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 AC to break or 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.
See related: Best balance transfer credit cards
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
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Best for a large purchase you’ve already made
Benefits of using a credit card for a large purchaseCredit 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.
See related: 3 credit cards offering a $500 sign-up bonus
For those who need to repair credit, or newbies needing to build 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, which let you pay off that large purchase over time without accruing interest.
Will the temporarily high balance of a large purchase 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 particularly large purchases, you also have to consider credit utilization – which is calculated as the ratio of credit card outstanding balances to credit limits. A high utilization can bring down your score, but as the balance gets paid down, the score will come back up, and possibly get even higher.
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, and 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 those looking to pay off a large purchase over time. Think: fancy new appliance or computer. This card’s long-term intro APR offer makes it a top choice.
There are several perks to opening this card, especially for a big purchase. Cardholders can get $200 cash back from putting $500 on the card 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 23.74% variable thereafter), you won’t have to worry about getting gouged by interest fees either, which makes this card even more attractive. Not to mention at least 1.5% cash back given on all purchases, if you decide to use the card for other purchases 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. At the end year one, Discover will match the miles you’ve earned on the card, that 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, travel-related purchases or rolled over because 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, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.
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:
Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card: Best for a large purchase you’ve already made
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days (15.49% – 25.49% variable APR thereafter) – a great way to pay no interest for the first few months.
Plus, new cardholders who spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days will get a $200 online cash bonus. Cardholders also earn 3% cash back in a category of their choice (from six options), 2% cash back at grocery stores and on wholesale club purchases (up to $2,500 in combined 2% and 3% categories per quarter, then 1% back) and 1% on all other purchases.
The balance transfer fee isn’t bad either, at just $10 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater.
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. If you make all your payments on time, not only will your purchase be paid for, but you may see bump in your credit score.