The next-best thing to being in Phoenix on Sunday for the Super Bowl may be to watch it on a gigantic TV screen. If that 48” screen you have now just won’t cut it, you may be heading out to do some last-minute shopping to find one that will let you feel like you’re right there.
If you do decide to splurge, what’s the best way to pay for it? Cash may be king but you may be able to do even better if you’re smart about how you pay for it. Here are three approaches.
1. Interest-Free Store Financing
If you know you’ll have the money to pay for the model you want, but you just don’t have it quite yet (think tax refunds or commissions), interest-free financing may be the way to go. Best Buy, for example, is promoting 24 months interest-free financing on home theater purchases $799 and up.
Watch out, though, most 0% store financing offers will charge you interest at a much higher rate (the “standard” interest rate) from the date of purchase if you fail to pay the balance in full by the time the promotional period ends. If you make minimum payments, you could be in for a huge shock when the standard interest rate kicks in.
2. 0% Credit Cards
What if you want to buy your TV at Costco or another retailer that isn’t offering 0% financing? You can use a credit card that offers essentially the same thing. While it’s a little late to get a new card to buy a TV for Sunday’s game, one of your current issuers may have a promotional offer that allows you to pay no interest for anywhere from 12 to 18 months. (Some offer 0% on purchases, but with others, you will have to charge the TV to another card then use a balance transfer to pay it off.)
This financing is rarely completely free. You’ll usually be charged a transfer fee of 2-4% of the purchase amount. An exception is Chase Slate, which was named the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card in America in 2014 because it offers 15 months of 0% financing with no balance transfer fee.
Keep in mind that opening a new account can cause a dip in your credit scores. It’s usually temporary, but if you are planning on refinancing your home or getting a mortgage in the spring, you may want to hold off on applying for a new credit card.
3. Reward Cards
Getting that brand-new 70” plasma screen you’ve been drooling over may be rewarding enough, but with the right card there are extra perks that will make you feel like you’ve really scored a fantastic deal.
With a cash-back rewards card, for example, you may get up to 2% cash back (or even more if your purchase happens to fall into a bonus category). Pay off the purchase in full and it’s like earning an extra discount on top of any other sale a retailer is offering. Fidelity Investment Rewards from American Express, for example, offers 2% cash back on all purchases which earned it the top rating in the 2014 Best Cash-Back Credit Cards in America. And it is hard to beat Target’s 5% discount on purchases made with a Target REDCard debit or credit card.
Worried you’re not getting the lowest price because you’re in a rush to get your TV and set it up by Sunday? With Citi Price Rewind, you can register the purchase you made on your eligible Citi credit card (the majority of Citi cards are eligible for this benefit, says Paula Kelley, Citi Cards’ managing director of Customer Solutions, Citi Cards) and Citi will search hundreds of retailers for a lower price. If the same item is found within 60 days after your purchase, Citi cardmembers can request the price difference up to $300 per item, and up to $1,200 per year. Citi says it found a lower price for one of every four items registered by cardmembers in 2014.
The downside of rewards credit cards is that interest rates are usually high. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest, you’ll pay far more than any discount you earned.
And any large purchase on a credit card can affect your credit scores by raising your “debt usage” ratio – the comparison between your credit limits and your credit card balances. If you’re not sure if you have some wiggle room there, you can get a free credit report summary from Credit.com that will tell you how you’re doing. If a new Super Bowl TV will do some damage to your credit, you may want to head to a friend’s house or sports bar to enjoy the game — and start saving for a new TV for next year’s big game.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
More on Credit Cards:
- 6 Smart Credit Card Strategies
- How Secured Cards Can Help Build Credit
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit