Earlier last year, we replaced our clothes washer and dryer. Both appliances were old, nearing the end of their useful lives, and, more importantly, we were renovating our pantry area after a burst pipe and flooding incident.
We were only a few years from replacing them and, using a small surplus of insurance money, we replaced them now so our other renovations would be sized correctly.
The purchase was around $1,500 for the pair and we got them from Costco.
This also means that I could use this big purchase to get a huge jump on a credit card welcome bonus. If you aren’t familiar with these, they’re incentives that credit cards offer to get you to start using their card. You often get a few hundred dollars in a bonus if you spend a certain amount within a short time frame, usually around 90 days. The higher the dollar amount of the bonus, the more they require you to spend.
They do this because they want to capture a “share of wallet,” meaning a percentage of your total spending. The bonuses often start with spending requirements of only $500 which can be a little or a lot depending on your budget. Our family of five in the Washington D.C. area would have no problem meeting the spending requirements of $500 in three months!
But if you know you’re going to have a big purchase coming up, it might make sense to get one of the higher dollar cards for the bonus because you know you’ll hit them.
Here are the cards I considered, at different dollar amount levels, for bonuses. I also included the annual fee, if there was one, and any 0% APR promotions in case financing is an issue.
If You’re Spending $500+
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you have good to excellent credit, check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited if your major purchase is just $500. There’s a $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months.
This is a solid cash back card on its own. You earn 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% at drug stores and dining, plus 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months
- Annual fee: $0
- 0% APR promotions: Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is a great cashback card on its own but they also give you $200 after you spend $500 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
As a baseline, you get 2% cash back on one everyday category (like gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants) and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. You also get 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you activate.
- Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
- Annual fee: $0
- 0% APR promotions: 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billin cycles
If You’re Spending $1,000+
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
The <strong”>Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is a great cashback card that will give you $150 cash after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening plus unlimited 1.5% cash back credit card on all purchases . </strong”>
- Sign-up bonus: $150 cash after you make $500 in purchases within three months of account opening
- Annual fee: $0
- 0% APR promotions: Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card can be linked to a Fidelity account where your rewards are deposited. This account can be a taxable brokerage account, an IRA, 529, or cash account.
This card is remarkable because not only do you get a nice sign-up bonus, $100 in cashback after $1,000 in purchases, but you get 2% cashback on all purchases with no restrictions.
- Sign-up bonus: $100 cash after you make $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening
- Annual fee: $0
- 0% APR promotions: None
Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
This card offers a few cashback tiers:
- 6% cashback at US supermarkets on $6,000 per year in spending,
- 3% cashback at US gas stations with no limit,
- 3% cashback on US transit (ground transportation only),
- 6% cashback on select US streaming (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ShowTime, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Video but not Amazon Prime – see the American Express website for full detailed list),
- 1% on everything else with no limit.
This card’s annual fee is $250 statement credit.
- Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership
- Annual fee: $250 statement credit annual fee, not waived for the first year
- 0% APR promotions: Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening
If You’re Spending $3,000+
As you get to the higher spending tiers, you see more travel cards and fewer cashback cards. We only have one cashback card on the list below and then we share a few travel cards worth considering. The value of those points depends on how often you’ll use them so we try to find the programs with the greatest utility.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a $300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. This is on top of great rewards structure if you dine out often – you can earn 4% cashback on dining and entertainment, 2% cashback at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases with no limit in each category.
- Sign-up bonus: $300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
- Annual fee: $300 annual fee, waived for the first year.
- 0% APR promotions: No offers
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase will give you 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
You also earn 6X points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2X points on all other purchases, plus you get a free night award each year, worth up to 35,000 points.
- Sign-up bonus: 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
- Annual fee: $95
- 0% APR promotions: None
One of these cards will help you earn a little bonus on the money you’re already spending!
What About Financing?
It almost never makes sense to take the financing offer any store offers. They’re abysmal.
Sometimes, they offer “deferred financing.” That’s when you get 0% for a period of time, like 12-18 months. When that period ends, all the interest that accrued during the promotional period gets added to the balance. If you pay off the loan before the promotional period, you pay 0%. If you don’t, all that interest comes due. (what happens is the paperwork explains this but you can bet your bottom dollar the salesperson won’t explain it that clearly!)
If you need financing over more than 12-18 months, consider working with your bank or credit union to get a short term loan. Most credit cards will give you a 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, even as many as 18 months, but after that, you’re looking at a double-digit interest rate. If you can pay it off within that time period, or very close to it, then the credit card offer may be the best offer. If you can’t, you have to do the math to see which is the best option.
Alternatively, if you have a choice, save up enough so that you can pay it off within the 12-18 month window. That way you can take advantage of these offers, pay it off in time, and not get charged a lot in finance charges. Those can easily eat up any bonus you might get.