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 pre-approved credit card from many retail websites 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 of the Shopping Cart Trick

The shopping cart trick is especially useful if your credit score is too low to get a credit card. This trick can also help you avoid a hard pull on your credit report, which can often bring your score down even if you are approved for the card.

Only a soft credit inquiry is conducted so that the retailer can verify your identity. With the shopping cart trick, the lender won’t even look at your full credit report!

You’ll probably be offered some great bonuses and additional promotions from the store through which you are approved. Sometimes you’ll 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.

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’ve been approved for, the higher your score will be. But be aware that when you add new cards, especially in a short time period, the average age of your open accounts will decrease, which will bring your score down temporarily.

Note that the credit limits for cards acquired with this trick usually start out relatively low (around $500 in many cases). So if you need a lot of credit, the shopping cart trick won’t be able to help you.

How to Do the Shopping Cart Trick

Note: Be careful if you’re asked to provide your full social security number at any point 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.

  1. Go to the website of the store where you want to get a credit card.
  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’re logged in.
  4. Add items to your shopping cart. It doesn’t matter which item or items you choose — 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.

Help! It’s Not Working

Is the shopping cart trick not working? Check these things…

  • Check who issues the card in the offer. Typically, the shopping cart trick only works for Comenity-based cards. (Synchrony or Wells Fargo issued cards usually don’t work.)
  • Make sure you are opted in to credit card promotions. You’re 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 ensure that you’ve opted in.
  • Double check that the information entered for your account matches the information on your credit report. The retailer will need to do a soft credit pull to verify your identity, which requires accurate information.
  • Turn off the pop-up blocker for your browser, if you’re 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. Once you begin typing numbers in the credit card box, an offer may appear.

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!

Stores Where the Shopping Cart Trick Works

1. Abercrombie & Fitch

2. American Home Furnishings

3. Ann Taylor

4. Bath & Body Works

5. Bed Bath and Beyond

6. Big Lots

7. Boscov’s

  • Items sold: Apparel, shoes, handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, small appliances, and home decor
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Start shopping at Boscov’s

8. Buckle

9. Coldwater Creek

10. Eddie Bauer

11. Express

12. Forever 21

13. Gamestop

  • Items sold: Video games, consumer electronics, and wireless services
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Start shopping at Gamestop

14. HSN

  • Items sold: Clothing, shoes, jewelry, beauty supplies, home decor, appliances, and toys
  • How to shop: Online retailer only
  • Start shopping at HSN

15. Jared

  • Items sold: Jewelry
  • How to shop: Online and in-store nationwide
  • Start shopping at Jared and select “Get Prequalified Now”

16. J.Jill

  • Items sold: Women’s apparel, accessories, and footwear
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Start shopping at J.Jill

17. The Loft

18. Lowe’s

  • Items sold: Tools, building materials, home improvement, home decor, lawn and garden supplies, and appliances
  • How to shop: Online and in stores nationwide
  • Star shopping at Lowe’s

19. Motorola

20. New York & Company

21. Overstock

  • 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.
  • Start shopping at Overstock

22. PC Richard & Son

  • Items sold: Appliances, electronics, and mattresses
  • How to shop: Online and in stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania
  • Start shopping at PC Richard & Son

23. Toys “R” Us

24. Victoria’s Secret

25. Wayfair

  • Items sold: Furniture, rugs, home decor, cookware, outdoor goods, and more
  • How to shop: Online retailer only
  • Start shopping at Wayfair

26. Williams-Sonoma

27. Zales

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:

  • Amazon
  • Costco
  • Home Depot
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Walmart

In Summary

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. All you have to do is create an account on a store’s website, add some items to the shopping cart, and then wait to be pre-approved. If that doesn’t work, try one of our helpful troubleshooting tips and hopefully you’ll be on your way to a new credit card.