5 ways to stack card rewards, savings on new home furnishings

Sienna Kossman
Personal finance writer
Statistics enthusiast focused on data-driven content

5 ways to stack card rewards, savings on new home furnishings

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Between the time first-time homebuyers make an offer on a home and close on the deal, they are already compiling a shopping list in their heads of the things they will need to buy to make their house a home. But before you start filling those virtual shopping carts, know that with a little ingenuity, strategically using credit cards can help save you money and keep your budget in line.

According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of Homebuilders, the average spent to furnish a new home runs around $4,000, not including appliances (which can run another $3,000 on average).

“Buying a new home is an important life event and can come with many additional expenses that were not a part of your initial budget,” said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot.com. “To get your newly purchased house feeling like a home, be mindful of where and how you are spending.”

With help from credit card rewards, cardholder loyalty perks and online shopping strategies, there are ways to cut costs and earn rewards on home goods expenses.

Here are step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to help you keep some money in your pocket:

1. Open a new, 0-percent interest card for big purchases

If there are large purchases for your home on the horizon, such as a new couch, bedroom furniture set or kitchen appliances, you may want to consider opening a new general-purpose credit card that boasts a long, 0-percent introductory APR offer. Doing so will give you time to pay for your items at no additional cost, so long as you pay down the full balance before the introductory rate period ends.

Here’s what you would save by putting a $1,500 furniture purchase on a 0-percent APR card compared to the cost of doing so on a standard APR card versus a retail card:

Interest costs on a $1,500 purchase on three types of cards over 15 months

  0% APR card
General purpose credit card
Retail card
Cost of furniture $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Interest rate 0% for 15 months 16.73%
24.99%
Length of time to pay off 15 months
15 months
15 months
Monthly payment $100
$111.51
$117.46
Total cost of purchase
$1,500
$1,672.71
$1,791.90

These days, many 0-percent introductory purchase rate offers last for 15 months, but some cards give new cardholders even more time to pay down large purchases. For example, the Citi Simplicity card boasts an 18 month 0-percent APR offer, and the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum no-interest offer lasts for a whopping 20 months.

2. Research reward values before you shop

To reap rewards on home furnishings, do some math – and research – before buying anything to determine which credit card can give you the most back in terms of rewards.

For example, among the rewards cards already in your wallet, do you know which one will earn you the most cash back or miles or points at a certain retailer. Free online resources, such as those at evreward.com or cashbackmonitor.com, can be good starting places for quick and easy value comparisons.

On evreward.com, you can type in a specific retailer and it will lay out just how much cash back you’d get by using different cards, how many miles you’ll earn per dollar spent or even if credit card loyalty programs are offering a bonus offer for cardholders who shop at that particular retailer. Such comparisons can help you determine which cards to use at what retailers to maximize reward earnings.

See related: Do the math to compare reward points' values

For example, if you’re preparing to make a $300 bedding purchase at Bed Bath & Beyond, an evreward.com search shows Discover cards currently offer the most cash back value (5 percent) for purchases made at this store, and Barclays’ points program offers the highest points value (4 points per dollar). In this instance, if you have a Discover card, use it to get $15 back on your new bedding compared to the $12 you’d earn with a Barclays card.

Cashbackmonitor.com works in a similar way, allowing reward seekers to browse by reward type – cashback, points, or miles – and see what retail purchases will maximize earnings.

Tip

Tip: If you use third-party sources to compare credit card reward values, double-check findings with the information in your card’s rewards portal to make sure you found the most accurate and current information and deals.

Ultimately, the best card to use for new home furnishings will depend on what’s in your wallet and the type of rewards that best fit your lifestyle.

Ebonee Bachman, interior designer for Decorateur Chic, furnishes her rental investment properties by shopping online with her airline credit cards almost exclusively.

“I find that I get a better ROI on miles cards because I like to travel and there are more opportunities to earn bonus or double your miles with purchases,” she explained. “I get at least two free flights a year based on home improvement purchases.”

See related:  5 steps to a mortgage-worthy credit profile

3. Start online shopping on credit card reward portals first

When shopping online for home goods, always start with your credit card’s rewards or shopping portal to boost earnings further and faster.

“Before making a major purchase, I check to see if my card has a partner or a deal where I can earn a discount or extra miles,” Bachman explained. “I use my card’s shopping app and desktop shopping portal to make purchases that will offer double or more miles.”

Major card issuer shopping portals include Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, Barclaycard’s RewardsBoost, the AAdvantage eShopping Mall,and Delta’s SkyMiles Shopping. To find your card’s shopping portal, log into your online card account and look for a page dedicated to shopping.

Once you’ve located the shopping page, search for online home furnishings retailers, such as Overstock or Wayfair, to see if you’ll get extra rewards by shopping that retailer through your card portal. For example, the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal currently offers 2 miles per dollar spent at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and one mile per dollar spent at Home Depot and Pottery Barn Teen.

Keep in mind that cardholder shopping portal reward offers change frequently, which can make this approach hit or miss. “If I’m not at least doubling my miles by going through the portal, it isn’t worth the extra effort,” Bachman said. However, just because this extra online shopping layer isn’t lucrative now, doesn’t mean it won’t be later. Check back often to land the best deals.

4. Double-check card linked offers, programs

Keep tabs on rewards portals to also take advantage of card-linked offers and other special shopping deals that are free for those who sign up.

For example, Bank of America Premium Rewards card holders earn 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. But, “if you’re enrolled in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards Program, you can receive up to a 75 percent rewards bonus, meaning you can earn up to 2.62 points per dollar with your Premium Rewards credit card,” explained Jason Gaughan, card products executive with Bank of America.

Linking your Discover card to your Amazon account will allow you to pay with your Discover cash back, too, making it super easy to buy household odds and ends with your hard-earned rewards. Amazon also allows points redemptions for other cards, too.

Offers aren’t always reward-based, either. For instance, American Express cardholders can sign up for free ShopRunner benefits, which gives online shoppers free, two-day shipping at more than 140 online retailers, plus free returns.

5. Stack rewards and savings before paying

Once you’ve exhausted all direct credit card deals, maximize earnings – and savings – by using online shopping tools such as Ebates and RetailMeNot alongside your credit card of choice.

Ebates is an online shopping portal that lets consumers earn cash back, view sale offers and redeem coupon codes on retailer websites. After signing up for an Ebates account, search for your preferred home goods retailer and click through to the online retailer site via the Ebates website to activate current offers.

When paired with a credit card, reward earnings get even sweeter. For example, Discover cardholders were offered 5 percent back when  shopping on Overstock.com in May 2018. However, those who got to Overstock.com by going to Ebates.com and activating its current 4 percent back offer for that retailer got 5 percent cash back via their Discover card and 4 percent cash back in their Ebates account.

Similarly, RetailMeNot's internet browser extension, Genie, automatically applies valid coupon codes and exclusive cash back offers to purchases upon checkout on retailer websites.

Other examples of online savings tools include:

  • United MileagePlus X app: When users download and sync with their MileagePlus account, this free smartphone app can be used to earn bonus miles on in-app purchases, locate participating brick-and-mortar retailers and even make purchases that earn users MileagePlus miles in addition to standard credit card rewards on whichever credit card you link to the app.
  • Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards Shopping button: Add this button to your Google Chrome browser for notifications when it’s time to activate and earn Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points per dollar on more than 800 websites.
  • Honey: A free browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout that will find the lowest prices for products on Amazon.com, and allows users to earn cash back – “Honey Gold” – on their purchases.

Use one or a combination of these tools in addition to paying with your preferred rewards credit card when buying furniture and décor. “Finding deals and promotions to take advantage of during this time is a smart way to save your dollars while also gaining loyalty points and credit at the same time,” RetailMeNot's Skirboll said. 


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Updated: 09-21-2018