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If you have a big purchase coming up, getting a new credit card can be a savvy money strategy. But people might have very different goals for matching a new card to a big expenditure. Typically, they are:
A huge sign-up bonus. If you have to spend money on a big purchase anyway, you may as well charge it to a rewards credit card and earn a pile of cash or points from a sign-up bonus, which typically requires spending several thousand dollars in a few months.
0% interest. Others might prefer a promotional 0% interest period to stretch out the amount of time they have to make payments for free. The best 0% intro APR cards offer no interest on purchases for more than a year.
Each of these scenarios is available primarily to new cardholders. They usually don’t apply to your existing credit cards.
Whether your big expense stems from a wedding, new furnace, major car repair or something else, below are some credit card suggestions based on what you care about in a new card. Even if you don’t take a specific card recommendation, the categories can be a useful road map for the types of cards to look for.
These strategies work best for people with credit scores that are high enough to get the credit card limit they need for the big purchase.
For a 0% interest promotion
Long 0% intro period but no rewards
If you care most about avoiding interest charges on a new purchase for as long as you can and aren’t looking for a rewards credit card to use every day:
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Introductory APR: 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.74%-29.74% Variable APR
Get a long 0% intro APR period on purchases (and balance transfers). The card offers no rewards for spending and requires excellent credit. The annual fee is $0.
Other good choices:
A side benefit of using a credit card for large purchases is that you have a number of consumer protections, including the ability to dispute charges. And many cards offer extended warranties, lengthening a manufacturer warranty.
0% period + cash-back rewards
If you can accept fewer months of 0% interest on purchases and prefer your rewards in cash, you have a number of choices that offer rewards and a sign-up bonus. This is an example with flat-rate cash rewards.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Introductory APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 19.99%-29.99% Variable APR; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The annual fee is $0.
Other good choices:
0% intro period + travel rewards
Travel credit cards aren’t known for their 0% terms, but if you don’t need a super-long interest-free period, you can get a high-quality travel card with a sign-up bonus.
Discover it® Miles
Introductory APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24%-28.24% Variable APR
Earn an unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, and redeem miles as a statement credit toward travel purchases. The annual fee is $0.
Other good choices:
As always with credit cards, you want to avoid interest charges for carrying a balance outside a promotional 0% period. And if you use a huge portion of your credit limit, it could ding your credit scores until you pay down the balance.
For a sign-up bonus
The strategy here is for when you already have the money to pay in full but you want to earn a pile of cash back or points from a new rewards credit card. You do that in two ways: hitting the required minimum spending to get the sign-up bonus and racking up rewards for spending money on the card. The largest sign-up bonuses come on cards with an annual fee.
Cash back sign-up bonus
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*
Sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, including streaming services; 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Annual fee: $95.
Other good choice with annual fee of $0:
Travel rewards sign-up bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn bonus rewards in a variety of popular spending categories, including dining and travel. Annual fee: $95.
Premium travel rewards sign-up bonus
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn bonus rewards in a variety of popular spending categories, including dining and travel. Annual fee: $550.
Other good choice:
Some rewards credit cards offer additional perks or rewards for hitting specific spending tiers -- like spending $25,000 in a year. If you have one of those cards, using it could be another way to strategically benefit from a big purchase without applying for a new card.
If you already made a big purchase on a credit card but can’t pay it off right away, you could transfer a balance to a 0% card. See NerdWallet's picks for best balance transfer credit cards. Just note the balance transfer fee, often 3% to 5%.
Looking for a small-business credit card for making a large purchase? See our roundup of best credit cards for small business, and look for similar 0% periods and sign-up bonuses to the cards above.
*The information related to the Wells Fargo Platinum card and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.