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Cards may be trouble in store..

Millions of us are wondering whether store cards are such a good deal after Princess Di's embarrassment last week when her Harvey Nichols card was rejected by a computerised till.

Almost 14 million people hold accounts like Diana's.

John Husband, Personal Finance Editor of the Daily Mirror, says most store accounts are more expensive than regular credit cards - and could leave you more in the red than Di's blushing cheeks.

"A store card may be very tempting when you see a dress and you can't immediately afford it," he says.

"But in general, store cards are far more expensive than credit cards issued by banks or building societies and they can only be used in one chain. The better credit cards could cost you half as much as the average store card and can be far more widely used.

"If you borrow a lot on a store card, the difference over a year could cost you the equivalent of a new outfit."

But Elizabeth Stanton Jones of the British Retail Consortium says that store cards, used wisely, can save you money.

"Using your store card for short-term borrowing is sensible money management," she says.

"If you pay off the balance at one go, you may not pay any interest. And you'll have access to special offers and discounts."

TV presenter and former Radio 1 DJ Wendy Lloyd agrees.

"I got a Debenhams charge card when it offered an extra discount off sale bargains," she says. "That seemed a good enough reason to get it right away - and I still find it useful."

Big Breakfast presenter Sharron Davies swears by her M&S card.

"It's useful because I never have time to get cash out," she says. "I like the quality of M&S. It's great for kids' clothes too."

GMTV Newsreader Jo Sheldon has a John Lewis store card - but admits she's tempted to overspend.

"I haven't gone over the top yet," she says, "but it's just another way of getting rid of your money easily."

Lesley Clarke, wife of top hairdresser Nicky Clarke, is another fan of John Lewis. "With a John Lewis card, you can reserve things over the phone," she says.



BENEFITS: Special offers, welcome pack. COST: APR 29.8% or direct debit 25.9%. WHERE USED: All Sears stores, Wallis, Warehouse, Miss Selfridge, Dolcis, Olympus Sport, Freemans One to One.


BENEFITS: Special offers throughout the year. COST: APR 29.9%. WHERE USED: At more than 300 Next branches nationwide.


BENEFITS: Ten per cent off first purchase, special offers. COST: APR 29.9% or 26.3% direct debit. WHERE USED: 88 nationwide Debenhams stores and Burton Group stores including Top Shop, Evans.


BENEFITS: Ten per cent off first purchase, special offers, Privilege Points scheme. COST: APR 29.9% or 26.3% direct debit. WHERE USED: Principles have 200 shops plus concessions in Debenhams and Burton Group stores.


BENEFITS: Ten per cent off first purchase, previews, sales discount. COST: APR 29.9% or 26.3% direct debit. WHERE USED: More than 500 branches of Dorothy Perkins, other Burton Group stores.


BENEFITS: Ten per cent off first purchase, pounds 5 voucher for spending more than pounds 25; extra discounts. COST: APR 26.3% direct debit only. WHERE USED: 250 Top Shop/Top Man shops, Burton Group stores.


BENEFITS: Special offers, use over phone, free delivery in many areas, no annual fee. COST: APR 18%. WHERE USED: All 23 John Lewis branches, Waitrose food shops.


BENEFITS: pounds 10 off first purchase of pounds 75, reward points, discount vouchers. COST: APR 29.8%, 25.9% direct debit. WHERE USED: More than 2,000 stores nationwide including Richards, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse, Dolcis, Cable & Co.


BENEFITS: Special shopping evenings, money-off vouchers, no annual fee. COST: APR 29%, direct debit 26%. WHERE USED: All British Home Stores, Mothercare.


BENEFITS: Special offers, mail order exclusively to holders, preferential rates on personal loans. COST: APR 26.3%, 24.8% direct debit or 19.9% if balance is pounds 1,000 or more. WHERE USED: M&S stores nationwide.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Turner, Kim
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 1996
Previous Article:DI'S FURY AT RUNCIE.
Next Article:We're not mad for our Liam; HE GETS TWO FINGERS FROM GIRLS BACK HOME.

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