Big Box Financials - Should You Buy Them? - NBC4 Washington

Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Big Box Financials - Should You Buy Them?



    Discount Retailers want to piece of the financial world and they are competing for your business. (Published Monday, Aug. 19, 2013)

    If you are headed to Walmart or Costco for bluejeans, blueberries and a Blu-ray player, why not pick up an insurance policy as well?

    As News4's Consumer Reporter Liz Crenshaw reports, big box stores now want to sell you meat -- and mortgages.

    "More and more people are going to these megastores to do one-stop shopping," said Pamela Banks of Consumers Union, publishers of ShopSmart magazine. "Costco and these other megastores are venturing into new areas."

    ShopSmart recently reviewed financial service offerings from several large discount retailers, including Walmart, Costco, BJs and others. The magazine checked out mortgages, insurance, checks and credit cards.

    And, ShopSmart found, sometimes the discounters offer up a good deal. Walmart's expedited bill-pay service, for example, costs $1.50 for next-day payments and up to $12 to same-day payments -- a big savings over a late fee.

    Costco mortgages, which come through a mortgage broker, give consumers the chance to choose the best deal among many different offerings.

    Big-box credit cards, however, may not be as good a deal. Some had interest rates of 15 percent (and that was a variable rate) to 25 percent. Bank-issued credit cards can beat that rate, Shop Smart said.

    However, buying checks at a discount store could save you plenty -- as much as $64 for 500 checks, the magazine found.