There are tons of great rewards cards out there right now that promise to help you inexpensively travel the best places and stay in the finest hotels. But points aren’t just a good idea for travelers. Points and cash back rewards can really help you with your home value and home improvement.
We’ve all been there, that place where you’ve spent way too much time listening to designers on HGTV talking about “just” adding all new hardwood floors, new cabinets, new countertops, a really funky and unique handmade and hand-painted feature tile backsplash, new fixtures, some recessed lighting…and somewhere in there, reality starts kicking in and yelling, “Ka-ching! Ka-ching!” in the back of your mind. Because there goes your budget. You can’t afford that. You’d have to save for years.
Or do you? Because one thing travelers who use travel points know is that your money should never work for you just once. Are you earning cash back or rewards on your purchases? Are there sign-up point bonuses available for a new card or balance transfer? The answer should be yes, because those things can work just as much for your home projects as they can for your travel.
Let’s talk about your options.
I just have two points of advice before we start talking lines of credit. First off, plan carefully how much debt you can take on and reasonably pay off. There is no gain for you paying interest on money. And secondly, financial nirvana, in my opinion, is not carrying a credit card balance you can’t wipe clean, either through regular funds or by pulling from savings, at the end of the month or before the interest kicks in!
With that said, let’s talk about credit card programs that can help your home renovation.
Many cards offer a period of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers when you first start them up. This can be a great way to not only free up the money you might have budgeted for interest charges but a way to make your borrowed money go farther, since your payments will go totally to the principal borrowed and not to interest.
With these offers, make sure you go in with a plan already formed about how much you’re going to borrow and how you’re going to pay it off before the interest kicks in. The danger in these deals is that you’ll borrow beyond your ability to reasonably pay and be stuck with interest payments.
Our favorite offer: Chase Slate Credit Card with no balance transfer fees, 0% introductory APR for 15 months, and no annual fees. That’s a pretty hard one to beat!
These are my favorite rewards, just because they’re so versatile. Nothing like a card that pays you back for shopping where you normally shop anyway, making it easy to keep within your budget and not carry a credit card balance you can’t pay off.
The great thing about these offers is that you can earn cash back by paying for some of your DIY projects, so the money spent on your DIY projects can just go to supporting other DIY projects!
Our favorite offer: Citi Double Cash Card, 1% on purchases and 1% as you pay them off. Bonus, there’s a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months and no annual fee.
All-Purpose Reward Points.
These aren’t quite as versatile as the cash-back option, but sometimes you can get better value with points than you can with cash. A lot of all-purpose reward point cards have a marketplace where you can trade in your points for any number of things, from power tools to Home Depot gift cards, and sometimes even cash.
Just like with the cash back cards, you can earn points by paying for projects you might have already been planning on paying for, and those points can go to fund even more projects. Like I said, the best money is money you can make work for you twice.
Our favorite offer: Citi ThankYou Rewards, where you can get just about anything in the ThankYou Points marketplace, including gift cards, cash, and merchandise. We’ve gotten a lot of Home Depot cards this way.
Home Depot and Lowe’s Credit Programs.
If you’re doing a lot of projects, a Home Depot or Lowe’s credit card could be your ticket to saving a lot of money. Both offer 5-10% off on purchases using your store credit card, and both can get you eligibility for a number of different low-interest or one-year-interest-free project loan programs.
These are a great deal if you need a little more wiggle space on your budget, but, just like the interest-free financing, make sure you’ve already figured out how much you can reasonably afford to pay off each month so you can get rid of the debt before that interest kicks in.
Not a Card, but…
Consider a Costco membership if you haven’t already. Costco is more than just a buy-in-bulk super store. They offer some absolutely beautiful furniture at very affordable prices, but also get you access to great deals on flooring, window treatments, home improvement services, and vacations and cruises to get you out of the house while you’re renovating…
Yeah, I wish on the last one, but I’m too much of a hands-on project manager. And our budget calls for us doing a lot of the work ourselves.
Seriously, though, we love Costco. It’s where we buy most of our groceries, where we got all the furniture in our B&B inspired guest room, and where we book a lot of our travel. And we have the executive reward program with cash back rewards, which more than pays for the membership fee.
Note: None of these offers are affiliate offers and this post was not sponsored. We really use a lot of these tools to improve our home and other homes we’ve worked on! Also, before you get into any of these offers, make sure you check your credit and ensure your budget can support what you’re looking to do. Verify all offers with the offering financial institutions directly and shop around. There is no rush on any of these, and that “one time only” offer will likely come around again at the next big shopping holiday.
What rewards programs have worked best for you?