Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Sears Credit Card Login – Manage My Sears Card: searscard.com

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Updated August 16, 2017 – We are all asked at check out if we have that store’s credit card. So it’s no surprise that Sears also has a store credit card(searscard.com). Which leads most people to ask, should I get a SearsCard? There are personal factors to consider: do you have a good credit score, is it only for in-store purchases, what precautions are taken against identity theft, is there an annual fee and what are the interest rates are a few concerns customers have. We are in no way affiliated with Sears Credit Card, continue reading for Sears Credit Card login access.

Many consumers believe that the Sears Credit Card gives them lots of flexibility over other store credit cards. Sears partners with Citibank giving customers the ability to use any of these CitiBank Cards at all Sears and associated stores including Sears.com, the company’s outlet store, Great Indoors, Land’s End and K-Mart. Citibank offers 4 different Sears credit cards to choose from:

The Home Improvement card is excellent for those getting ready to make some home upgrades especially if you’re low on savings. The Commercial One credit card is great for business owners looking to get some extra benefits. It’s a good idea to check out searscard.com before you make your decision between the different CitiCard. The website also allows you to fill out your Sears Credit Card application

This is the basic card that can be used at all stores and any affiliated stores that fall under the Sears Holding Company’s umbrella that includes, K-Mart, Land’s End, all other Sears stores such as Hardware, Grand, Hometown Stores, and Auto Centers as well as all of the associated online stores. The standard Sears Credit Card is so versatile it can even be used at unexpected locations like Sears Repair and Home Services, Travel, Dental, Optical, Portrait Studios and Sears Flowers!

Some added perks the Sears card are no annual fee, special financing offers, monthly coupons and sales events, $0 liability to unauthorized purchases and identity theft resolution services. Additionally, it is easy to make returns and exchanges or purchase extend warranties. There are no fees if you want to add a family member to your account or get extra cards. This card does have a variable interest rate so you will want to make your payments in full and on-time each month.

Even though there are many benefits to having a Sears Citi Credit Card this basic card cannot be used outside of Sears and its affiliated stores or at ATMs. With the variable interest rate, it may not a be the right credit card for bad credit individuals. However, the card does provide many safeguards for identity protection and credit card fraud.

Owning a home comes with many joys and struggles. When it is time to remodel or upgrade your fixtures and appliances like your washer and dryer or perhaps you are wanting to upgrade your refrigerator to a commercial refrigerator because your business is growing beyond your home’s walls. It can be a struggle to pay for those appliance upgrades upfront. With the Sears Home Improvement Account, homeowners can relish in a low-interest credit card. This SearsCard.com credit card was designed specifically to help those customers looking for big-ticket items for their home renovation and remodeling projects. This credit card will also cover items such as windows and doors, vinyl siding, wallpaper and your heating and cooling needs. Not everyone has a big truck they can haul their purchases home in so that’s why the Sears Home Improvement Card also covers delivery and installation.

With no annual fee and the other benefits of the in-store credit card like identity theft protection with Citi Identity Theft Solutions. This service will cover you with $0 liability for unauthorized purchase and protection against credit card fraud.

If you were feeling a little constrained by the basic in-store credit card, rejoice at the advantages of the Sears Citi MasterCard! Unlike the basic SearsCard.com the MasterCard can be used at outside stores. You also have the ability to now get cash advances from banks and pull money from ATM machines. Customers that apply for the MasterCard and pass the credit check can also use this card to consolidate balances from other cards. With the same flexibility and incentives as the in-store card, you will be surprised to learn there are even more pluses to the Citi MasterCard. Customers who qualify can enjoy interest-free financing, monthly savings, and promotions, and by using your MasterCard account you will earn points for every dollar spent.

The Commercial One credit card was created exclusively for companies and business owners. It provides an efficient way to purchase and monitor transactions with simplified expense tracking and record keeping. Customers can make purchases by phone, fax, and in-store and received itemized invoice details. With the SearsCreditCard.com companies and business owners also receive incentives from Sears Business Resource Center which provides cardholders with tips and information to make their business more successful.

Starting the Sears Credit Card Application Process

The SearsCard application process is simple, although qualifying if you have bad credit may prove to be more difficult. If you aren’t sure of your credit score you can have a free credit report run by one of the credit bureaus. You can apply in person, by phone or mail and online. For each of these methods, you will need to have your financial information on hand.

If you are wishing to apply for your SearsCard you will have to visit Citibank. Citibank manages all of the Sears credit card applications and online accounts and you can find all available credit card options at Citibank.com. Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Since taking over all of Sears Credit Card login accounts Citibank Online has made setting up your online account easy. Giving users the convenience of making payments, checking balances, viewing payment history and updating their account all from their smartphone or computer. To setup a new account, you will have to register your card and establish Sears Credit Card login and password. Simply go to “My Card Account” at the top of the page and follow the instructions to either begin as a new user or login as a return user. Best credit card for home improvement purchases

It should be known that many of the issues surrounding the SearsCard come from its management by Citibank. With many customers complaining that their accounts have been sent to collection agencies unjustly. It is wise for any credit card user to monitor their accounts to make sure they aren’t being taken advantage of.

Depending on your need and application the Sears Credit Card offers several plans to accommodate specific needs as well as general in-store purchases. It is up to the consumer to decide which plan is best for you and your financial situation to take advantage of this great credit card.

To reach the Technical Assistance Helpdesk with questions about your credit card login, please dial:

Sears Private Label General Inquiries, P.O. Box 6275, Sioux Falls, S.D., 57117

Sears Private Label Payments, P.O. Box 9001055, Louisville, KY 40290-1055,

Sears Payment Center/Overnight, 6716 Grade Lane, Building 9, Suite 910, Louisville, KY, 40213.

If you forgot your SearsCard password, please see Reset Your Password


24 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Travel rewards credit cards fall into several broad categories. First, airline rewards credit cards are designed to reward spending with specific airlines or airline partnerships. When purchasing airfare, in-flight incidentals, and possibly other travel-related items, cardholders earn points at accelerated rates. Once enough points are racked up, they can be redeemed for free or discounted flights, free or reduced baggage fees, and other goodies. Some airline rewards cards offer additional perks and benefits, such as airport lounge access, discounts with hotel partners, and bonus miles for reaching certain travel milestones.

Hotel credit cards focus their rewards firepower on hotel stays and related expenses. Many major hotel brands and brand families offer at least a handful of credit cards that reward cardholders for room, food, and incidental purchases (such as spa treatments) at properties they own. Many hotel rewards credit cards also accumulate points for everyday outlays, such as regular restaurant meals, gasoline, and supermarket purchases. Cardholders can redeem their points for free or discounted nights and other hotel expenses.

Lately, growing numbers of cash back credit cards have jumped into the travel rewards game. General-purpose cards often offer accelerated cash back earnings on gasoline, airfare, and restaurant purchases – all critical, and sometimes costly, expenses for frequent travelers. Cash back rewards can be redeemed for merchandise and gift cards purchased online, airfare and hotel stays purchased directly through providers, and actual cash or statement credits.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you likely stand to benefit from all of these card types. And if you own your own business, you can count on many consumer travel credit cards having small business credit card counterparts – often with additional features and benefits for small business owners. Whether you’re an individual or business customer, many come with attractive promotions and sign-up bonuses that can be hard for deal-seeking applicants to resist.

Here’s a look at today’s best travel rewards credit cards:

Unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases; Double Miles in Your First Year as a Cardmember

It’s hard to get simpler than Discover it Miles. For every dollar you spend, you earn 1.5 miles, with no limits, purchase categories, or other restrictions.

Miles are eligible for redemption in any amount as statement credits for travel purchases charged to your Discover it Miles card. Travel purchases include airfare bought directly from the airline (or from an online platform, such as Kayak), hotel stays (again, direct or through an online platform), travel agent commissions, rental car purchases, train fare, and commuter transportation, including short-haul rail and bus tickets.

Discover it Miles comes with a nifty first-year bonus: All miles earned in the first 12 months are automatically doubled, with no limits or restrictions. Notably, this card has no foreign transaction fees.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There’s no sign-up bonus, although Discover’s double first-year miles deal is nice.
  • Key Fees. There’s no foreign transaction fee or annual fee. Balance transfers run 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, while late and returned payments cost $35.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% purchase APR and 10.99% balance transfer APR for 12 months.
  • Other Perks. You’re entitled to free WiFi on any flight, payable as a statement credit. You also get a free FICO score every month with your statement.

See our Discover it Miles Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.

1.25 Miles for Every $1 Spent; Redeem for Virtually Any Travel Purchase (Including Flights) or Cash Back Equivalents

Capital One VentureOne Rewards is a somewhat less potent version of Capital One Venture Rewards, but with significant perks: It’s a bit easier to qualify for, there’s no annual fee, and you get a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months. Rewards-wise, you earn an unlimited 1.25 miles for every $1 spent on everything, every day. Miles are always worth $0.01 upon redemption.

As with the Venture Rewards Card, VentureOne lets you redeem points for statement credits on just about any travel purchase, as well as cash equivalents such as statement credits and paper checks. Redemptions start at $25.

One big perk of the VentureOne Rewards card is a nice sign-up bonus that actually outdoes the Venture Rewards Card’s, pound for pound: When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months, you get 20,000 bonus miles.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 20,000 bonus miles, worth $200, when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Key Fees. Fees are minimal: no annual, foreign transaction, or balance transfer assessments. Late payments cost $35, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. Enjoy a 0% purchase APR for 12 months.
  • Other Perks. You get a free monthly FICO score and useful financial simulation, credit-building, and planning tools from Capital One Credit Tracker.

1.5 Points per $1 Spent on Every Purchase; Nice Sign-up Bonus

BankAmericard Travel Rewards is another simple, straight-shooting travel rewards card. This one also earns you an unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on everything, every day. However, there is a redemption minimum: $25, regardless of how you redeem. Redemptions come as statement credits for virtually any travel-related purchase, including gas station purchases, baggage fees, car rentals, and airfare, as well as gift cards and general merchandise. Points are worth $0.01 apiece upon redemption.

If you’re a fan of sign-up bonuses, you’re going to love the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card: When you spend at least $1,000 in 90 days, you get 20,000 bonus points. Watch out for a rather high APR, but enjoy the lack of foreign transaction fees. Also, when you open a Bank of America deposit account, you automatically get a 10% annual points boost: If you earn 10,000 in a 12-billing-cycle period, you end that period with 11,000.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get 20,000 bonus points, worth up to $200 when redeemed for travel purchases, for spending at least $1,000 within 90 days of opening your account.
  • Key Fees. There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3%, while cash advances run the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $37 and $27, respectively.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles.
  • Other Perks. Bank of America Preferred customers earn anywhere from 25% to 75% extra points per year, but minimum balance requirements of $25,000 to as much as $100,000 apply. If you can’t swing those minimums, open a Bank of America deposit account to earn an annual 10% point bonus.

Unlimited 3 Expedia+ Bonus Points per $1 Spent on Travel Purchases Through Expedia; 1 Point per $1 Spent on Everything Else

Expedia+ Card from Citi is a truly all-purpose travel rewards card. All travel-related purchases made through Expedia earn you an unlimited 3 Expedia+ points per $1 spent. Eligible travel purchases include hotels, airfare, vacation packages, car rentals, and more.

Redeem your accumulated points for airline tickets, hotel vouchers, and vacation packages purchased through Expedia. Depending on how you redeem, your redemption minimums are likely to vary – hotel redemptions start at 3,500 points, and flights are somewhat higher. Points are generally worth $0.01 apiece.

The Expedia+ Card has an above-average sign-up bonus: If you make at least $1,000 in total purchases within 3 months, you get 15,000 bonus Expedia+ points. Also, you automatically earn Expedia Silver Status, which confers a 10% points earning bonus, for as long as your account is open and in good standing.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You earn 15,000 Expedia+ rewards bonus points (worth up to $150) when you make $1,000 in total purchases within 3 months.
  • Key Fees. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount, but there’s no annual fee. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $35.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Expedia Silver Status bumps your total points earnings by a 10% point bonus at no additional charge. You also get access to VIP amenities – such as spa credits and free parking – at 1,100 participating hotels worldwide.

See our Expedia+ Card Review for more information.

6 Hilton Honors Points per $1 Spent at Hotels; 3 Points per $1 Spent at Supermarkets, Drugstores & Gas Stations

The Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card earns 6 Hilton Honors bonus points per $1 spent on Hilton portfolio hotel stays; 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations, drugstores, and supermarkets; and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.

As with the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card, you can redeem points for hotel stays and incidental expenses at variable rates and minimums starting at a minimum of 5,000 points. Point values vary by property, but are generally worth less than $0.01. For instance, a $150-per-night room in New York City ranges from 30,000 to 60,000 points. As long as you remain in good standing, you enjoy Hilton Honors Silver Status, which entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer and automatically boosts your total point earnings by 15%.

This card comes with an attainable sign-up bonus of 75,000 points when you charge at least $2,000 in 3 months. However, the 3% foreign transaction fee is a big drawback for overseas travelers.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you make at least $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening, you earn 75,000 bonus points, worth up to $750.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee, but foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $35 each.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. You can upgrade to Gold Status, which comes with a points boost of 25%, when you stay 4 times within 90 days of account opening or spend $20,000 in your first year. The card also comes with Citi’s Private Pass benefits, including VIP treatment and special access at popular events.

2 Points per $1 Spent on Dining & Travel; One-to-One Transfer to Participating Frequent Flyer & Hotel Guest Programs

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred earns an unlimited 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on dining and travel, plus 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. Plus, you’re allowed to transfer points at a one-to-one ratio to such participating frequent traveler programs as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and IHG Club Rewards – 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points become 1,000 Rapid Rewards points, and so forth. In other words, this is truly an all-purpose travel rewards card.

Ultimate Rewards points are worth up to $0.0125 apiece when redeemed for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal. They’re worth $0.01 when redeemed for non-travel purchases and cash equivalents, such as gift cards, statement credits, direct deposits, checks, and physical merchandise. The redemption minimum is always 2,000 points.

Look out for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s awesome solid sign-up bonus: When you spend at least $4,000 in 3 months, you get 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points. However, there’s a $95 annual fee, which is waived for one year.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get 50,000 bonus points, which can be worth as much as $625 when used to purchase airfare and hotels through Ultimate Rewards, when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months. You also get 5,000 bonus points simply for making one purchase and adding an authorized user in the same 3-month period.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $95, waived for the first year. There’s no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of 5% or $10.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. You get VIP treatment and exclusive deals for select entertainment and sporting events, including the PGA Championship.

2 Miles for Every $1 Spent; Redeem for Virtually Any Travel Purchases (Including Flights) or Cash Back Equivalents

Capital One Venture Rewards earns you 2 miles for every $1 you spend, no matter how much you spend or where you shop. Miles are worth $0.01 at all times.

Like Discover it Miles and BankAmericard Travel Rewards, the Venture Rewards card allows you to redeem points for statement credits on a wide range of travel purchases, including flights, rental cars, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, and incidental expenses. You can also redeem for general statement credits or paper checks, though redeeming for travel rewards can boost the value of your points beyond the standard $0.01. Redemption minimums start at $25.

This card has a competitive sign-up bonus. When you spend at least $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership, you earn 40,000 bonus miles. Just be aware that there is a $59 annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 40,000 bonus miles, worth $400, when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $59 annual fee, though it’s waived for the first year. There’s no balance transfer fee or foreign transaction fee. Late payments cost $35, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Capital One offers free and unlimited FICO score access, as well as a host of useful credit-building tools through Capital One Credit Tracker.

See our Capital One Venture Rewards Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.

8. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

2 Starpoints per $1 Spent at Starwood (Including Sheraton, Westin, and W) and Marriott properties; 20% Airline Points Transfer Bonus

For every $1 spend at participating Starwood and Marriott hotel properties, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express earns you 2 Starpoints. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. Note the $99 annual fee.

Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights at Starwood hotels at variable per-point values – up to $0.025, in some cases. You’re also allowed to transfer Starpoints to any of 30 participating frequent flyer programs (150 airlines in all). When you transfer 20,000 or more points, you get a 5,000 Starpoint bonus. Redemption minimums vary based on the hotel class you book, but start at 2,000 points for the lowest class.

Another big perk of the Starwood Preferred Guest Card is a solid sign-up bonus: 25,000 bonus Starpoints for at least $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. Free global WiFi access and lack of foreign transaction fees are nice perks as well.

If you’re a business owner, check out this card’s business credit card version: the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. It’s very similar to this one, although the business card has a higher sign-up bonus spending threshold ($5,000 versus $3,000).

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints (worth up to $625) for spending at least $3,000 ($5,000 for the business card) within the first 3 months.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $95, waived during the first year, but there are no foreign transaction fees. Late and returned payments cost $37, while balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no introductory APR.
  • Other Perks. This card comes with a host of fringe benefits, including Return Protection (which pays up to $300 per item and $1,200 per calendar year for rejected merchandise returns) and free WiFi at thousands of hotels and Boingo hotspots.

2 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases

Barclaycard Arrival Plus is another great airline rewards card that also happens to be useful for everyday purchases. Every dollar spent earns you 2 miles, with no spending caps or restrictions. Miles are always worth $0.01 at redemption. Note that there’s a $100 redemption minimum – substantially higher than the minimum of some competing cards.

You can redeem your miles via statement credit for just about any travel purchase, including airfare, car rentals, hotels, and more. You always get a 5% rebate when you redeem, so a 10,000 mile redemption results in a 500 point deposit back into your account. There’s a solid sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 90 days, but watch out for the $89 annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of card membership, you get 50,000 bonus miles (worth $500).
  • Key Fees. The $89 annual fee is waived during the first year, and there’s no foreign transaction fee. Late and returned payments cost $37, while balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months, as long as the transfer is made within 45 days of account opening.
  • Other Perks. Barclaycard comes with a host of concierge services, including exclusive events and 24/7 travel booking.

10. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

2 SkyMiles per $1 Spent on Delta Airfare; 1 SkyMile per $1 Spent on Everything Else

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express is an airline rewards card that earns you an unlimited 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent on Delta airfare and in-flight purchases. All other purchases earn 1 SkyMile per $1 spent. SkyMiles are worth as much as $0.0075 apiece, though redemption value varies by method. Redemption minimums start at 10,000 SkyMiles.

Although this card has a $95 annual fee, the sign-up bonus helps – 30,000 SkyMiles (roughly $225 value) when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. Low balance transfer fees and no foreign transaction fees help as well. And if you own a business, check out the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card, which is virtually identical.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 30,000 Delta SkyMiles, worth about $225, when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Separately, get a $50 statement credit when you purchase a Delta flight with your card within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year, but no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments both cost $37.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Cardholders always get priority boarding and first checked bag free. You also get a 20% discount (via statement credit) on all in-flight food, beverages, and entertainment purchases with Delta.

2 United Airlines Miles per $1 Spent on United Airfare; 1 Mile per $1 Spent on Everything Else

The information related to the United MileagePlus Explorer credit card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The United MileagePlus Explorer Card is a straightforward airline rewards card that earns 1 United Airlines mile per $1 spent on all purchases, every day, and 2 miles per $1 spent on United airfare. Neither category comes with spending restrictions or caps, though there is a $95 annual fee to watch for. When redeemed for United Airlines airfare purchases, points are worth up to $0.02 apiece, with shorter flights generally boasting higher point values. Redemption minimums vary based on flight distance and cost – short-haul domestic flight redemptions start at 10,000.

If you like attainable sign-up bonuses, you’ll like United MileagePlus Explorer: When you spend at least $1,000 in 3 months, you earn 30,000 bonus miles.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 30,000 bonus United Airlines miles (worth up to $600) when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year, and no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, while cash advances are the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. When you purchase flights with your United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you and a companion get a free checked bag. You always get priority boarding as well.

3 Avios Points per $1 Spent on British Airways and Partner Airfare

The information related to the British Airways Visa Signature Card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The British Airways Visa Signature Card isn’t just for overseas travel. Every $1 spent on British Airways and select partner airfare and incidentals earns you 3 points – British Airways partners include Iberia and the OpenSkies alliance. You also earn 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

Redeem your points for airfare purchases with British Airways and its partner airlines (including American Airlines) at variable point values. Shorter routes, particularly within North America, tend to be worth more. Redemption minimums vary based on route length. Be aware that there is a $95 annual fee.

If you can manage $30,000 in annual spending in any year, British Airways doubles your redeemed rewards on one flight, allowing a companion to come along.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus Avios when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening, an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend at least $10,000 within the first year, and a further 25,000 points when you spend at least $20,000 within the first year.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $95. There’s no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. If you spend at least $30,000 in any calendar year, you get a Travel Together ticket good for 2 years. The ticket entitles you to redeem accumulated Avios rewards for any flight at regular redemption rates, and then bring a companion along with no extra charge (in dollars or Avios).

5 Marriott Rewards Points for Every $1 Spent at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton & Starwood Hotels; 2 Points per $1 Spent on Airline, Rental Car & Restaurant Purchases

The information related to the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Card is similar to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card, though its $85 annual fee is much lower. Every $1 spent at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood hotels worldwide earns you an unlimited 5 Marriott Rewards points, and you earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 for purchases made directly with airlines and rental car agencies – though not through online portals like Kayak and Expedia. Restaurant purchases also earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent, and all other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.

Marriott Rewards points can be redeemed starting at 7,500 points. Their value varies depending on the property type they’re redeemed at – for instance, a Residence Inn in Birmingham, Alabama (regular room rates $40 to $100 per night), offers rooms for 7,500 points per night, while a similarly priced Fairfield Inn & Suites in Auburn, Alabama, requires 25,000 points per room-night.

Marriott Rewards Premier also has a very generous sign-up bonus: When you spend just $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, you get 80,000 Marriott Rewards points.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 80,000 bonus Marriott Rewards points, potentially worth more than $800, when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening. Additionally, earn 7,500 Marriott Rewards points when you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $85, and there’s no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5% and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. On your account anniversary, you get a credit equal to 1 free night’s stay at select Marriott hotels (Category 1-5).

5 Points per $1 Spent at Ritz-Carlton & Marriott Properties; 2 Points per $1 Spent on Airfare, Car Rentals & Restaurants

The information related to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards earns you an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties; an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on airfare, car rentals, and restaurant purchases; and an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. At the end of each year, your annual points earnings always get a 10% boost, no matter how much, or how little, you spend. Watch out for the hefty annual fee of $395.

Redeem points for free nights at most Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties (excluding Ritz-Carlton EDITION properties), as well as airline miles with such partners as Lufthansa, vacation packages that include Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotel stays, and various merchants’ gift cards. Redemption minimums start at 30,000 points for hotel redemptions and rise from there. Points are generally worth less than $0.01 apiece.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card’s sign-up bonus is very nice: 2 free double-occupancy room nights at select Ritz-Carlton hotels when you spend at least $4,000 in 90 days. Other perks, which go a long way toward offsetting the cost of the annual fee, include a $100 annual hotel credit and a $300-per-year airline travel credit, good for incidental expenses and airport lounge memberships.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 2 free nights at participating Ritz-Carlton Hotels when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening. This bonus is potentially worth up to $1,000, depending on the property you select.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $395. There’s no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. The $300 annual travel credit can be used to pay for airplane seat upgrades, airport lounge access at one selected airport lounge, and baggage fees on any airline. The $100 hotel credit can be used for dining, recreation, and spa services, with any 2-night paid stay at participating Ritz-Carlton (not EDITION) properties. Also, when you stay at the Ritz-Carlton for up to 7 nights in a row, you’re entitled to an upgrade to Ritz-Carlton Club Level. A maximum of 3 upgrades are allowed per year.

5 IHG Rewards Points per $1 Spent at Intercontinental Hotels; 2 Points per $1 Spent on Gas, Groceries & Restaurants

The information related to the IHG Rewards Club Select Card has been collected by Money Crashers and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The IHG Rewards Club Select Card earns you 5 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, including Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites. Purchases at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations earn 2 points to the dollar, while purchases everywhere else earn 1 point per $1 spent. There aren’t any spending caps or restrictions. However, the card does come with a $49 annual fee.

You can redeem points for hotel nights at select Intercontinental properties, including most Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses, plus gift cards and online merchandise purchases. Redemption minimums vary by redemption method and date, but start at 10,000 points for hotel nights. When redeemed, points are generally worth about $0.005 each, though that amount varies by brand. You get a 10% rebate when you redeem points, with no maximums. Rebated points drop back into your account. If you redeem 50,000 points, you see a 5,000 bonus in your account afterwards.

Another perk of the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card: 70,000 bonus points when you spend at least $2,000 within 3 months of opening your account.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 70,000 IHG Rewards points, good for up to $350 in stays at select InterContinental Hotels (including Holiday Inn), when you spend at least $2,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $49 annual fee, waived in the first year, and no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. In addition to the 10% redemption rebate, you get 1 free night per year at select IHG hotels for as long as you remain in good standing. You also qualify for Platinum Elite status upon request.

16. U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card

2 Points per $1 Spent on Cell Phone Purchases; 1 Point per $1 Spent on Everything Else

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards earns you 2 points per $1 spent on cell phone purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Plus, each billing cycle, you automatically earn double points in one of 3 common spending categories – airline purchases, gas, or groceries, whichever you spend the most in during that cycle. Mind the $49 annual fee.

Redemptions start at 5,000 points, and points are worth about $0.02 each. You can redeem for airfare on more than 150 airlines, plus gift cards, statement credits, and merchandise purchased through the FlexPerks portal.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 20,000 bonus FlexPoints, good for up to $400 in flights and other travel purchases, when you spend $2,000 within 4 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $49 annual fee, waived for the first year, and no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 4%. Late and returned payments cost $38 and $35, respectively.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Every time you redeem FlexPoints for travel, you get a $25 airline credit good for in-flight purchases, baggage fees, and other incidental expenses.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

3 ThankYou Points per $1 Spent on Airfare & Hotels; 2 Points per $1 Spent on Dining & Entertainment; 1 Point per $1 Spent on Everything Else

Citi Prestige is a generous, but pricey, travel rewards card that earns you an unlimited 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent on all airfare and hotel purchases, 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. You can redeem points for a host of purchases and credits at Citi’s ThankYou shopping portal: airfare, hotels, gift cards, clothing, electronics, and online bill-pay credits. Redemption minimums and point values vary based on how you redeem. The best redemption value is usually airfare, with point value ranging up to $0.0125.

The Citi Prestige Card has a solid sign-up bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points when you spend at least $4,000 in 3 months. The biggest drawback is the hefty annual fee of $450, but the lavish perks more than make up for it for big spenders or frequent travelers.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 40,000 bonus ThankYou points when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $450 annual fee ($50 extra for each additional authorized user), but no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $35.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Cardmembers are entitled to complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, hundreds of other VIP airport lounges worldwide through Citi’s Priority Pass Select program, and a complimentary 4th night free at any hotel, worldwide. Also, enjoy a $250 air travel credit each year, good for American Airlines airfare and incidentals.

4 Expedia+ Bonus Points per $1 Spent on ExpediaTravel Purchases; 2 Points per $1 Spent on Dining & Entertainment; 1 Point per $1 Spent on Everything Else

Expedia+ Voyager is the bigger sibling of the Expedia+. You earn an unlimited 4 Expedia+ points per $1 spent on travel purchases made through Expedia’s portal, 2 points per $1 spent on entertainment and dining purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Redemption procedures and values are the same as the Expedia+ Card from Citi.

You do pay a price for your accelerated earnings though: a $95 annual fee. However, you automatically qualify for Expedia Gold Status, boosting your point earnings by 30% on all purchases.

  • Sign-up Bonus. If you spend $2,000 within 3 months, you get 25,000 Expedia+ rewards bonus points.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee and 3% foreign transaction fee. Late and returned payments run $35, while cash advances and balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Card membership automatically entitles you to complementary Expedia Gold Status. Gold Status boosts your point earning power by 30% – plus it offers access to room upgrades and VIP amenities at more than 1,700 hotels worldwide. You also earn $100 total toward incidental purchases on any of 10 participating airlines each year.

2 AAdvantage Miles per $1 Spent on American Airlines Airfare

If you desire to carry the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Card, but don’t qualify because you don’t own your own business, apply for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard instead. For every $1 you spend on American Airlines purchases, this card earns an unlimited 2 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. All other purchases earn 1 mile per $1 spent.

As with CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select, you can redeem for virtually any purchase with American Airlines. Minimum redemption amounts and point values vary based on purchase type, but generally fall on either side of $0.01 (for instance, short-haul domestic one-ways require 7,500 to 12,500 points for non-preferred coach seats – usually about a $100 value). You always get an automatic 10% miles rebate. For example, 10,000 redeemed miles translate to a 1,000-mile deposit back into your account.

Take advantage of this card’s sign-up bonus by spending at least $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account. If you do, you earn 30,000 bonus miles. Just be aware of the $95 annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening, you get 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles (generally worth around $300) in return.
  • Key Fees. The $95 annual fee is waived during the first year. There’s no foreign transaction fee, but late fees range from $15 to $39, depending on balance size. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost $5 or 3%, whichever is more.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. You always get a free checked bag for yourself and up to 4 companions, as well as Group 1 priority boarding on all American Airlines flights. Any in-flight purchase with American earns a 25% discount.

3 Miles per $1 Spent on Alaska Airlines Airfare & Other Purchases

If you regularly fly with Alaska Airlines or one of its partners, it’s hard to beat the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. Every dollar you spend on Alaska Airlines airfare and vacation packages earns you 3 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles, with no caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent.

When you’re ready to redeem, your miles are good for Alaska Airlines airfare, seat upgrades, and other incidental purchases. You can also redeem for airfare and incidentals with any of the airline’s 12 global partners, such as LAN and Cathay Pacific. Point values generally range on either side of $0.01. Redemption minimums vary based on how you redeem, but start at 10,000 points for domestic flights.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card’s sign-up bonus is nice: 30,000 miles when you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 3 months. Although this card has a $75 annual fee, it comes with a $50 credit toward a new Alaska Airlines Board Room airport lounge membership.

  • Sign-up Bonus. 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months, worth about $300.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $75 annual fee and 3% foreign transaction fee – which is unusual for an airline rewards card. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%, while late fees run $37 and returned payments cost $27.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. You get your first checked bag free for yourself and up to 6 companions. Plus, companion airfare costs a maximum of $121, regardless of the actual ticket price.

10 Hilton Honors Points per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 Points per $1 Spent on Airfare & Car Rentals

For every $1 spent on Hilton portfolio hotel stays, the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card earns 10 Hilton Honors bonus points. Every $1 spent on airfare and car rentals earns 5 Honors points. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, with no caps or minimums. This card comes with a $95 annual fee.

As long as your account is in good standing, you automatically earn Hilton Honors Gold Status, which entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer. Gold Status also entitles you to a point earnings boost of 25%, with no restrictions. Redeem your points for hotel nights and incidental purchases, such as spa treatments and dining, with variable redemption minimums (starting at 5,000 points) and point values (generally less than $0.01 apiece). Spend at least $2,500 within 4 months of account opening to earn 2 free weekend nights at select Hilton portfolio hotels.

  • SignupBonus. Earn 2 free weekend nights (standard room, double occupancy) at more than 4,000 Hilton portfolio hotels worldwide when you spend at least $2,500 within 4 months of account opening. Depending on the property you select, this bonus is potentially worth $500 or more.
  • Key Fees. There’s no foreign transaction fee, but the $95 annual fee isn’t waived during the first year. Late and returned payments cost $35 each. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. When you spend $10,000 in a given year, you get an additional free weekend room night on your cardmember anniversary. Card membership also comes with 24/7 travel and event booking too. Extra perks include Citi’s Private Pass program, which gives you special access, VIP treatment, and other benefits at sporting events and concerts.

1.5 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases; Few Restrictions on Redemption

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business is a business credit card that earns you an unlimited 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, all the time. You can redeem accumulated miles in any amount for statement credits on virtually any travel purchase, including purchases with any airline and any hotel, at a standard point value of $0.01 apiece. Redemption minimums start at $25.

The Capital One Spark Miles Select Business Card has a lot of other perks too, including a sign-up bonus worth up to $200 in travel purchases, no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, and an unlimited number of employee cards (all of which accrue unlimited miles) at no charge.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 20,000 bonus miles (worth $200).
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, or balance transfer fee (aside from the variable APR). Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% intro purchase APR for 9 months.
  • Other Perks. Capital One’s emergency assistance services offer up to $100,000 in reimbursements for trips and reservations cancelled due to unforeseen events, such as accidents and illnesses.

2 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases; Redeem for Virtually Any Travel Purchase

Capital One Spark Miles for Business is very similar to Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business, although it does have a $59 annual fee (unlike its cousin). You always earn 2 miles per $1 spent, regardless of how much you spend or what you buy. All redemption-related considerations, including the $0.01-per-mile value, are identical to the Spark Miles Select card. All in all, this is a great card for frequent travelers.

The sign-up bonus is nice, if a bit hard to attain: 50,000 bonus miles, good for $500 in travel purchases, with at least $4,500 spent in 3 months. And remember that, as a business credit card, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business isn’t open to consumers.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus miles (worth $500) when you spend at least $4,500 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Key Fees. The $59 annual fee is waived for the first year. There’s no balance transfer fee (aside from the APR) or foreign transaction fee, but cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • Other Perks. Add additional employee cards at no extra charge. When you need to cancel trips due to factors beyond your control, you’re covered up to $100,000.

24. CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®

2 AAdvantage Miles per $1 Spent on American Airlines Airfare & Certain Select Categories

Need a business card that rewards you for travel as well as everyday purchases? When you spend $1 with CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select on American Airlines, telecommunications, gas station, and car rental purchases, you earn an unlimited 2 miles. You earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases, with no restrictions or caps.

You can redeem your reward for American Airlines airfare and incidentals purchases. Minimum redemption amounts and point values vary based on purchase type. Airfare redemptions start at 7,500 points, and incidentals start at 500 points. Point values fall on either side of $0.01. This card does have a $95 annual fee, but there’s no foreign transaction fee – a nice perk for global travelers.

If you don’t own your own business, you probably won’t qualify for this card. Instead, apply for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, which has very similar features and benefits.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles (worth about $300).
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived during the first year, and there’s never a foreign transaction fee. Late fees range from $15 to $39, depending on the size of the overdue balance. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no into APR.
  • Other Perks. You always get 25% off in-flight purchases and priority (Group 1) boarding on American Airlines flights. Plus, the first checked bag is always free for you and up to 4 fellow travelers.

Most credit cards come with booklet-sized cardmember agreements, but travel rewards programs are particularly complicated. Before you complete your card application, take time to read the fine print. Pay particular attention to restrictions on how your card accumulates travel rewards, as well as when, where, and how you’re allowed to redeem them.

As a general rule, cards that offset travel purchases with statement credits are somewhat less complicated than cards that require you to redeem points or miles directly with merchants like hotels or airlines. However, the only way to find out for sure is to buckle down and pore over their terms and conditions statements.

What’s your preferred travel rewards credit card?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Ratehacker: December's Best Credit Card, Bank And Home Loan Deals

In our monthly Ratehacker round-up, Jeremy Cabral from finance comparison site finder.com.au highlights recent credit card offer changes, plus the best savings accounts, transaction accounts, personal loans and home loans.

Christmas has arrived. December heralds a wealth of new deals for the frugal shopper. We're going to have a look at a number of credit card deals, savings accounts and home loans to see where the real value is this holiday season.

Feature: 0 per cent Purchase Rate & Balance Transfer

Citibank Clear Platinum: 0 per cent per annum for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers. Citibank are now catering to those who want to spend and save with a 0 per cent balance transfer and purchase rate offer. This is a great proposition for people who are prepared to pay back the balance by the end of the promotional period, as the Citibank promotional balance transfer rate reverts to the cash rate. Typically if you spend on a balance transfer card, you will get charged interest from the first day of the transaction. However, this card is unique as it's combined with a 0 per cent purchase offer, giving you six months before you're charged the annual percentage rate on purchases.

Commonwealth Bank Low Rate: 0 per cent per annum on purchases for 12 months. The Commonwealth Bank are offering extended interest free terms on purchases with their Low Rate MasterCard. This card allows you to spend and not pay any interest for a full twelve months. This is perfect if you're planning on paying back your Christmas purchases over a couple of months. The Commonwealth Bank are ahead of the competition this Christmas, the next best purchase rate offer is offered by Citibank with a 0 per cent for 6 months offer, which reverts to 12.99 per cent per annum.

Citibank ReadyCredit: 5.9 per cent on purchases for 24 months on balance transfers. This is technically not a credit card, but it's worth mentioning as it's a unique credit product. This is the only 24 month balance transfer promotion in the market. But it's not just for people who have a debt to pay off. The great thing about this product is that you can write a 'Cheque-to-Self'. This means you can access up to 80 per cent of your approved credit limit under the balance transfer promotional rate of interest. If you're looking to pay for a holiday, a wedding or renovations to your home, this is could be the product for you.

Loans.com.au Blackboard Special - 80 per cent to 90 per cent LVR: 4.66 per cent comparison rate. Loans.com.au currently have one of the lowest variable rate mortgages in the market at just 4.49 per cent per annum. This is a fully featured loan with a of up to LVR of 90 per cent . You can make principal and interest repayments or just interest only, and this loan is available to owner occupiers and people looking to refinance.

UBank UHomeLoan 3 Year Fixed Rate: 4.83 per cent comparison rate. UBank are a serious contender in the fixed home loan space. It offers an upfront discount of 0.25 per cent per annum off the standard variable rate for new customers. The UBank UHomeLoan three year fixed rate mortgage is almost a full percentage point below comparable loans offered by the big four banks.

Bankwest Double Deal Home Loan: 5.30 per cent comparison rate. Bankwest are offering a double deal with a discounted variable rate in the first two years of the loan and a reduced application fee. There's over $600 to be saved in processing fees, and you could save over $300 a month on a $500,000 mortgage over thirty years.

ME Bank Online Savings Account: 4.60 per cent per annum for 5 months. Available to new customers only for balances up to $250,000. There is no monthly account keeping fee or minimum balance requirement.

RAMS Saver Account: 4.21 per cent per annum. If you make no withdrawals and deposit at least $200 during the month you will benefit from a bonus 1.3 per cent per annum bringing the max variable rate on your savings to 4.21 per cent per annum.

ANZ Progress Saver: 4.01 per cent per annum. With the ANZ Progress Saver you are rewarded for making regular savings contributions to your account. If you deposit $10 or more in a single deposit each month and make no withdrawals or debits you will receive a 4.00 per cent per annum bonus rate of interest above the standard 0.01 per cent per annum.

Citibank Plus Transaction Account: Fee free bank account, no foreign transaction fees. If you are looking to travel using your savings rather than credit this is a great account to consider with no foreign transaction fees. It also features free international money transfers and instant money transfers when sending funds overseas to another Citibank account using Citibank Global Transfers.

Bankwest Rewards Transaction Account: 5 points for every eligible purchase at Australian based retailers. Earn 5 points every time you use your Debit MasterCard and 1 point per $100 on your account balance every day. Rewards redemption options include Woolworths or Caltex Vouchers, flights, food, wine, iTunes Vouchers, toys and electronics.

ME Bank EveryDay Transaction Account: Bonus 1.7 per cent per annum for 5 months on ME Bank Online Savings Account. You will receive the variable interest rate plus a fixed bonus interest rate of 1.60 per cent if you open an ME Bank Online Savings Account and link the account to an ME Bank Everyday Transaction Account. Bonus interest is payable on balances up to $250,000.

Gateway CU Car Loan: from 7.83 per cent per annum comparison rate. Borrow between $3000 and $75,000 for a new car for up to 7 years. You are also able to make additional repayments and redraw on these funds when you need to.

bankmecu Home Improvements Personal Loan: from 9.67 per cent per annum comparison rate. This is a suitable product if you're looking to renovate but don't want to get funds through your home loan or another source. If you're looking to do sustainable renovations to your property you can benefit from a 0.50 per cent per annum discount off the interest rate.

Aussie Personal Loan (Unsecured): from 13.94 per cent per annum comparison rate. With an interest rate almost 1 per cent per annum cheaper than the big 4, this is a great personal loan product plus fixed repayments make budgeting easy. Loan term is 1 to 7 years.


7 Ways to Finance Your Furniture Buying Spree (Pros & Cons)

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Buying furniture is like buying a car. As soon as you take it from the store, it’s lost value. BUT, that’s not the right way to think about furniture purchases. In fact, that’s pretty grim.

The fact is, having nice and comfortable furniture can improve your enjoyment of your home and your lifestyle.

Also, you often get what you pay for. In our twenties, just out of school, my wife and I bought plenty of low-cost, assemble-yourself furniture. It looked decent, but much of it didn’t last nearly as long as quality furniture.

Our problem was that we wanted to wait until we moved into what will be our main family home before spending serious money on furniture. But, once we get our new home (we’re in the planning stages of building one), buying decent furniture will be part of the process.

We’re not 100 per cent sure how we’ll be financing our furniture, but we’ve done the research so that we know our options. I don’t think we’ll go too crazy, but we will make some big purchases, some of which we’ll no doubt finance. This article sets out our research findings for financing furniture.

Our date in a furniture store

When my wife and I just started dating, we ended up at a furniture store. We sat down on a super comfortable sofa and forgot about being in a furniture store while we chatted for 1.5 hours. The sales people kept coming by asking “is there anything we can help you with?” We finally got the hint and left… but we both laugh about one of our first dates lounging in a furniture store.

I digress… back to the main subject.

There is no one size fits all model. That is why there are several options for financing furniture. It’s important that you have at least a general understanding of each option so that you can make an informed decision on which is best for you.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not to be construed as financial advice. The publisher of Home Stratosphere is not a financial adviser. Instead, this article simply sets out information based on personal research about using borrowed money to pay for furniture. Please always do your due diligence whenever borrowing money for any purchase.

This extensive article explains the main options you have to finance your furniture purchases.

Alright, let’s get started…

In recent decades, layaway has become a popular option among consumers, especially during the holiday season. Most furniture stores offer a layaway program that allows the consumer to “reserve” their furniture for later pick up while they make regular payments. To some, this can be extremely appealing, but there are certain risks that can greatly out weight the possible benefits.

Much like the state lottery, a store’s layaway program prays on the most financially insecure. Layaway programs are highly beneficial for stores, but can often be a losing proposition for the consumer.

First, let’s examine exactly what a layaway program entails and how it could be seen as an attractive method for acquiring the furniture you need.

With layaway you make payments over time, but your purchases stay in the store until you finish paying for them. Though every store differs on their rules, most programs follow the same basic path.

  • The consumer chooses the items that they’d like to purchase.
  • The consumer is prompted to make an initial deposit. Some stores allow the consumer to choose the amount that they’d prefer, while others have specific requirements.
  • Over time, the consumer makes small payments, usually in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly amounts.
  • Once the total purchase price (plus additional layaway fees) is paid off, the consumer is free to take their furniture home. They now own that piece exclusively.

One of the most notable benefits of any layaway program is that there is no interest. While other payment methods such a buying with credit or borrowing from a lender may require a sizable sum added on to the total amount in the form of interest.

Let’s say that you were to purchase a $900 leather chair to a credit card for 18% interest in December. If you were to pay off the total sum for the purchase by February, you’ll have paid an additional one month’s interest ($162).

Also, unlike purchasing furniture on credit, stores do not conduct credit checks in order to approve consumers for the layaway program.

Obviously, this is fairly straight forward and may seem like an enticing offer, especially if you don’t require the furniture until a later date. However, there are a lot of hidden fees and a myriad of different risks involved.

Though there is no interest collected for the layaway program, the store tacks on additional fees in the form of a down payment.

These fees will vary depending on the particular store that you choose to do business with, but some stores have been known to charge as much as 10%. For high ticket items, this can add up to a hefty amount.

Additionally, consumers need to adhere to a strict term of payment. Again, this will depend on the store that you choose to purchase from, but most stores will require the consumers to pay by a specific date.

The terms of payment may not necessarily require the consumer to pay on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly time span. However, they may instead require the consumer to have the full cost of the furniture paid off by a specific date.

As mentioned before, the layaway program often sounds like the most suitable option, but can quickly turn out to be a disastrous decision.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls our way occasionally. This can come in the form of added expenses force you to either miss payments or to completely back out of the layaway program all together.

It’s possible that the payments that you’ve already made on the purchase could be lost. In that case, you may as well have emptied out your checking account and handed the store your hard earned cash. It’s simply not a risk worth taking in most cases.

Some stores may reimburse you by offering store credit. In this instance, the money you paid is not necessarily lost, but can only be used at that particular retailer, which isn’t ideal either.

Before you turn to credit cards or look at various loan options, the indomitable first choice for financing your furniture need should be old fashioned cash, dough, moola.

Whatever you want to call it, cold hard cash will always be the most prescribed method for making a purchase. Why?

1. Pay no interest: Unlike every other method of finance, once the purchase is made, there are no additional fees or interest rates, which means that paying in cash is undoubtedly the most affordable option. A piece of furniture is a depreciating asset, meaning that it loses value over time, so by paying interest on something that is only dropping in value, means that you are losing money in two directions, which is never a good thing.

2. Avoid debt: When paying in cash, there is no possibility of acquiring debt. Unless properly mitigated, debt can bog down future finances for many years to come. Relinquishing debt should be a priority for any adult.

3. No risk of furniture repossession: The most satisfying benefit of buying with cash is that you will own the furniture outright which give you more options. If you took a loan out to purchase furniture, and you failed to complete the required payments, the lender could then come and take your furniture. When you own the furniture outright, there is no looming debt hanging over your head and you can sell the property if you so choose.

Again, I want to re-iterate that every payment option that I’ve presented today has its positives and its negatives. There is no one size fits all option as every person’s unique situation will dictate what works for them.

As much as I’ve built up the need to pay using cash, there is a downside; in order to pay for your furniture in cash, you need to have enough saved up in your account.

According to a 2012 report published by the document management services company, Pitney Bowes, the average savings account balance in the U.S. was $5,923 in 2011 [1]. Of course that doesn’t take into account for wealth inequality, but if you happen to fall into the category of people that has ample amounts of money stashed away, then this might be the perfect time to dip into your savings.

Prospective furniture buyers often find themselves in a unique position where they are emotionally prepared to invest in their new furniture, but aren’t quite financially prepared.

Whether the issue is a bit too much debt, a lack of funds for a down payment, or their credit profile is not quite up to par, furniture buyers might be inclined to wait until they work these issues out prior to investing in new furniture.

There may come a time, though, where “the waiting game” simply isn’t a solution. What if your current furniture is damaged and needs to be replaced immediately? What if your credit is less than admirable, but you still have the ability to pay monthly sums? What if your credit is solid, but the cost for the furniture exceeds the amount you can purchase with your credit card?

For those that live pay check to pay check, especially, this can put you in quite a predicament. With furniture prices often reaching the thousands, it could be detrimental to your own finances to make such a purchase. Should this automatically disqualify you from taking home the furniture that you’ve had your eye on for so long?

After all, everyone deserves the ability to furnish their home in some way. Luckily, there is another option. In such cases, a rent to own agreement may be the optimal solution for some.

According to Consumerreports.org, the rent to own industry has accumulated over 4 million customers as of 2011, and the 8,600 that participate, gain approximately $7 billion in total sales [2]. Needless to say, this has become one of the most popular options for financing furniture within the US and Canada.

Though they vary in exact terms, a rent to own agreement is a signed plan where the retailer allows you to take the furniture from the merchant location directly to your home without having to pay the full upfront cost. Within the agreement, the consumer acknowledges that they will be required to make regular payments (either weekly or monthly).

If regular payments are interrupted, the retailer obtains the right to repossess the furniture at any time during the term agreement. Additionally, the consumers can cancel the agreement, without penalty, at any time by returning the furniture.

The monthly payments are typically low and often times there isn’t even a credit check involved.

All rent to own agreements should provide the monthly amount that is required to pay, the total amount required to pay, and the total length of the agreement. Once the end of the agreement term is reached, the furniture will be yours to own and do with what you please.

The obvious benefit is that there is no massive upfront payment, which is ideal for those that are in dire need of new furniture, but lack the funds to finance it right away.

Disadvantages to Rent-to-Own Furniture Purchases:

It’s important to remember that although this may sound like a sensible option for some, it equally benefits the retailer as well, often to your detriment.

While the payments are generally low, allowing an incredibly affordable option for those that lack the funds to outright buy an expensive piece of furniture, the term lengths can go on for quite some time (several years in many cases).

Eventually these small payments add up to a significant amount of money.

One of the most popular rent to own retailers in the world is Rent-A-Center. On the surface, their terms seem reasonable, but if you were to add up the payment terms, you’d likely find that you will end up paying 200-300% of the actual worth of that furniture.

For instance, let’s use a hypothetical example of a $1,000 couch. Like any good consumer, you’ve done your research and know that every competing furniture store is selling this particular couch for $1,000 on the dot.

Unfortunately, you don’t have $1,000 to pay upfront, but you absolutely must have this couch, so you visit a local retailer that offers a rent to own agreement. By their terms, you only need to agree to pay $65 a month and you can take that highly sought after couch home with you that day…but there’s a catch.

Sure, $65 a month may seem incredibly reasonable, but the total length of the term is for 3 years. That means, before that couch becomes your property, you will be required to make 36 payments. If we multiply $65 X 36 payments, you are actually paying $2,340 for a couch that is priced at $1,000.

If at any time during the term you discontinue payments, then you forfeit the right to keep the couch. Let’s say that you are 30 months into your rent to own contract and have already paid $1,950 for that $1,000 couch, but some abrupt, unforeseen circumstance occurs and you simply can’t afford the additional payments. The retailer retains the right to take that furniture back and you essentially lose the close to 2 grand that you’ve already paid. Bummer…

Here’s another very real scenario. Let’s say that something does come up and you can no longer make the monthly payments, so you are required to return the furniture. When the retailer receives the furniture, they notice that there is some additional wear and tear.

Not to mention that many rent to own businesses have taken a lot of heat in recent years for unethical business practices [3].

At this time, you will be forced to pay for repairs to a piece of furniture that you no longer have in your possession, which can easily destroy your credit score. Yes, rent to own is a slippery slope for anyone, but is often the ONLY recourse of action for those that simply can’t afford to pay in full or lack the credit to finance furniture up front.

Personal credit cards can be a convenient way to pay for your home furnishings purchases. There’s no additional paperwork to fill out, and since you already pay your bill, it won’t add any new bills.

As technological advancements continued to increase, more and more people were turning to plastic as their preferred method of payment. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the 2008 financial crisis struck and purchasing goods on credit became somewhat of a taboo.

Few people understand how closely related the housing market and the furniture / appliance industry really are. When the housing bubble burst, it caused quite a few issues with furniture retailers.

Since then, the economy has rebounded quite nicely and many people have returned to buying goods via credit. Although there are still those out there that are weary of making a significant purchase with their credit card, the overall amount of people using them has returned to what they were pre 2008.

Of course this brings us to our big question:

Should you use credit cards to finance the purchase of your furniture, and is it safe in the long run?

Like every other payment method that we’ll discuss in this post, the specific needs of the person and their financial situation will likely play the biggest role in how you decide to purchase your furniture.

There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to finance an expensive investment, there is only what’s “right” or “wrong” for your particular situation.

To decide whether or not the use of a credit card fits your needs, we must first discuss what the use of a credit card actually entails and how it will affect you in the long term.

For those that are unaware, when you purchase something on credit, there is no immediate cost to you. That means that, even if you don’t have the cash in your account at that exact moment in time, your financial institution will make the purchase for you in the agreement that you will pay them back with interest.

Now, I hope you took notice of that last part “with interest” because the longer you put off the payment; the more you will end up owing in the long run.

Unlike with rent to own contracts, the credit card company will pay the full amount due to the retailer and you own that furniture from day one.

The downside to all of this is that you will be in debt to your financial institution, which can hinder your credit for later purchases (which rent to own agreements won’t). Your credit rating is like your financial footprint and when you default on your credit card; your livelihood will typically mirror your circumstances.

Though it is unlikely that the bank will come and seize your assets, it’s essential to pay off any debt that you may have to avoid being deemed a credit risk.

In extreme circumstances, the debt that you owe will be sold off to a third party collection agency. Once a collection agency gets involved, it’s almost guaranteed that they will use any tactic necessary to obtain the remaining funds, even if it means being aggressive to the point of harassment…which can be a hassle to deal with

The point in telling you this isn’t to scare you off from using credit cards. Quite the contrary actually. Credit cards can be an exceptional way to purchase goods that you may otherwise not be able to obtain at that give time…as long as you can pay the debt off in the long run.

For those that have a consistent source of income, there are still risks involved because you never know when unforeseen complications may arise that prevent you from being able to pay what you owe.

As long as you understand the risk and have the ability to pay off your debt, using a credit card can be a valuable solution to acquiring the furniture that you desire.

Bad credit. No credit. Who needs credit when you can get cash online almost instantly?

One particular method of obtaining money on short notice, that has become increasingly popular in the last few years, is known as a payday loan.

A quick Google search will yield hundreds of lenders that will be willing to provide you with funds within minutes of your online application.

Payday loans operate as a short term cash solution for people that require immediate access to additional money without the long drawn out process of paper work and the hassle of credit checks.

The lack of a credit check is also why payday loans have been dubbed the “bad credit loan” because it’s become one of the most frequently used sources of cash for those with less than optimal credit.

Most payday loan providers have a few basic requirements before they allow you to access your funds (none of which have anything to do with your credit).

You must have a source of re-occurring income.

You must make at least $1,000 per month

Each lender will have their own basic requirements, but as long as you have these two covered, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll receive a loan.

You might be wondering, “If they’re willing to lend money to people with bad credit, then how do they ensure that they actually get paid back?” Good question.

Payday loans typically need to be paid back within a few weeks time and the interest rates are incredibly high.

A $500 cash advance on an average credit card that is repaid in approximately a month may cost you $14 in finance charges and an annual interest rate of about 5.7%. A payday loan, on the other hand, would cost you $17.50 per $100 for borrowing the same $500 (so $87.50), and would cost $105 if renewed once, or 400% annual interest.

As you can see, it’s a far more costly means of obtaining money than most other methods.

Before jumping into any financial situation, it’s important to fully assess the possibilities. Can you afford to pay back your loan with interest? If there is some possibility that you could miss the deadline for your payday loan, then the amount owed will only increase overtime.

So, for the sake of purchasing furniture, a payday loan should be your last option as it is by far the most expensive and the riskiest. Unless all possible options are exhausted, and you absolutely positively must buy new furniture, then it may be best to avoid payday loans like the plague.

No cash on hand to buy that dining set that you’ve fallen in love with? Not a problem…at least for the retailer.

Now most major furniture merchants pitch their own type of financing programs to their consumers; especially to those that don’t pay with cash. In order to make this happen, most retailers will pair up with a lender for an interest free plan where borrowers pay 0% interest for the first tear if they make each monthly payment on the agreed upon time.

Retailers pitch this idea to draw in people that are interested in purchasing new furniture, but don’t currently have the money to do so.

Obviously, people hear “0% interest for the first year” and will immediately jump at the chance. After all, with no interest, they’d completely cut out the middle man (other lenders) and work directly with the retailer, and with 0% interest, they’d save a ton of money in the process, right?

Well like every other loan or finance option available, there is a catch…

If you miss a payment, the interest rate could skyrocket to 20% or more virtually overnight, costing you an arm and a leg. These types of plans that feature a deferred interest for up to a year can seriously wreak havoc on a consumer’s credit score.

To make matters even worse, the interest rate increase will be retroactive. Meaning, if you chose to finance a purchase through the retailer and were unable to make payments in the allotted time frame, they could then charge you back-interest in the previous months.

The practice of retroactive interest rates have come under serious fire in recent years because most believe it to be an underhanded method for lenders to milk more money out of their borrowers. Believe it or not, it was actually a target of President Obama’s CAED Act, which was meant to help provide safeguards for borrowers [4]. Although they did a solid job of containing retroactive interest rates, they didn’t fully prevent them.

If you play by the rules, you’ll receive your 0% interest and save a serious chunk of change. However, if you happen to miss the payment date or misinterpret the day that you’re supposed to make your payment, then you could end up with a hefty interest rate hike.

It essentially becomes a gamble against time. The borrower is betting that they’ll be able to pay off the balance before the end date. Often times because consumers are bombarded with this offer of 0% interest from the moment they turn on the TV until they’re at the register within the furniture store, they are banking on paying no interest, and are far less likely to shop around.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using a retailer’s line of credit, and can be extremely advantageous, as long as you are absolutely certain that you can pay off the required amount in the designated time, or else it could become an absolute nightmare.

In the Definitive Guide to Home Improvement Loans that we recently published, I covered the topic of home equity loans in great detail. In order to avoid beating a dead horse, I will simply give you a brief synopsis on how you can leverage the cost of your home to obtain the funds that you need to purchase your furniture.

Home equity loans (also known as a second mortgage) allow you to borrow money using your home as collateral using the amount of equity in your home to determine the amount that you would be allowed to borrow.

Naturally, the bank will want to receive what it is owed and the only way to ensure that this occurs is to put your home up. Home equity loans typically operate on a fixed rate, which must be paid back in monthly installments over the course of 10-15 years.

For those that have a single discrete expense, a regular home equity loan may be the right move. You’ll receive the money that you need, you’ll be able to purchase your furniture, and you can begin paying off your loan in monthly installments that don’t increase over the course of the loan agreement.

Obviously, if you’re simply furniture shopping, then the size of the loan that you’d require would only come to a minuscule amount of the total worth of your home, so there is no need to fret over whether or not the bank will take your house if you default on payment.

In fact, there is a specific type of home equity loan available for this exact purpose, known as an appliance / furniture loan. Most lenders offer this form of finance and they’re relatively easy to obtain.

An appliance / furniture loan can help you purchase the items that make your home more livable, even if you have a less than stellar credit score. Most lenders will provide appliance / furniture loans of up to $5,000, and if you require more, then a traditional home equity loan is always available.

The true benefit with a home equity loan comes with the fixed, miniscule interest rate that comes attached. (for figures on interest rate and how lenders calculate your payments, please refer to The Definitive Guide for Home improvement Loans)

How Does a Home Equity Loan Stack Up Against a Credit Card?

You may think that it’s more advantageous to use your credit card for financing a large purchase like a dining table or a refrigerator, than to take out a loan, but you’d be wrong, especially if you’re only making the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards.

Large purchases on your credit card will only increase the minimum monthly payment, making it much more difficult to pay off the balance. When it comes to credit cards, the monthly payment is mostly interest and not much principal (the amount of money you originally borrowed), which is why it could take years to pay off a single balance. Plus, if you miss a payment, then the issuing financial institution may increase the interest rate even further, causing the monthly minimum to skyrocket.

With a simple appliance / furniture loan from your bank, more of your payment will go towards paying the principal, which will allow you to reduce your loan balance much sooner than if you made monthly payments on your credit card. Additionally, when you borrow money from a lender and make your installment payments on time, it will help you build further credit with future lenders and banks.

The next step in the journey to acquiring the furniture you want so dearly is yours and yours alone. It’s up to you to take the information that has been provided to you and decide your course of action as to how you are going to purchase the furniture that you want without digging yourself into a hole of debt and additional payments.

In order to do this, you will have to take a look at your current financial situation.

  • How much cash do you currently have available?
  • Can you afford additional debt? It’s imperative you carefully assess your current and future monthly budget.
  • What’s your credit score? Can you get a decent interest rate?
  • Do you have low-interest borrowing options such as home equity loan or unsecured line of credit?
  • Are you in dire need of the furniture now, but lack the funds?
  • Are you willing to chance your future finances on one of the riskier options such as using a credit card or payday loan?

All of these questions need to be taken into account before an informed decision can be reached. Then you must find which finance plan fits your specific criteria. No, it’s not easy, but if done correctly, you will have the furniture that you’ve had your eye on and most importantly, your financial future will be far more secure.

3. Washington State Office of the Attorney General. Rent-a-Center settles harassment and contract claims. March 01, 2010.


best credit card for home improvement purchases

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Sears offers four credit cards. The basic card, quite impressive in its offerings, lets you collect points every time you shop at Sears and K-Mart, including their online stores.

All four cards offer online account management and the opportunity to save, courtesy advance notification of sales events to be held. You can add additional users to these cards without incurring any additional expenses.

The Sears MasterCard can be used across millions of locations that accept MasterCard. Users are not held liable for unauthorized purchases. The Sears Home Improvement credit card is a good choice for large, home improvement purchases.

You can make monthly payments via this card. Sears Commercial One is a good card for businesses who are looking to save on their purchases and streamline their accounting.

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

The popular garments store offers two credit cards for its patrons. The Old Navy credit card lets you earn points when you make a purchase in-store or online at Gap stores.

Every dollar spent nets you five points, and every 500 points you earn can be redeemed for $5. You can easily redeem rewards and the latest offers with one click. Online account management lets you add other authorized users to the card.

The Old Navy Visa card offers all the benefits of the above card, and the additional benefit of one point on a dollar spent everywhere the Visa card is accepted. Visa cardholders enjoy special offers and privileges.

Both cards offer an exclusive “Navyist” status that can be yours upon the accumulation of 5,000 points in a calendar year.

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Home Depot offers Consumer Cards and Commercial cards.

Consumer Credit Card – Avail special financing of up to 6 months on purchases of $299 and above. During special promotions, you can enjoy financing for up to 24 months. Choose from offers on riding mowers, building materials, water treatment, and heating and air conditioners.

Project Loan – Cards that cater to your financing needs for larger projects such as kitchen and home remodeling and roof repairs. Available at 7.99% APR. Pay off the loans in 84 months or less, there is no penalty on early payments.

Commercial Revolving Charge – A card with no annual fee and flexible payment options so that you can power your business with the opportunities to make purchases. Online account tracking with itemized billing statements ensure easy tracking.

Commercial Account – You have up to one year for making returns. Earn fuel discounts when you patronize participating stations. The card offers a period of 60 days for making a payment on purchases.

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

The Walmart Credit Card comes with an introductory 0% APR. If you’re a regular buyer at Walmart, then this card with no annual fee will net you good savings. A 10% signup bonus, which is valid for purchases of up to $250, welcomes new card owners.

Save 3% on purchases made at Walmart.com and 2% on Walmart gas. You save 1% everywhere else the card is accepted. The card, embedded with a smart pin, offers a grace period of 23 days for repayments.

Purchases of up to $298.99 will not attract an interest if paid in full within six months. The Walmart Credit Card is not to be confused with the Walmart Money Card, which is a prepaid card.

Best credit card for home improvement purchases

Best Buy offers two credit cards. The Best Buy credit card offers 5% back in purchases. The card has attractive promotional financing offers for up to twenty-four months.

The Best Buy Visa Credit Card widens your options for earning rewards. You can benefit at any place Visa is accepted. It earns you 2% back in rewards on dining and grocery purchases. All other purchases net you 1% in rewards.

For both cards, 250 points are worth $5 at a Best Buy store. Elite Plus status, which can be yours when you spend $3,500 in a year, offers 25% more bonus points on every purchase.

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