Do you need a credit card? Are you having a difficult time securing a credit card because of poor credit? Or are you trying to avoid a hard pull which can lower your credit score by up to five points? The “shopping cart trick” may be a great tool for you. This clever trick can allow you to get a credit card from many retail websites that offer pre-approval during checkout. Read on to find out how to use this trick, and to see the list of stores where the shopping cart trick works.

In This Article

  • Benefits to Using the Shopping Cart Trick

  • Potential Drawbacks of the Shopping Cart Trick

  • How to Do the Shopping Cart Trick

  • Tips

  • The Stores Where the Shopping Cart Trick Works

Benefits to Using the Shopping Cart Trick

The shopping cart trick is especially useful if your credit score is too low to get a credit card. Often, when our credit score dips down, we struggle to find credit cards, even when we really need it and are working hard to bring our score back up. Even if you have a reasonably strong credit score, this trick can also help you avoid a hard pull on your credit report, which can bring your score down even if you are approved for the card. With the shopping cart trick, the lender won’t even look at your full credit report!

Only a soft credit inquiry is conducted so that the retailer can verify your identity.

Potential Drawbacks of the Shopping Cart Trick

The shopping cart trick can be useful for building credit when your score is low. Typically, the more credit you have been approved for, the higher your score will be. But be aware that when you add new cards, the average age of your open accounts will decrease, which will bring your score down temporarily.

You will probably be offered some great bonuses and additional promotions from the store through which you are approved. Sometimes you will get cash back offers; other times you may get special deals for purchases at the partnered store. Some stores may even offer a special signup bonus which you can use as an instant discount on in-store purchases. Take a look at the credit card offer at the particular store where you apply to find out what bonuses are included.

How to do the Shopping Cart Trick

  1. Go to the website of the store where you want to get a credit card. We have provided a list of stores where this trick works at the end of the article.
  2. Register on the website and/or join the loyalty program. Typically there is a link on the top menu that says “Create an account.”
  3. Make sure you are logged in.
  4. Add items to your shopping cart. It doesn’t matter which item or items you choose, as you won’t need to actually buy them for the trick to work.
  5. Begin the checkout process. When prompted, enter your address and information exactly as it appears on your credit reports.
  6. At some point in the checkout process, you should receive an offer stating that you’ve been pre-approved for the store credit card. Choose to accept the offer and complete the application per the provided instructions.
  7. After you finish the credit card application, you’ll be taken back to the final payment page of the checkout process. You can stop here. You do not need to complete checkout or actually purchase anything.
  8. If you haven’t received an offer by the time you get to the final checkout page, either the shopping cart trick isn’t working at this time, or you need to make an adjustment and try again. Check out the tips below.

Tips and Other Helpful Information

Is the shopping cart trick not working? It sometimes relies on many small factors being in place. Try the following:

Check who issues the card in the offer. Typically, the shopping cart trick only works for Comenity-based cards (and, more rarely, for cards issued by Synchrony or Wells Fargo).

Make sure you are opted in to credit card promotions. You are automatically opted in, so unless you went through the process of opting out, you shouldn’t have to change anything. But if the trick isn’t working, go to the Opt Out Prescreen website to make sure you are opted in to these promotions.

Double check that the information entered for your account matches the information on your credit report. Although this trick lets you avoid a hard pull on your credit report, the retailer still needs to verify your identity. This is done through a soft credit pull, which requires accurate information.

Turn off the pop-up blocker for your browser, if you are using one. Go to Preferences or Settings in your browser to turn off the pop-up blocker. Most credit card offers appear in pop-up windows that your computer may be automatically preventing from showing up.

Sometimes you have to begin typing in payment information before you get the pre-approved offer. In some cases, once you begin typing numbers in the credit card box, an offer will appear.

Be careful if you are asked to provide your full Social Security Number (SSN) during the application process! If you are, the application may run a hard pull on your credit report. Almost all cards issued through the shopping cart trick only require the last four digits of your SSN.

If a pre-approved offer still doesn’t show up, try again in a few weeks. Offers are not always available, and the trick doesn’t have a 100% success rate. Better luck next time!

Note that the credit limits for cards acquired with this trick usually start out relatively low (around $500 in many cases). But you can always request a credit limit increase, or one might be given automatically if you use the card regularly enough.

The Stores Where the Shopping Cart Trick Works

1. Overstock

  • Types of items sold: Home decor, rugs, furniture, bedding, jewelry, clothing, and many other goods
  • How to shop: Online retailer only
  • Other information: Customers applying for the Overstock credit card will be asked for their full Social Security Number, but it is still a soft pull. Also, this card is known to provide a high credit limit with regular automatic increases.
  • Get started with Overstock

2. Ann Taylor

3. The Loft

  • Types of items sold: Women’s clothing and accessories
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with The Loft

4. Boscov’s

  • Types of items sold: Apparel, shoes, handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, small appliances, and home decor
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with Boscov’s

5. J.Jill

  • Types of items sold: Women’s apparel, accessories, and footwear
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with J.Jill

6. Victoria’s Secret

7. HSN

  • Types of items sold: Clothing, shoes, jewelry, beauty supplies, home decor, appliances, and toys
  • How to shop: Online retailer only
  • Get started with HSN

8. Lowe’s

  • Types of items sold: Tools, building materials, home improvement, home decor, lawn and garden supplies, and appliances
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with Lowe’s

9. PC Richard & Son

  • Types of items sold: Appliances, electronics, and mattresses
  • How to shop: Online and in stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania
  • Get started with PC Richard & Son

10. Toys “R” Us

11. Abercrombie & Fitch

12. Bath & Body Works

13. Buckle

  • Types of items sold: Clothing, footwear, and accessories
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with Buckle

14. Express

15. Wayfair

  • Types of items sold: Furniture, rugs, home decor, cookware, outdoor goods, and more
  • How to shop: Online retailer only
  • Get started with Wayfair

16. Williams-Sonoma

17. Gamestop

  • Types of items sold: Video games, consumer electronics, and wireless services
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Get started with Gamestop

18. Coldwater Creek

19. Motorola

20. New York & Company

Stores Where the Shopping Cart Trick Does Not Work

Because of the issuing bank and the promotions provided by these stores, customers report that the shopping cart trick does not work at the following major retailers:

  • Walmart (credit cards are issued by Synchrony Financial and require a hard pull on your credit report)
  • Amazon
  • Costco
  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Sears

In Summary

This article shows you how to use the shopping cart trick as a handy way to get a new credit card when you have a low credit score or want to avoid a hard pull. It works at a number of retailers, the majority of which use Comenity Bank to issue cards.