[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — the Discover it, American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Citi Simplicity. Disclosure: Review featured cards from our partners below.]
Summer is a time when many families find themselves moving into a new home. And whether you are a first-time homebuyer or upgrading to a new place, moving presents many challenges. Your new home will likely need furniture, housewares and decor — all at a time when your savings may have been depleted by your down payment.
New homeowners who need to make a lot of purchases from home improvement stores and department stores will want to use a credit card that offers additional rewards at those places. If you aren’t able to pay off all of your new charges immediately, you might want to choose a credit card that offers an interest-free promotional financing period.
Keep in mind, new homeowners should be extremely careful not to apply for any new lines of credit during the mortgage-application process, which could jeopardize closing. But once the paperwork is signed, you can consider a new piece of plastic. Just make sure your credit is ready to go; you typically need a good credit score to qualify for the better cards out there, and you don’t want to risk incurring an inquiry only to get denied. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.) It’s also important to read the terms and conditions carefully to be sure a particular credit card is right for you. With that in mind, here are five credit cards for new homeowners to consider.
1. Discover it
The Discover it card (see full review here) offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on select merchant categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases. And since the featured categories for the third quarter of 2016 (July to September) include home improvement stores and Amazon.com, this card offers plenty of cash back at places where new homeowners tend to shop. In addition, Discover will match the rewards earned during the first year of each new account, thereby doubling rewards. Discover also offers new applicants 12 months of 0% annual percentage rate financing on new purchases, which can give you extra time to pay off your balance before incurring interest charges. After the first 12 months, your purchase APR will fall between 11.74% and 23.74%, depending on your creditworthiness. This card also waives cardholders first late payment fee and has no penalty interest rate. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees for this card.
2. American Express Blue Cash Preferred
American Express’s Blue Cash Preferred credit card offers both strong rewards and an introductory financing offer, allowing new homeowners to earn cash back when they stock up their fridge and buy furniture or decor. You can earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each calendar year at grocery stores (then 1%), and 3% cash back at select department stores. You can also rack up 3% cash back at gas stations and 1% cash back on all other purchases. New accountholders can receive a 12-month 0% introductory APR on new purchases and $150 cash back when they spend $1,000 on new purchases within three months. After the introductory period, your APR will fall between 13.24% and 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a $95 annual fee for this card. [Editor’s Note: The terms and conditions of the American Express Blue Cash Preferred have changed since this article ran and this particular offer is no longer valid.]
3. U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa
U.S. Bank offers an interesting way for new homeowners to maximize rewards from credit card spending. The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature credit card offers 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter from two categories that you choose, and options include furniture stores (quarterly categories are subject to change). You can also receive 2% cash back on everyday categories, including gas stations or grocery stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases. New accountholders can get an 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on balance transfers completed within 30 days of account opening. The standard purchase APR will fall between 13.24% and 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness. There is no annual fee for this card.
4. Citi Simplicity
New homeowners can also choose a card with the best promotional financing offer and simplest terms. The Citi Simplicity card offers a lengthy 21 months of 0% APR financing on new purchases and balance transfers. From there, the variable APR falls between 14.24% and 24.24%, depending on creditworthiness. The card has no late fees or penalty interest rate — or an annual fee. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, Discover and American Express all advertise on Credit.com, but that does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.)
5. Wells Fargo Home Rebate Visa
This credit card from Wells Fargo allows cardholders to put rewards toward the principal on a qualifying Wells Fargo mortgage (yes, you’ll need a Wells Fargo mortgage to qualify). Cardholders can earn a 5% rebate on gas, groceries and drugstore purchases for 6 months, as well as a 1% rebate on everything else. The rebate is automatically credited to your home loan principal every time you earn a $25 rebate, though you can request a paper check. There’s no limit to how many rebates you can earn, and the card carries an 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APRs will be between 12.40% to 26.24%, based on your credit. There’s no annual fee for the card.
At publishing time, the Discover it, American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Citi Simplicity cards are offered through Credit.com product pages and Credit.com is compensated if users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. These relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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.