We’ve grown pretty accustomed to sales clerks at checkout counters asking if we’d like to sign up for a store credit card. Say yes, and it may be weeks before you actually receive that new piece of plastic in the mail.
Now U.S. Bank says it’s developed an iPhone app that cuts the wait down to a few seconds. In the bank pilot program with REI, a retail chain that sells outdoor gear, customers can walk into an REI store, download the app, and immediately get a virtual credit card downloaded to their phone. The app also lets consumers check their REI accounts online, look up recent transactions, and make payments.
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The new technology helps REI in “moving the card-opening process from the checkout lane to the front of the store, using mobile technology,” Dominic Venturo, U.S. Bank’s chief innovation officer, said in a press release.
Of course, the same precautions still apply. As Beverly Harzog, Credit.com’s credit card expert, often reminds us, in-store credit cards may offer upfront deals, but they often come with big hidden costs. The process of applying itself often places a small ding on your credit score. And many such cards come with significantly higher interest rates than you can find elsewhere.
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So before you go signing up for banking apps and downloading credit cards to your phone, the same rule always applies.
“It’s really important to read the fine print, and do a comparison of all the credit cards available to you,” Harzog says.
Image: Business Wire