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BRC defends store cards

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that it is down to customers themselves to decide whether store cards are an "appropriate choice".Provided the rate of interest on store cards is "made clear to customers" and "there is full transparency of all terms and conditions" it is up to consumers to judge whether a store card is right for them or not, said Dale Atkinson, press officer for the BRC. Mr Atkinson said: "These cards offer a range of benefits to customers, including special promotions for cardholders, discounts and the opportunity to accumulate transaction-based loyalty points."However, store cards have been subject to intense criticism over the rate of interest they charge on purchases - which can be anything up to 30 per cent annual percentage rate (APR), twice the rate of a typical high street credit card.As of May this year, it became law for store cards to print the rate of interest on account statements if the APR exceeds 25 per cent, following a Competition Commission inquiry, which found that the store card market was "insulated" from competitive pressures. Many high street shops, including IKEA Home, Debenhams, Mothercare and New Look offer the cards, which typically offer an initial discount and a 54 to 56 day interest free period as a sweetener.

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