Whether you’re looking to build or repair credit, earn rewards or just need a no-interest way to pay off a big, important purchase, a credit card can be the answer. Here’s a look at our favorites.
It can happen at any time. You’ve found the perfect and totally necessary – yet beyond your budget – purchase.
Now the question is: How are you going to pay for it? Many people don’t have mountains of money lying around waiting for the air conditioning to break or a laptop to die.
Sometimes, credit is the best option. Love them or hate them, credit cards can help when you need a particular purchase pronto. But before you rush out and open just any card, there are a few things to consider.
Best credit cards for large purchases
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for paying your large purchase over time
- Discover it® Miles: Best for maximizing rewards on your large purchase
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*: Best for a purchase you can pay off right away
- Chase Slate Edge℠*: Best for a large purchase you’ve already made
- Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for no late fees
- Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card: Best for long intro APR
- Citi® Diamond Preferred®: Best for fixed-rate borrowing
Benefits of using a credit card for a large purchase
Credit cards with rewards are great options for large purchases because it’s like getting paid to spend money. And with big purchases, rewards points accumulate quickly. This is especially true if your card offers a large sign-up bonus with a high spend threshold.
For people who need to repair their credit or newbies building credit, a big purchase on a credit card is the perfect way to get into the game. If you play by the rules and make timely payments until the purchase is paid off, the final score could be a boost to your credit.
Plus, some cards offer 0% introductory APRs on either new purchases or balance transfers, letting you pay off that large purchase over time without accruing interest.
Will a temporarily high balance hurt your credit score?
When you open a credit card for a large purchase, be aware of a few possible consequences – like a dip in your credit score triggered by the hard pull from a credit card application.
With large purchases, you also have to consider credit utilization, calculated as the ratio of credit card outstanding balances to credit limits. A high utilization ratio can bring down your score, but it will come back up as you pay down the balance.
How to choose which credit card to use for a big purchase
First, you researched the big purchase – now you must figure out how to pay for it. There are so many credit cards out there that sifting through the details of rewards and fees can be overwhelming.
The best way to start? Identify your primary goals. Once you know what you’re after, you can make more informed decisions about which card fits the bill.
- Want to save on interest without sacrificing rewards? Try a simple rewards card with a 0% intro APR.
- Looking to pay off the purchase as quickly as possible and not interested in a card for long-term use? Open a 0% APR, no-frills card with no interest for a year or more.
- If you have great credit and don’t need an intro APR, do you want to rack up great rewards? Look for cards with excellent rewards programs and introductory offers.
Whatever you want to walk away with will depend on which card is best. Here are a few picks:
Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for paying your large purchase over time
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is for people who want to pay off a large purchase, such as a fancy new appliance or a computer, over time. This card’s long-term intro APR offer makes it a top choice.
There are several perks that come with this card, especially for a big purchase. Cardholders can get $200 cash back from spending $500 in the first three months of card ownership – which means you only end up paying $300. Combined with the 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months (14.99% to 24.74% variable thereafter), you won’t have to worry about getting gouged by interest charges either, which makes this card even more attractive. Not to mention you get at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases if you decide to use the card for spending later.
Discover it Miles: Best for maximizing rewards on your large purchase
The Discover it Miles maximizes rewards on large purchases, especially during the first year, with a generous sign-up offer. Discover will match the miles you’ve earned on the card at the end of the first year. Miles can then be cashed in or redeemed for any travel-related purchases, such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, ride-shares and more.
Cardholders earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, from groceries and gas to shopping and travel. Discover miles may be redeemed for cash or travel-related purchases or rolled over since they never expire.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for a purchase you can pay off right away
For folks who want to pay off their purchases quickly, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card gives $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 on any purchases within three months of opening the account. That means you can use your large purchase to reach a cash bonus, even if you wouldn’t typically spend that much in three months.
However, there is no introductory 0% APR offer. You won’t be able to pay off your large purchase over time without accruing interest charges. The upside is that cardholders can earn unlimited rewards, with 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.
Citi Simplicity Card: Best for no fees
One of the standout features of the Citi Simplicity Card is that it has no penalty, annual or late fees on top of its 21-month 0% APR introductory period. You can take almost two full years to pay off a large purchase or transfer a balance from one card to the Simplicity Card to pay it off. Keep in mind that a 3% or $5 (whichever is greater) balance transfer fee will apply. A 3% balance transfer fee is on the low end, as most balance transfer cards charge 5%.
On the downside, there are very few benefits that this card offers. Since it’s primarily a balance transfer card, customers won’t earn any points, miles or cash back. However, the card does come with the option to choose your own payment due date, identity theft solutions and contactless payment features.
Wells Fargo Reflect: Best for long 0% intro APR
The Reflect card is a new credit card from Wells Fargo that offers an 18-month, 0% intro APR that can extend to 21 months when you make on-time payments during the initial promo period.
Since the Wells Fargo Reflect card is also mainly a balance transfer card, you won’t earn any rewards or cash back on purchases, but the long intro APR period will let you pay off a large purchase via balance transfer or directly using the card.
If you open the account and make a balance transfer in the first 120 days from account opening, you’ll qualify for the 3% balance transfer fee and intro rate. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5% or $5, whichever is greater.
Citi Diamond Preferred: Best for fixed-rate borrowing
Like the Citi Simplicity card, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers a lengthy 21-month 0% introductory APR period on balance transfers and purchases. But remember that a 3% balance transfer fee will apply if you decide to use the Diamond Preferred as a balance transfer card.
As a Citi cardholder, you can take advantage of the Citi Flex Plan, which lets you borrow against your credit limit at a fixed rate over a period of time. There’s no credit check, origination fees or application required, making it an appealing alternative to a personal loan.
Unfortunately, as with the Simplicity and Wells Fargo Reflect cards, the Diamond Preferred won’t earn any points, miles or cash back.
Transferring a balance when you’ve already made a large purchase
If you’ve already made that big purchase on a different card and now feel regrets, you can relax. Thanks to balance transfers, you can still use your big purchase to take advantage of valuable offers that can save you significant interest.
Here’s one to consider:
Chase Slate Edge: Best for large purchases that you have already made
If you have made a large purchase but are struggling to pay it off due to costly added interest, the Chase Slate Edge could be a good card for you. With no annual fee and a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 months (14.99%–23.74% variable thereafter), this card may seem similar to many on this list.
However, the Chase Slate Edge stands out from the balance transfer card crowd with its rewards. Card owners can earn a $100 bonus when they spend $500 in the first six months, which helps offset the cost associated with a balance transfer. Additionally, the Slate Edge card rewards on-time payments by lowering your APR by 2% each year you pay on time and spend at least $1,000 by your next account anniversary.
Whether you’re looking to build or repair credit, earn rewards or need a no-interest way to pay off an important purchase, a credit card can be the answer. If you make all your payments on time, not only will your purchase be paid for, you may see a bump in your credit score.
*All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Slate Edge has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.