3 ways credit cards can save you money on home improvements

Store cards, a sign-up bonus and category cash back cards can cut your costs

3 ways credit cards can save you money on home improvements

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From sprucing up your living room with a fresh coat of paint to giving your bathroom a major facelift, a home improvement project can put a serious dent in your wallet. With some smart strategizing, though, enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers can use credit cards to save money while renovating your living space.

Here are three ways credit cards can increase the return on your remodeling investment:

1. Store cards can cut your costs.
If increasing your home’s energy efficiency is on your list of improvements, consider the Lowe’s consumer credit card. As a new cardholder, you can save 10 percent on your first purchase, up to a maximum discount of $2,000.

When used to pay for such items as smart thermostats, wall insulation, sealant and windows, you’re combining the card’s upfront discount with long-term savings and, potentially, rebates from your local utility. For example, new windows can save the typical homeowner up to $465 per year.

If you’re converting a spare room to an office or nursery, Home Depot’s store credit card can help reduce the costs of paint and carpeting. You’ll pay no interest for six months on purchases of $299 or more. (Keep in mind, though, that interest accrues during that time and will be charged to your account from the date of purchase if the balance isn’t paid in full by the end of the promotional period.)

For furniture for that home office, a Staples business credit account or an Office Depot credit card will get you $50 off on purchases of $150 or more. Each card has its own rewards program, too.

For a crib and mobile for your nursery – and toys for your little one – you may find yourself at Babies R Us or Toys R Us. R Us credit cards earn rewards, and cardholders save 10 percent on in-store purchases on Thursdays through Oct. 5, 2017.

If you’re more likely to outfit your nursery at Walmart, Target or Amazon, their credit cards will earn you rewards, too. With the Amazon Prime Visa Signature card, you’ll save 20 percent on diaper services with AmazonFamily.

2. Sign-up bonuses can take a chunk out of your home project’s bill.
Credit card sign-up bonuses are one of the easiest ways to score significant rewards that can help to pay for a home project.

For instance, the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express offers $150 in cash back after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

For a heftier sign-up bonus, look to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which gives new cardholders an impressive 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months (plus 5,000 points for adding an authorized user). The total bonus is worth nearly $700 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, giving DIYers the perfect excuse to take a vacation after finishing that stressful kitchen remodel.

A home renovation that pays for vacation isn’t as crazy as that may seem at first glance. A LightStream 2017 survey found homeowners plan to increase spending on renovations this year, and the affluent are using credit cards more often to pay for the work because they earn rewards with every purchase.

3. Bonus categories will help maximize your rewards.
Instant discounts and generous sign-up bonuses aren’t the only ways you can use credit cards to save money on your home project. With 5 percent cash back category cards, you can time your home renovation project purchases to maximize your rewards.

For example, with the Discover it Cash Rewards card, the second quarter’s 5 percent cash-back category this year included home improvement stores and wholesale clubs, so purchases at retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards would have qualified for bonus rewards. (A card’s bonus categories tend to be similar if not the same from year to year.)

The Citi Dividend and Chase Freedom cards also feature rotating quarterly 5 percent cash back bonus categories. During the first quarter of 2017, Citi Dividend cardholders earned 5 percent cash back on Home Depot and home furnishing stores. 

With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card, cardholders can pick two categories each quarter for their 5 percent bonus. If you pick furniture stores, department stores or sporting goods stores, you could save 5 percent on a home gym and a kitchen or dining room remodel.

Bottom line: No matter what home improvement project you’re planning, your card rewards can cut your costs, be it with store cards, sign-up bonuses or cash back bonus categories.

Added bonus: When your little one moves from his or her nursery to a kid’s bedroom and then off to college, you can tell your teen how you saved a bit from the start. You’ll be seen as a financially savvy mom or dad. 

See related: Moving? Use a credit card to rack up major points, rewards5 questions to ask before making a big purchase for rewards

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Updated: 11-16-2018