Best credit cards for home improvement

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Owning a home may be a common goal for many Americans, but it can also be a pricey endeavor.

In addition to ongoing maintenance and repairs all homeowners expect, most people choose to spruce up their properties—including outdoor spaces—every few years. Add on the occasional kitchen or bathroom remodel, new flooring and other upgrades that are necessary over the course of time, and it’s easy to spend a pretty penny keeping your home in tip-top shape.

Whether you’re buying mulch, a new kitchen backsplash or a lawnmower to replace one on its last legs, a credit card can be a powerful tool for home improvement projects. Many credit cards earn exceptional rewards on purchases for your home, including sign-up bonuses after you meet a minimum spending threshold. Others come with 0 percent APR offers on purchases for a limited time, giving you a short-term home improvement loan without interest.

As you prepare for your next project, consider Bankrate’s top credit cards for home improvement for 2021.

Best credit card for home improvement: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn a $150 rewards bonus when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 5 percent back on up to $2,000 in combined eligible spending each quarter in two categories of your choosing, 2 percent cash back on gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants and 1 percent back on all other eligible purchases
  • 0 percent APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles, followed by variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent
  • No annual fee

Why it’s best for home improvement purchases

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is ideal for home improvement purchases based on its unique option to choose two categories in which you’ll earn 5 percent back. This rate only applies to the first $2,000 in combined spending each quarter, but you can easily maximize this perk to rack up more rewards than usual on home improvement purchases. And if you do, you’ll earn up to $100 per quarter, or $400 per year, in these categories alone.

There are several categories to choose from with this card, but options you may consider for home improvement include department stores, furniture stores and even sporting goods stores. These can be great options for everything from kitchen cabinets and new furniture to home decor, household appliances and more.

This card also gives you 2 percent back in one category of your choosing among grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, which could help you rack up even more rewards each quarter.

There is no annual fee, and you’ll get 0 percent APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles (then 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable). That won’t help you with home improvement, but you can consider this perk if you want to consolidate debt without taking on interest for a limited time.

If you’re looking for an alternative that allows a bit more flexibility each quarter, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card allows you to swap out your 3 percent cash back home improvement/furnishings bonus category for one of another five-choice categories each month. That way, you don’t have to ride the rest of the quarter out in order to earn rewards on other big expenses. The Cash Rewards card’s 3 percent category has a slightly higher $2,500 quarterly spending limit, but it also shares this rewards cap with its 2 percent grocery store and wholesale club category.

Other home improvement credit cards to consider

There are several other credit cards that can work well for DIY home renovations or even a major home improvement project. Consider how different rewards structures could work in your favor.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card works similarly to the U.S. Bank Cash+: You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on up to $500 each billing cycle (1 percent thereafter) on whichever category you spend the most. While the Custom Cash lacks the Cash+ card’s ability to choose your own category, it ensures that you earn the maximum possible rewards by giving you the bonus wherever you spend the most.

That means if a home improvement project is taking up a big chunk of your budget one month, you might earn the 5 percent cash back at home improvement stores, whereas the next month you would earn in another eligible category, like grocery stores.

The Custom Cash also comes with a 0 percent intro APR on both new purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 5 percent on travel purchased through Chase, 3 percent on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and at least 1.5 percent on other purchases. You can also earn a $200 cash bonus when you spend just $500 on your card within three months of account opening, and this card comes with no annual fee.

Homeowners who want to save money on interest should also consider this card for its 0 percent APR on purchases for 15 months (followed by a variable APR of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent). If you have a large home improvement project coming up and want some time to pay it down, scoring a lengthy 0 percent offer can lead to significant savings over time.

It’s also worth noting that the Freedom Unlimited’s sibling, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card, offers the same rewards and features at the same rates, but it earns 5 percent cash back (on up to $1,500) in activated quarterly rotating categories instead of 1.5 percent cash back on purchases. The Freedom Flex is also a prime candidate for home improvement purchases quarterly, since bonus 5 percent categories in the past have included home improvement stores. Sticking with the Freedom Unlimited will only earn you a bit over $22 in cash back on $1,500 of home improvement purchases, but the Freedom Flex will net a smooth $75. That said, you’ll be limited by time of year when the associate category is active.

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi® Double Cash Card is another good option for anyone who wants to collect flat cash back rewards on home improvement purchases. You’ll earn 2 percent back for each dollar you spend—1 percent when you make a purchase and another 1 percent as you pay it off.

While there are no bonus categories with this card, you’ll earn a high return on everything you buy. You may even think of the rewards you earn with this card as a discount on home improvement purchases.

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

A new player in the flat-rate cash back game, the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card is already shaping up to be an incredibly valuable option. Like the Double Cash, the Wells Fargo Active Cash earns 2 percent back on purchases. But unlike the Double Cash, there’s no catch: No payment requirements to meet, no caps to the amount you can earn and no annual fee.

Those looking for a generous flat cash back rate on purchases can’t do better. Most cards that offer this much cash back on purchases don’t come with a sign-up bonus, but that’s not true with the Active Cash. You can earn $200 cash rewards after spending $1,000 in combined purchases your first three months of card membership—a particular plus if you have a lot of home improvement purchases to make right away. And, you’ll enjoy a 0 percent intro APR on those new purchases from account opening (plus qualifying balance transfers from account opening) for the first 15 months (14.99 percent to 24.99 percent variable APR thereafter).

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

For small business owners, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card can be perfect for both home improvement purchases and all your other business purchases. This card starts you off with a $750 cash bonus when you spend $7,500 within three months of account opening.

You’ll also earn 5 percent cash back on $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each year, 2 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year and 1 percent back on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee.

As an added bonus, this card offers 0 percent APR on purchases for 12 months (variable APR of 13.24 to 19.24 percent thereafter). This gives you a full year to pay off your home improvement purchases without interest.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card can be extremely useful if you plan to order tools and home improvement supplies from Amazon.com. You’ll earn 5 percent back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases, 2 percent back at gas stations, restaurants and drugstores and 1 percent back on other purchases with this card, and you can even qualify for a $100 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon card approval.

There’s no annual fee for this card, though you must have an Amazon Prime membership. And you may be surprised by the home improvement shopping you can complete online. From kitchen islands to flooring, light fixtures and dishwashers, there are endless home improvement purchases available through Amazon (often even with free shipping).

Don’t see the card for you? Our CardMatch feature can help you find a card that best fits your needs.

How to choose the best home improvement credit card for you

The best credit card for home improvement varies since many homeowners have different goals. As you choose a rewards credit card for your next project, consider these tips to find the best card for your needs.

Rewards

Make sure to choose a credit card that offers generous rewards on home improvement purchases or at stores where you are likely to shop. You can choose from cards that offer high-earning specific bonus categories or opt for a credit card with a flat rewards rate on everything you buy.

Further, make sure you are happy with the redemption options available to you. Some cards only let you cash in rewards for statement credits while others offer gift cards, travel redemptions and more.

Sign-up bonus

If you plan to make a large home improvement purchase, coordinate your spending so you earn a generous cash bonus with a rewards credit card. Just make sure you can easily meet the minimum spending requirement within the timeframe specified or you’ll miss out. And don’t go over-budget just to qualify for a bonus; those extra rewards are not worth taking on high-interest debt balances.

Zero percent intro offers

Consumers who want to save money on interest can also opt for cards that offer 0 percent APR on purchases for a limited time. These offers can easily lead to significant interest savings, but it’s important to remember they don’t last forever. Once the 0 percent APR timeframe is up, your card’s APR will reset to a much higher variable interest rate, so make sure you pay down your balances beforehand.

Continue earning over time

Finally, remember that you’ll want a credit card that serves you long after your home improvement project is complete. With that in mind, you’ll want to select a credit card that offers rewards you like in categories that align with your regular household spending. If you’re going to be paying for gas, groceries and utility bills anyway, you might as well get something in return.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News
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