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Home improvement isn’t cheap — according to The Spruce, even something as simple as a surface-level kitchen remodel could cost between $2,000 and $20,000. Add gardening into the mix and you’re looking at what could be a very expensive, but very rewarding, project. Your home is where you live, after all. It’s worth it to make your living space as comfortable and beautiful as possible. (Plus, the right home renovations can add a lot to your resale value.)
Combining your renovation project with one of the best credit cards for home improvement can help you earn rewards that’ll cut your overall costs. Using 0% intro APR credit cards can also help you finance your home or garden project interest-free — although you’ll want to make sure you pay off your balance before the 0% intro APR period runs out!
Here’s what you need to know about credit cards that will help you make your home and garden look their best. Credit cards for home improvement and gardening expenses can be a great idea (although we can’t say the same about signing up for that big-box home improvement store retail card).
Which credit cards have the best rewards for home improvement purchases?
Currently, the best credit card for home improvement purchases just might be the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. With this card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on one of six bonus categories of your choosing, including home improvement/furnishings. (The other categories are gas, online shopping, dining, travel, and drug stores.)
Along with 3% cash back in your choice category, you earn 2% cash back on grocery store/wholesale club purchases on the first $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter. You also get 1% cash back on all other purchases, a $150 bonus after making $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, and 0% intro APR on purchases (and balance transfers made in the first 60 days) for 12 billing cycles, followed by a regular variable APR of 16.24% – 26.24%.
Qualifying merchant categories in the home improvement and furnishings category include:
- Architectural, engineering and surveying services
- Building materials, lumber stores, carpentry
- General contractor/residential building
- Glass, paint, wallpaper stores
- Hardware equipment and supplies
- Florist suppliers, nursery stock and flowers
- Landscaping and horticultural services
- Lawn and garden supply stores
You can see the full list of categories and qualifying merchants at the Bank of America website.
Be aware that you’ll need to set home improvement/furnishings as your 3% choice category when you get the card. You can change your category each month, online or through the mobile app, or leave it unchanged.
If you put all of your qualifying home improvement spending on a Bank of America Cash Rewards card as your 3% choice category, you could earn up to $75 cash back per quarter — plus the 1% cash back you’ll earn on all other purchases.
You’ll also get 12 billing cycles interest-free, so you could use this card to fund a large purchase, or a lot of small ones, and pay it off over time. Just remember to pay the entire balance before the intro offer expires and the regular APR (16.24% – 26.24% Variable) takes effect.
What about alternative cards?
Other candidates in the field of best credit cards for home improvement and gardening include:
- 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, after activation.
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Discover’s Cashback Match™ matches all the cash you earn in your first year as a cardmember, 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 14.24% -25.24% variable).
- 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter.
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- $150 bonus after making $500 in purchases in the first three months.
- 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 17.24% – 25.99% variable).
However, you’ll want to confirm that home improvement/gardening purchases are included in the bonus categories before signing up.
The Discover it Cash Back will not be offering home improvement as a rotating bonus category in 2019, although Amazon.com is on the Discover Cashback Calendar for October–December 2019. If Amazon is your go-to for home improvement and gardening shopping, the Discover card could be a good choice.
Chase has not yet announced its bonus categories for the last three quarters of 2019, so we don’t know yet whether home improvement will make the list.
Should you use credit cards to finance a big purchase?
If you’d like to use credit cards to finance a big home improvement purchase, such as buying new furniture for the master bedroom or renovating the bathroom, consider a 0% intro APR credit card. These credit cards give you a temporary interest-free grace period, which makes them ideal tools to help you finance a big expense.
However, as with all tools, carelessness could leave a mark. Putting a lot of purchases on a 0% intro APR credit card is a good idea only if you’re able to pay off that money before the intro period expires. Once that period ends, you’ll have to pay interest on any balance remaining on the card — and that’ll make an expensive project even more expensive.
Are department store credit cards worth it?
You might be tempted to put your home improvement or gardening purchases on a store credit card — especially if a cashier tells you that you can save 15% on everything you’ve just carted over to the register. Store credit cards do come with their own rewards, especially for loyal shoppers, but they also come with extremely high interest rates. If you don’t pay off the balance in full every month, you could end up paying a lot of money in interest. (Suddenly that 15% off deal doesn’t seem like such a bargain anymore.)
It’s entirely up to you whether to sign up for a credit card at that home improvement store you visit every weekend. Just keep in mind that a good rewards credit card generally comes with lower interest rates and a higher credit limit and can also earn you rewards on your big-box home improvement store shopping — as well the pizza you order after an afternoon of painting the living room, or the bottles of wine you buy for your housewarming party.
Store credit cards are fine when used responsibly, but you’ll have more options with a credit card that isn’t tied to a single department store.
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