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Lowe’s Credit Card: Is It Right for You?

Dec. 6, 2016
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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Lowe’s home improvement stores accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, as well as Lowe’s-branded credit cards.

In the Nerds’ analysis, anyone who spends a lot of money at Lowe’s (or who spends a lot at Home Depot and is willing to switch) would be wise to add the Lowe’s credit card to his or her wallet. Getting 5% off all purchases at Lowe’s could save a homeowner hundreds of dollars a year. Just be mindful of the limitations of the card’s special financing offers.

What Lowe’s credit cards are available?

Lowe’s has credit cards for both consumers and businesses. For consumers, the primary offering is the Lowe’s Advantage Card. This is a store card, accepted only at Lowe’s and

The Lowe’s Advantage Card gives you 5% off every purchase, with a few exceptions. (It can’t be combined with coupons or other discounts, for example, and certain products, services and brands aren’t eligible for the 5% off.) You get the 5% as a discount at the time of purchase, rather than as points or cash back to be redeemed later. That means you get your cardholder benefits immediately.

For purchases of $299 or more, you can choose six months of deferred-interest financing instead of getting 5% off. (Longer periods may be available during special promotions.) If you choose this option, however, you should understand what “deferred interest” means. When a card offers deferred interest, it’s not waiving the interest. Rather, it’s setting it aside until later. If you pay off your purchase by the end of the deferred-interest period, you’re fine. But if you carry a balance past the end of the period, you’ll be charged interest on your entire purchase, going back to the day you made it. Read more about the dangers of deferred interest.

The Lowe’s Advantage Card has no annual fee. As of November 2016, the ongoing APR was 26.99%.

Should you get a Lowe’s credit card?

For homeowners and DIY types who find themselves constantly making a run to the home center for lumber, nails, lightbulbs, mulch or whatever, it’s hard to beat the instant 5% off all purchases you get with the Lowe’s Advantage Card. (By comparison, the Home Depot Consumer Credit Card offers deferred-interest financing but no rewards at all for purchases.) That’s why the Lowe’s card is one of NerdWallet’s favorite store credit cards.

If you do a lot of home improvement shopping, you have one or more Lowe’s outlets in your area, and you don’t mind carrying around a card you can use at only one store, it’s almost a no-brainer.

If you’ll be carrying a balance

We have one caution about this card. If you will need several months to pay off a purchase, you’re probably better off choosing deferred-interest financing instead of 5% off. That’s because of the very high APR on this card.

Say you buy $2,000 worth of building materials at Lowe’s, and you expect to pay it off in equal installments over six months. If you choose the 5% off, the purchase price will drop to $1,900 — but the 26.99% APR will cost you about $150 in interest, for a total of about $2,050. On the other hand, if you choose the deferred-interest financing and pay it off over six months, the cost will be a flat $2,000.

When you use deferred-interest financing, you should aim to have the balance fully paid off at least a month before the end of the financing period. If there’s a chance you’ll carry a balance past that point, your better move is to use a regular credit card with an introductory 0% APR offer. With a 0% card, once the introductory period ends, you’ll owe interest only on the remaining balance and only going forward. There’s no risk of retroactive interest as with a deferred-interest store card.

Alternatives to a Lowe’s credit card

Some people prefer to use a single credit card for everything, rather than try to remember which cards to use where. If that’s you, here are some cards that can earn you solid rewards at Lowe’s and everywhere else.

Flat-rate rewards cards

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives you 1% cash back on every purchase, plus another 1% back when you pay it off. Reward redemption options include a statement credit or check ($25 minimum). The annual fee is $0. Though many top rewards credit cards require you to have excellent credit, you can qualify for the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer with only good credit.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a good option for those who want travel rewards rather than cash back. It gives you 2 miles for every $1 you spend on anything. Miles can be redeemed for credit against travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per mile. There’s a great sign-up bonus that you might be able to earn by charging a major project at Lowe’s: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Cash back, plus a 0% APR period

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® gives you a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The annual fee is $0. You can redeem rewards in any amount for statement credit or a direct deposit into a bank account. This card comes with a solid sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And if you want to finance a major purchase, it comes with an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74% - 25.49% Variable APR.

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months gives you a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, just like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. The annual fee is $0. You can redeem rewards in any amount as a check or statement credit, and this card also comes with a sign-up offer: One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. This card, too, has an interest-free period: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR.

FOR a long 0% APR period

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has a long introductory 0% APR period: 0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR. If you’re looking to finance a large purchase at Lowe’s, this card will give you some breathing room to pay it off before interest kicks in. (And even then, you’d owe interest only on the unpaid balance going forward, rather than having all that deferred interest suddenly pile onto your bill.) If you’re forgetful, the card doesn’t charge late fees or penalty APRs (but try not to forget).

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best store credit cards

Paul Soucy is an editor at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @paulsoucy.