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.
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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 up to $300 cash back with an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
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: up to $300 cash back with an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
- Annual fee: $0
- 0% APR promotions: 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases
If You’re Spending $1,000+
Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express has a $100 after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months, plus earn up to an additional $150 cash back when you shop with PayPal (earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back). Terms Apply.
This card also has a generous cashback schedule – 3% at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000/year, then 1%), 3% on U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000/year, then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations (up to $6,000/year, then 1%) then 1% on other purchases.
- Welcome bonus: $100 after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months, plus earn up to an additional $150 cash back when you shop with PayPal (earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back)
- Annual fee: $0 (See Rates and Fees)
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
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.
- Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months
- Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee, (See Rates and Fees)
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 SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. This is on top of great rewards structure if you dine out often – you can earn 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), plus 1% Cash Back on all other purchases with no limit in each category.
- Sign-up bonus: $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months
- Annual fee: $0 annual fee, .
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase will give you 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.
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: 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases
- 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.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees. Blue Cash Preferred(R) Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees.