Pacific Sun Technologies
Best Credit Cards for Home Improvement Projects
Are you planning to upgrade some appliances in your home or thinking of repainting that room that’s been neglected for years? If so, you’re likely trying to decide the best way for you to fund these home improvement projects. While you may be tempted to reach for your debit card or checkbook, there is one option you should consider: a credit card. Even though credit cards are often associated with debt, if they’re used responsibly, they can be a handy financial tool, especially when you have a hefty bill to pay, like for home improvements. Keep reading to discover why a credit card is your best bet to fund home improvement projects. Plus, see which card I used to fund my own recent home improvement project.
Why use a credit card to fund home improvement projects?
Even if you have the cash to cover your home improvement projects — I did and I still used credit — it makes sense to choose credit. Below are some of the perks you can expect with a credit card.
Earn rewards on your purchases
This is probably the most obvious perk of using a credit card to pay for your home improvements, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. That’s because a lot of homeowners get tunnel vision when it comes to financing their home improvement projects, as they aim to save the money to cover the purchase. While that’s a great financial goal, paying in cash or writing a check won’t earn you any rewards. On the flip side, when you use a rewards credit card to fund your project, you’ll earn cash back or points/miles on the purchase, then you can use the cash you saved to pay off the balance. For example, I recently updated all of the appliances in my home, including the microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, freestanding oven/stove and garbage compactor. Even though I had the cash to cover the purchase, I charged it all to my Citi Double Cash Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser), which earns 1% cash back when I make a purchase and another 1% when I pay for the purchase. After I paid off the $4,037.05 balance with the money I saved, I earned a total of $80.74 cash back, which is $80.74 I wouldn’t have if I paid with a debit card, cash or check.
You can technically use any rewards credit card to fund your home improvement project, but it’s smart to pick one that will maximize your rewards potential, meaning it earns you at least 1.5% back. Here are some cash back and travel cards that do exactly that:
Best cash back card: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
O￼ur top pick for earning rewards on your home improvement projects is the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card. This card not only earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but it also offers a generous intro bonus opportunity. When you use the card to spend $1,000 on purchases, including your home improvements, in the first 3 months, you’ll get a $200 cash rewards bonus! What’s more, if you use a mobile wallet, like Apple Pay or Android Pay, to make purchases during the first 12 months, you’ll earn 1.8% cash back on those mobile wallet purchases. When it’s time to redeem your cash rewards, Wells Fargo customers have the most redemption options, as they can redeem via a direct deposit into their Wells Fargo checking or savings account and for a cash withdrawal from a Wells Fargo ATM. All cardholders can redeem their cash rewards for a physical check, gift cards, merchandise and travel. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card has no annual fee and offers a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% intro balance transfer fee for 12 months, then it’s 5%), which means you’ll have some time to pay off your home improvement project before interest kicks in. What’s more, when you use your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card to pay your monthly cell phone bill, you’ll get up to $600 protection on your phone against covered damage or theft. There’s a $25 deductible per claim and a maximum of 2 claims per year.
Runner up: Citi Double Cash Card
T￼he Citi Double Cash Card, which was my choice for funding the appliance upgrades, offers a unique way to earn cash back. That’s because cardholders first earn 1% when they make a purchase with the card, then another 1% when they pay for the purchase, bringing the total to an effective 2% cash back on all purchases. Cash back earned with the Citi Double Cash Card can be redeemed for a check, statement credit, direct deposit into your bank account or gift card. The card has no 0% intro APR on purchases, meaning you’ll want to pay off the purchase before the statement closes to avoid interest — that’s exactly what I did — but it does have an 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum). Additionally, you’ll pay no annual fee and get a free monthly Equifax FICO score. Finally, you’ll get access to a number of Citi cardholder perks, including Quick Lock (a feature that allows you to easily lock or unlock your car