About to spend big and looking for rewards and cash back

About to spend big and looking for rewards and cash back
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My wife and I are about to have a baby AND we are doing some major renovations on our house. Needless to say that we are going to be spending a lot of our savings in the coming year. We are financially in a good spot but want to get a non-travel credit card that will give us some rewards.

Initially, we looked at the discover card but thought that the 5% rotating rewards would not fit some of our big expenses. For example, we are about to drop 8k on countertops, $500 on flooring and who knows how much on the baby that is coming!

We’d love to get some cash back and signing $$ in our first year.

What do people recommend?


Hi DaveSok!

First, congratulations on the impending arrival! It’s exciting stuff to grow your family :slight_smile:

I have a couple of suggestions for you with a caveat: You had said that you were financially in a good spot and that you’d be using your savings to pay for the renovations. Based on this I’m inferring that you won’t need to take advantage of a 0% APR offer on your purchases.

As far as credit cards go, you were wise to explore the categories on the Discover card before making a decision. When it comes to any rewards cards–travel, non-travel, cash-back etc, picking one that aligns with your spending habits is the key to maximizing your card’s potential.

In general, there’s two ways to go when picking a cash-back card: You can either choose a flat-rate cash back card that pays the same on all of your purchases or pick one that offers enhanced rewards in certain categories. The latter requires more work but can potentially be more lucrative depending on how you spend.

But, most of these 5% cash-back categories—like the Discover it card you had mentioned–cap the quarterly spending at that enhanced rate at $1,500. So, even if you bought your $8,000 countertops at a home improvement store when that was one of the 5% categories, you’d only earn 5% on the first $1,500 and then the remaining $6,500 would earn at a rate of 1%. From that purchase, you’d net $75 from the 5% and another $65 from the 1% of earnings.

In that scenario, you’d earn more on a flat-rate card that pays 1.5% cash-back or higher. The Citi Double Cash could be a great choice for you as it pays 1% when you make your purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill. On an $8,000 purchase, overall you’d net $160.

Keep in mind too, that home improvement expenses and the ones that go along with being a new parent are not typically going to be at the same stores.

When it comes to a little one, you may end up doing a lot of your shopping at Costco, for example or Target and those cards at one of those retailers might be the ones that snag you the most rewards.

When it comes to sign-up bonuses, those are always nice to earn but consider how much utility you’re going to get out of that card beyond the initial bonus. Some of the biggest sign-up bonuses on credit cards are currently tied to premium travel cards, which is what you stated you weren’t looking for.

You may want to check out this article: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/best-credit-cards-for-large-purchases/ to help you narrow down what card or cards are best for you as your enter this phase of big expenditures.

I hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more info to help you decide what new card or cards might be a fit.



Hi Robin,

I can’t thank you enough for the articulate and thoughtful advice! While I have considered much of what you suggested, my thoughts were far less organized and developed.

Thank you, thank you!

The Citi double cash seems to be the one that is most straightforward AND will help us consistently earn some extra money as we use it on varied types of purchases. My wife and I do not want to be locked into one store to shop at.

I teach students at the high school level and only hope that they develop the skills to respond in such a way as you did.


That’s very kind of you to say! This is exactly what these forums are for- to come with questions and leave with clear answers. I’m so happy you got what you were looking for!!!