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How a Credit Card’s Unique Pitch Helped Me Fix My Roof

Sept. 11, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Low Interest and No Fee Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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The email last spring from my property management company wasn’t welcome news.

The agent informed me that, during a particularly nasty storm, a tree branch had fallen on a rental property I own, causing a significant hole in the roof that would need quick attention.

Rain was forecast in the next week or two, and obviously my tenant wouldn’t want water all over his stuff.

But I’d just shelled out a bunch of money for other, unrelated improvements to the home: plumbing and electrical work, plus replacing some rotting fascia boards on the porch. The porch project had already ballooned past my original budget after the contractor found more damage than he was expecting.

Now, on top of all that, I had an $850 leak in my roof, and no more cash to pay for it.

I considered filing a homeowners insurance claim, but the estimate didn’t meet my deductible. Even if it had, my property taxes had already gone up earlier in the year, inching my escrow payment (and hence my mortgage payment) higher. I didn’t want to add an increased insurance premium on top of that, especially if it was just for a hole in my roof (and not a whole new roof).

I did have one thing going for me: good credit. I knew it meant that I’d probably be able to qualify for a credit card with a decent 0% introductory APR period, which could help me finance the roof repair over time, without paying interest. But could I even apply for and get a new card quickly enough?

I found just what I needed in the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. I’d already been looking at it for the rewards it can earn at U.S. supermarkets and at U.S. gas stations. Plus, the no-fee card offered an interest-free period.

(All information about the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.)

Of course, I could have found similar benefits on other cards. But it was two additional features that ultimately made me pull the trigger on the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express:

  • My welcome offer: When I was looking for a card in May, I qualified for a rich “special offer” on the American Express website that was $50 higher than normal for the same amount of spending. 
  • Instant card number upon approval. In most cases, you apply for a credit card and, if you’re approved, wait for the card to arrive via snail mail. Only then can you start using it. But American Express can provide your card number as soon as you’re approved. In fact, I’d received an instant number previously from the issuer when I applied for a different card, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card.

» MORE: Credit cards you can use instantly after approval

I checked with my contractor to make sure he took American Express, and then did some quick calculations:

  • The cost of the roof repair alone would nearly meet the required spending amount for the $200 welcome offer. And since that cash back would take the form of a statement credit, it would effectively knock my repair costs down to $650 right off the bat.
  • With an instant credit card number, I could pay for the repair work to begin immediately, keeping my tenant and all his belongings safe and dry. And with 15 months before interest kicked in, I’d have time to pay it off and start rebuilding the repairs fund that this year’s projects had eaten up.

Since fixing the roof, I’ve enjoyed the ongoing benefits of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, particularly the 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (good on up to $6,000 a year in spending; after that, you get 1%). In that regard, the home improvement I was forced to do ended up improving my credit card rewards as well.

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