January 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Furniture e-retailer adds store card with no-interest financing

Nebraska Furniture Mart for years has offered store customers a retailer-branded credit card with interest-free financing. Now, when many consumers are having trouble getting credit, the retailer is bringing that store card option to its retail site.

Many credit card issuers are cutting consumers’ credit limits, making it harder for some cardholders to buy high-ticket items. Furniture retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart has responded by extending use of its own store-branded credit card to its web site.

The retailer, which operates two giant, 400,000-square-foot stores in Omaha, NE, and Kansas City, KS, announced this week it has added its Nebraska Furniture Mart credit card to the payment options at its e-commerce site, NFM.com. Until now, the card has only been accepted at the two stores, where it’s the most popular form of payment, says Jeff Douglas, Internet marketing manager.

A big part of the card’s appeal is the no-interest financing that comes with it. The retailer routinely offers customers who pay with the store card two months without interest on the balance due, and about twice a month makes more generous financing offers. For instance, this week NFM.com is offering 21 months without interest charges on purchases of at least $299.

“As long as the customer makes minimum monthly payments, they don’t pay interest,” Douglas says. “We sell high-consideration goods, appliances and furniture, and it makes it easy for customers to still buy things they like to buy.”

The store card is available as an option on the web site’s checkout page to the hundreds of thousands of consumers with active card accounts. Someone without an account would first have to establish one, either in a store or by phone, before using that option on the site, Douglas says. If an item qualifies for a special financing promotion, such as this week’s 21-month interest-free offer, the shopping cart will present that option, he says.

Nebraska Furniture Mart, which has been in business for 71 years, provides its own financing for the store card. “We provide the credit, and there’s plenty of it available,” Douglas says. “There’s no credit crunch here.”

The privately held company does not report its web sales. Nebraska Furniture Mart is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., whose CEO is billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

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