How to budget for your home office using credit cards

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Working from home used to be a privilege reserved for freelancers, consultants and independent contractors. These days, though, many Americans find themselves with work-from-home jobs — whether or not they ever planned to work remotely.

There are a lot of advantages to having a home office, including the fact that it can add to the value of your home. And creating a real workspace for yourself, rather than turning your sofa or kitchen table into a makeshift desk, can help you better excel at your job and establish a work-life balance.

If you want the kind of home office that can help you work as effectively and efficiently as possible, you’ll need a quality remote work setup. That means a proper desk, an ergonomic chair, good lighting and so on. It might even mean renovating a room, depending on how your home is structured.

Since these purchases can quickly add up, you’ll want to make sure you’re using your credit cards wisely. If you’re smart about the way you fund and furnish your home office, you can earn the kind of credit card rewards that exceed expectations.

Earn rewards on home office purchases

If you want to maximize the rewards you earn on your home office purchases, look for cash back credit cards that reward office supply stores, home improvement stores, Amazon purchases and other home-office-friendly categories.

Consider a flat-rate cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers unlimited 1 percent cash back as you spend, plus another 1 percent cash back as you pay off your balances.

Or, you can choose a rotating bonus category card like the Discover it® Cash Back or the Chase Freedom® card, both of which regularly offer 5 percent cash back (up to $1,500 in combined rotating bonus category spending per quarter, then 1 percent, activation required) on categories which sometimes include home improvement stores or Amazon.

The information about the Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Leverage a sign up bonus or intro purchase APR

If you’re renovating a room to turn into a home office, there are two ways to get the most out of what could be a fairly expensive undertaking.

First, consider signing up for an introductory zero interest credit card with a lengthy intro APR period. The Wells Fargo Platinum card, for example, offers zero interest on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 18 months (15.49 – 24.99 percent variable APR thereafter), which can help you pay off your project over time instead of incurring all the costs at once.

When you use a zero percent intro APR card to fund a large purchase, you’re essentially giving yourself an interest-free loan. Just make sure you can pay off the costs of your home office before the intro APR period expires, so you don’t end up paying interest on your outstanding balance.

You could also put your home office spending towards a credit card sign-up bonus. Many of the top rewards credit cards offer generous welcome bonuses after you meet a minimum spending requirement within a given period after approval. For example, the Citi Rewards+℠ Card offers 15,000 bonus ThankYou® Points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, worth $150 in gift cards when redeemed through Citi ThankYou Rewards.

Plus, the Citi Rewards+ card offers an intro zero percent APR for the first fifteen months on purchases and balance transfers (13.49% – 23.49% variable thereafter). Combining a sign-up bonus with a zero percent intro APR is a great way to use a credit card for a big purchase.

Purchase securely online

If you’re making home office purchases online, it’s important to practice healthy online shopping habits. Start by only making purchases from retailers and brands you trust and have shopped with in the past. Stay away from unrecognizable retailers selling low-quality products or services at too-good-to-be-true prices, and watch out for scammers posing as fake companies.

It’s also a good idea to always use a credit card while shopping online. Debit cards don’t provide the same purchase protections as credit cards, and you can end up carrying more liability for unauthorized or fraudulent charges.

Are home office costs tax deductible?

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, both traditional employees and self-employed individuals could deduct home office costs from their taxes. Now, only self-employed workers can deduct the costs of setting up a home office, including a percentage of their rent, mortgage and utility payments.

If you are an employee who has either chosen to work remotely or who has been instructed to work from home, you cannot deduct the costs of your home office from your taxes.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ability to deduct these “unreimbursed business expenses,” so don’t count on getting a tax break for setting up your home office — but keep in mind that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the standard deduction, which could make up for not being able to deduct your work-from-home expenses.

Bottom line

Many employees are adjusting to remote work for the foreseeable future, but working from home is a longer-term trend throughout many industries. A dedicated home office that can handle everything from conference calls to quiet contemplation can help you make the most of your time at home.

If you’re looking to spruce up your home office or expand your temporary workspace, using credit cards to cover home office supplies can help you maximize your purchases using bonus rewards categories and take your time paying off the cost with a zero percent introductory interest period.