Four out of 10 people who have a store card claim they felt pressurised into taking it out, a survey showed today
Around 39 per cent of people have a store card, with women nearly twice as likely to have one as men at 62 per cent, compared with 34 per cent, according to website MyVoucherCodes.co.uk.
But 42 per cent of people with a store card said they felt pressured by retail staff into taking it out.
A further 19 per cent claim they were tricked and did not realise what they were signing up for, after they were promised an in-store discount in return for taking out one of the cards.
Among those who do not have a store card, just over half of people said they had declined one on at least 10 occasions.
Three out of five people with a store card said they had been unaware of the interest they would be charged on it when they took it out, while 59 per cent did not even realise they would be charged interest on any money they spent, thinking the card simply enabled them to defer payment.
In reality, the interest charged on store cards can be as high as 29.9 per cent, compared with an average rate 18.6 per cent on a credit card.
Two-thirds of people with a store card admitted they were in debt after using their card while shopping, while 81 per cent said when using it they often spent money which they would not have done if they did not have access to credit.
But a savvy 12 per cent of people said they had taken out a store card in order to qualify for a discount, but destroyed the card immediately after they had used it for the first time.
Farhad Farhadi, personal finance expert at MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, said: "Sales staff in shops often lead customers into a false sense of security by getting them to sign up to a store card, which they say will give them a discount on their spend.
"The customer hears the word 'discount' and is often automatically sold on the idea.
"People should think carefully before signing anything, as this is the sort of thing that can lead to a string of debts. A store card is essentially a credit card, but I think many fail to see it that way."
* MyVoucherCodes questioned 1,659 people during April.Reuse content