Best Credit Cards for Home Improvement or New Homeowners

When you're renovating or buying a new home, everything from floor tiles to furniture to food is on your list. These cards can help.

Kimberly PalmerOctober 8, 2020
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When you're renovating a home or buying a new one, you face a lot of new costs: Everything from floor tiles to furniture to food is suddenly on your shopping list.

Choosing the right credit card for those expenses can help you get the most out of your spending in the form of rewards. Here are our favorite credit cards for new homeowners:

Top credit cards for home improvement or new homeowners

  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

  • Lowe's Advantage Card

  • IKEA® Visa® Credit Card

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Our pick for: Fixer-uppers

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 3% back on a category of your choice and 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 spent per quarter in these categories combined (1% after).

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card allows you to choose a 3% category from a list of six, and the biggie for new homeowners will be "home improvement and furnishings." That doesn't just cover a weekend trip to Home Depot and Williams-Sonoma. Bank of America® notes "this category also includes contractors like plumbers, electricians, landscapers and carpenters." From air conditioning repair and antique shops to florists and floor covering stores, the list of what qualifies here is lengthy indeed, so take a look. You can change your 3% bonus selection up to once a month, and you'll also earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, on up to $2,500 in combined spend across 3% and 2% categories each quarter. If you're already a Bank of America® customer, you may qualify for even higher rewards rates through Bank of America® Preferred Rewards. Enjoy a lengthy 0% intro APR period, too.

DRAWBACKS

The $2,500 quarterly spending cap in bonus categories can be a bummer, especially if you're taking on large and expensive home improvement projects.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Our pick for: Filling and powering your home

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% cash back on two categories of your choice from a list of several options (on up to $2,000 spent per quarter on combined purchases).

  • 2% back on an everyday category of your choice, such as gas, groceries or restaurants.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you get to choose two 5% back categories from a list of several — and among the choices as of September 2019 were furniture stores; home utilities; TV, internet and streaming services; select clothing stores; and sporting goods stores. That covers a lot of ground for a new homeowner with a house to fill and power bills to pay. Plus, there's a nice 0% intro APR period if you need to finance that new couch or wardrobe. It's also worth noting that you'll get 2% back in a useful "everyday" category of your choice, including groceries for your new kitchen.

DRAWBACKS

Spending in 5% bonus categories is capped, and you'll need to opt in to bonus categories each quarter.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Our pick for: Stocking the pantry

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
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CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. (Full list here).

  • 3% back on transit including taxis, rideshare services, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.

  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations.

  • 1% back on everything else.

  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020. Terms Apply.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

APR: An intro 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can rack up an industry-leading cash-back rate while stocking your kitchen and setting up your entertainment center with streaming services. Plus, if you're driving more to get to and from your new neighborhood, you'll appreciate the 3% back at gas stations, or perhaps benefit from the 3% back on transit during your commute. Terms apply. Those are a lot of homeowner-friendly categories that will put more money back in your wallet.

DRAWBACKS

The annual fee can be a turnoff, and the $6,000 spending cap in the U.S. supermarket category can be frustrating, especially if you have a large family and spend a lot on food.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Our pick for: Simplicity

Citi® Double Cash Card
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CARD DETAILS

Rewards: 

  • 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

If you’re so busy managing your new household that you don’t want to also spend time thinking about maximizing different spending categories, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer might offer the simplicity you want. You'll get a high flat rate back on everything you buy, and you can redeem for statement credit, check or gift cards — all useful ways of purchasing items for your new home.

DRAWBACKS

With no sign-up bonus, the power of this card rests on its ongoing benefits alone. And several credit cards outearn this one specifically for home-improvement and furnishing purchases.

Lowe's Advantage Card

Our pick for: Lowe's loyalists

Lowe's Advantage Card
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CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% off eligible Lowe's purchases.

  • Special financing on purchases of $299 or more.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 26.99% Variable.

WHY WE LIKE IT

If you shop at Lowe's a lot, this card's automatic 5% discount on almost all Lowe's purchases could hold significant value for you, especially as you make improvements to your new home. The special financing offer may also be useful for expensive items, but since it's a deferred-interest offer, you'll want to exercise caution. (Read on for more about why.)

DRAWBACKS

The offer of deferred-interest financing on larger purchases of $299 and up can be useful, but just be aware that deferred interest means that if you don't pay off the balance within the given time period (either six or 12 months), you'll be on the hook for all of the interest that accrued during that period, too. (If you do pay it off within the time frame, then you don't pay any interest.)

IKEA® Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: Ikea fans

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% back on Ikea purchases (including Traemand kitchen installation and at-home assembly services from TaskRabbit, which Ikea owns).

  • 3% back on dining, grocery and utility spending.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Bonus $25 IKEA Reward Certificate when you make $500 in qualifying purchases outside of IKEA, Traemand and TaskRabbit within the first 90 days of account opening with your IKEA Visa credit card.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 21.99%, Variable.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The IKEA® Visa® Credit Card can offer rich rewards if your new home seems to require endless trips to the megastore known for its Swedish meatballs and ready-to-assemble furniture. And if you don't feel like assembling that furniture yourself, the 5% reward rate extends to the assistance you pay for via TaskRabbit. Plus, the 3% reward category can be helpful to homeowners, whether they're paying energy bills or putting food on the table.

DRAWBACKS

Rewards are redeemable only at Ikea.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Our pick for: Amazon and Whole Foods fans

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
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CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.

  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0, but you must be an Amazon Prime member. Membership costs $119 annually ($59 a year for students).

APR: The ongoing APR is 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

If you have an Amazon Prime membership and plan to use it as you stock up on purchases for your new home, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card could help stretch your budget. Amazon sells essentially everything, so the 5% back rate could apply to a wide range of items, from furniture to food. Speaking of food, if you're a whole-hearted Whole Foods fan, you'll earn that same 5% rate as you shop for your pantry.

DRAWBACKS

If you're more of a Costco, Target or Walmart shopper than an Amazon one, you should consider one of those store credit cards instead. Each offers a competitive rewards structure that earns you bonus rewards or discounts for shopping at that particular retailer.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.

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