some cards and on the back of others, for example, and those numbers might be flat or slightly raised (embossed). There may or may not be a space for your signature. And the security hologram and code verification value (CVV) — features that are there to protect you from fraudsters — also may vary a bit from card to card.

The magnetic stripe and chip used for making payments are located in the same spot on every card, though. Again, this is designed to make processing transactions as universal and convenient as possible. Mastercard plans to slowly get rid of the swipe stripe on its cards, however, starting in 2024.

Recommended: Guide to Choosing a Credit Card

The Takeaway

Although there have been significant advancements over the years in how credit cards can be used, how payments are processed, and the technology that helps shield consumers from theft, the standard credit card size and shape hasn’t changed in decades. And thanks to the international standards that dictate credit card dimensions, all your cards should fit in any card reader used worldwide — and in the slots in your wallet.

This means you can focus on other factors when choosing which credit card or cards you want to own, including the card’s interest rate, the types of rewards offered, and other benefits and protections.

Looking for a new credit card? Consider a rewards card that makes your money work for you. With the SoFi Credit Card, you earn cash-back rewards on all eligible purchases. You can then use those rewards for travel or to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. (It’s also a pretty good-looking card… if you’re into that sort of thing.)

The SoFi Credit Card: The smarter way to spend.

FAQ

What size is a credit card in centimeters?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specifies that credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards must be 8.56 cm by 5.398 cm (which is 85.6 mm by 53.98 mm, or 3.375 inches by 2.125 inches). The ISO standard for credit card thickness is .076 cm (that’s .76 mm, or about .03 inches).

What is the print size on a credit card?

Print size, font, and color may vary from one credit card to the next. Some credit card issuers even allow their customers to personalize a card with their own custom or semi-custom design.

How can visually impaired consumers tell a credit card from a debit card?

Credit card issuers are increasingly moving away from using raised letters and numbers as part of their card designs. Mastercard, for instance, plans to introduce the Touch Card, which uses a distinctive notch on the side (rounded for debit, squared for credit, triangular for prepaid) to aid those who may struggle to identify the card they’re using.


Photo credit: iStock/Sitthiphong

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Prepaid vs Secured Credit Cards: Similarities and Differences

If your credit isn’t stellar, you may find it challenging to get approved for a traditional unsecured credit card. One option can be a prepaid or secured credit card, which can be more easily available than an unsecured credit card. However, these cards come with a few key differences. Understanding how a prepaid card and a secured card vary can help you choose the right one for your specific situation.

When you apply for a secured credit card, you will put down a refundable security deposit. This serves as your initial credit limit, and you can borrow against that initial deposit. Your borrowing history on a secured credit card is typically reported to the major credit bureaus and will impact your credit score.

On the other hand, a prepaid card serves more like a debit card without being attached to your bank account. You load it with a given amount of money and can use it to pay for purchases without affecting your credit.

Learn more about the similarities and differences, including:

•   What is a prepaid credit card and how does it work?

•   What is a secured credit card and how does it work?

•   How are secured vs. prepaid credit cards the same?

•   How are prepaid vs. secured credit cards different?

•   How do prepaid credit cards vs. secured credit cards impact your credit?

Recommended: Apply for an Unlimited Cash Back Credit Card

What Is a Prepaid Credit Card?

A simple way to think about what prepaid credit cards are is that they are just debit cards that aren’t tied to your bank account. Worth noting: These aren’t truly credit cards because you aren’t being extended credit; no one is lending you funds. For this reason, you may hear them referred to as just “prepaid cards” (which is what you’ll see as you keep reading).

You purchase a prepaid card (often with an activation fee) and can then use the card to make purchases. Because prepaid cards are not considered a loan, their use is not reported to the major credit bureaus. This means that they do not have a positive or negative impact on your credit score or credit history.

How Prepaid Cards Work

When you buy a prepaid card, it comes loaded with a specific amount of money on it. Generally prepaid cards are issued by some of the major credit card processing networks (e.g. Visa or Mastercard). Once you have purchased the prepaid card, you can then use it anywhere that network is accepted. Some prepaid cards only have a certain amount loaded onto them that is fixed at purchase, and others allow you to reload the card at your convenience.

Pros and Cons of Prepaid Cards

One positive thing about using a prepaid card is that it can make purchases much more convenient. It can also be more secure than carrying cash for all of your purchases.

However, a potential downside to using them is that, if you are wondering, “Do prepaid cards help build credit,” the answer is a hard no. So if you are looking for an option that can help improve your credit score, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

What Is a Secured Credit Card

If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional unsecured credit card, you will also probably want to understand what secured credit cards are. A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires you to apply (which likely involves a credit check). If approved, you put down an upfront security deposit to the lender. This upfront deposit will serve as your initial credit limit, and it determines the amount of money you can spend on your card.

How Secured Credit Cards Work

With an unsecured credit card, you will put down an initial deposit. Some secured credit cards have a specific amount that you must put down, and other secured cards may allow you to put down more of a deposit. As you spend money on your secured credit card, your available credit decreases. However, you can likely increase your credit line by making payments or additional deposits.

Pros and Cons of Secured Credit Cards

One of the biggest pros of a secured credit card can be that your usage is reported to the major credit bureaus. In other words, if you use it responsibly, the card can help build your credit.

Many banks that issue secured credit cards also provide a pathway to automatically increase your credit line and help you transition from a secured to a unsecured credit card. One thing to watch out for is that some secured credit cards come with high interest rates and/or fees, so it can be worthwhile to pay your balance in full each month, whenever possible.

Recommended: Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Card: What’s the Difference?

Secured vs Prepaid Cards

Here is a quick look at how prepaid cards compare to secured credit cards in a few key areas:

Secured Credit Cards Prepaid Cards
Secure and convenient payment method Yes Yes
Reports to major credit bureaus Yes No
Affects your credit score Yes No
May be easier to be approved as compared to a traditional credit card Yes No approval necessary

Is One Better for Establishing Credit?

If you’re looking to establish your credit, a secured credit card is definitely your better option. Prepaid cards are not considered loans so they are not reported to the major credit bureaus. This means that using a prepaid card will not have any impact on building your credit. Using a secured credit card responsibly can help you build credit, but it can take a while to build credit with a secured credit card.

Is a Secured or PrepaidCard Right for You?

Deciding whether a secured or prepaid card is right for you depends on what your overall goals are. If you’re just looking for a convenient and secure way to make purchases without impacting your credit, a prepaid card can be a great choice.

But if you’re looking to build or establish your credit, you might consider a secured credit card. Of the two, a secured card is the only one where your usage and payment history is reported to the major credit bureaus.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

Prepaid cards and secured credit cards are both options that allow people with limited or poor credit histories to make secure and convenient payments. Both options allow you to easily pay for purchases wherever their issuer (e.g. Mastercard or Visa) is accepted. But usage of prepaid cards is not reported to the major credit bureaus, so it won’t have an impact on your credit score. If you’re looking to build your credit, you will be better off with a secured card.

Once you have established a solid credit history, you might consider a credit card that lets you earn cashback rewards with every eligible purchase. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you might apply for a credit card like the SoFi Credit Card. With the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn cash-back rewards, which you can then use for travel or to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card: So simple, so rich in perks.

FAQ

Are prepaid cards more secure?

Prepaid cards are typically issued by one of the major card issuers, like Mastercard or Visa. Each of these issuers is known for payment security. One thing to watch out for with a prepaid card is that it works just like cash — if you lose your card, you’re likely to lose all of the money that is stored on your card.

What is one disadvantage of a prepaid card?

One disadvantage of a prepaid card is that your usage is not reported to the major credit bureaus. This means that using a prepaid card will not appear on your credit report and will not have any impact on your credit score. If you’re looking to build your credit, however, you’re better off getting either a traditional credit card or a secured credit card.

What are the downsides of getting a secured credit card?

A secured credit card can be a good option if you’re looking to build your credit and are having trouble getting approved for a traditional unsecured credit card. One downside of a secured credit card to keep in mind is that you will have to put down a security deposit upon being approved. Many secured credit cards also come with higher-than-average interest rates and fees, so make sure you watch out for that as well.


Photo credit: iStock/Elena Uve

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Boston

If you’re a fan of the show Cheers, the Boston Red Sox, or even baked beans, a Boston vacation gives you the chance to go right to the source. But after having a beer at the bar and attending a baseball game, there are still plenty of things to do in Boston, aka Beantown.

Boston is a highly-walkable city, and each neighborhood has its own personality, like the “secret garden” vibe with row houses in Bay Village, or Charlestown, with its Irish roots. Plus, there are wonderful historical sites, museums, and gardens to explore, as well as great food of all kinds.

Here, you’ll learn about some of the top not-to-be-missed attractions, as well as ways to make sure your trip is as enjoyable and affordable as possible.

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Best Times to Go to Boston

If you’re planning your Boston trip, you’re probably wondering when to go. June until October offers great weather, though summer travel can be more crowded. Aim for late September or October to catch the fall leaves and cooler weather.

If you want to plan your Boston vacation around major events, here are a few to consider:

•   January/February: Chinese New Year

•   March: Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

•   April: Boston Marathon

•   June: Dragon Boat Festival

•   August: Saint Anthony’s Feast

•   September: Oktoberfest

•   December: First Night.

If you are planning on traveling during in-demand and potentially pricier times, consider using credit card miles vs. cash back that you may have earned on your rewards card.

Bad Times to Go to Boston

Depending on how much you plan to be outside on your Boston vacation, you might avoid visiting in the winter months, when you may have to battle cold weather and snow. (And if you’re traveling with pets to this incredibly pet-friendly city, those icy months may not be a good time for your four-legged friend either.).

Average Cost of a Boston Vacation

As you build your budget for your Boston trip, it can help to know how much you’ll spend on airfare, hotel, food, and renting a car (though public transportation can get you around town well).

For a couple, the average price for one week in Boston is $4,255. Hotels can cost $131 to $484 a night, and vacation rentals run $280 to $610 per night.

Even if you don’t have four grand lying around right now, there are options for book now pay later travel that allow you to pay for your travels over time.

And remember: using a credit card that lets you earn points when you book travel gives you credit card rewards you can redeem for other travel expenses.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Boston

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to fun things to do in Boston. No matter if you’re a sports fan, a foodie, a shopaholic, or history lover, there’s something for everyone. Here are the best things to do in Boston, based on top ratings online as well as recommendations from people who’ve been there and done that in Boston..

1. Catch a game at Fenway Park

If you’re a Red Sox fan, this is already on your list of must-dos. Fenway Park has been hosting baseball lovers since 1912. You can catch a game in-season (don’t forget to cover the price of tickets when growing your travel fund), or take a ballpark tour to learn about the unique history of this landmark. mlb.com/redsox/ballpark

2. Follow the Freedom Trail

This 2.5-mile stretch tells the story of early America, with museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers to explore. You can walk the trail yourself or take a guided tour. thefreedomtrail.org/

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3. Stroll Through the Boston Common and the Public Garden

Enjoy a beautiful day by strolling through these two Boston icons. The Boston Common was created in 1634, and was America’s first public park. The Public Garden was the first botanical garden in the country, founded in 1839. Choose your spot for a picnic and people-watching (a great free thing to do in Boston), or take a swan boat on the pond.
boston.gov/parks/public-garden

4. Get Educated About Harvard University

You don’t have to go to Harvard to go to Harvard! You can take a tour while you’re on your Boston vacation of this nearly 400-year-old institute of higher learning. There are several different tours, including those on the history of the university, a tour of the campus’ art galleries, a tour of Arnold Arboretum, and more. harvard.edu/visit/tours/

5. Tour the Boston Opera House

For a beautiful slice of Boston history, as well as the chance to watch a theatrical production, plan to visit the Boston Opera House. Additionally, you can take a tour of this nearly 100-year-old landmark and discover the intricate details of the opulent architecture, but you also can go behind the scenes of a modern production. bostonoperahouse.com/

6. Dine out in the North End (Little Italy)

If a trip to Italy isn’t in your near future, you can pretend you’re there in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Italian immigrants arrived in this quarter in the 1860s, and since then, Italian restaurants and businesses have sprung up, bringing European vibes to the city.

Save room for a cappuccino and something sweet, or plan to have lunch or dinner to enjoy authentic pizza or pasta at one of the many Italian eateries. (If you swipe a travel credit card as you dine, you can rack up more points to use on when on a trip.) meetboston.com/plan/boston-neighborhoods/north-end/

7. Have a Pint at a Boston Brewery

While the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery (samadamsbostonbrewery.com/) is the most well-known brewery in the city (and worth a visit), it’s far from the only one. Plan your day to include beer hotspots like Aeronaut Brewing Company, Harpoon Brewery, and Cambridge Brewing Company.

8. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

It’s hard to get far in Boston without running into a little history. The Boston Tea Party is an interactive experience that puts you in the middle of one of the most famous events in American history. It can be a fun thing to do in Boston with kids.

And after exploring the museum you can, of course, enjoy a cup of tea to commemorate the occasion! Tickets typically start at $25 for kids, $36 for adults. Looking online for coupons can be a way that families can afford to travel.
bostonteapartyship.com/

9. Enjoy the Art and Ambience at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Called a “millionaire Bohemienne,” Isabella Stewart Gardner made a name for herself in Boston’s elite and intellectual circles, and she opened an art museum at the turn of the 20th century. Heavily influenced by her travels to Venice, the museum now houses Isabella’s private collection, as well as modern additions. The museum is typically open daily except Wednesdays, and adult admission is usually $20. Also, there is a $10 million reward if you have any information about 13 works of art that were stolen 30 years ago! gardnermuseum.org/

10. Sign up for a Secret Food Tour

Want to know where the locals eat in Boston? Take a Secret Food Tour to find out. Accompanied by a Boston guide, you’ll discover hidden gems that are off the tourist path. You’ll get to try clam chowder, lobster rolls, and cannoli, among other delicacies. After all, let’s be honest: one of the top things to do in Boston is eat! The price of the tours will vary, but a three-plus hour eat-a-thon might cost $89 per person. secretfoodtours.com/boston/

The Takeaway

Boston is a vibrant city that was fundamental in the building of America. With history around every corner (not to mention something tasty to eat), you’ll find plenty to love about this city.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.


SoFi Travel can take you farther.

FAQ

What should I eat in Boston?

Boston is known for several unique dishes, including baked beans, lobster rolls, Boston cream pie, and clam chowder.

What historical things should I see in Boston?

Founded in 1630, Boston has been the home to major historical events like the Boston Tea Party, which has its own interactive experience and museum. Also not to miss are the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere House, Harvard University, and Boston Public Library.

How many days should I spend in Boston?

Depending on how many sights you want to see on your Boston vacation, three to five days is the ideal amount of time.


Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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