The top 5 credit cards to maximize large purchases
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One of the first lessons I learned when I got into the points and miles hobby is to put everything possible on a travel rewards card. However, it’s also important to choose the best card to make sure that you get the biggest bang for your buck. This is especially true when it comes to making a large purchase. So, today I want to discuss the most significant factors to consider the next time you plan on swiping your credit card for a significant amount of money.
For starters, let’s agree that the definition of a “large” purchase can vary significantly from person to person. While you may not be able to charge a new car purchase to a credit card, spending $1,000 or more on a medical bill, new laptop computer or an essential household item may be much more common. No matter what the case, though, here’s what you should consider when deciding which credit card can help you maximize large purchases.
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Best cards for large purchases
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Best for earning flexible rewards.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – Best for introductory annual percentage rate.
- Citi® Double Cash Card – Best for earning cash back.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – Best for large business purchases.
- American Express® Gold Card – Best for purchase protection.
Comparison overview of the best cards for large purchases
|Card||Welcome offer value**||Rewards rate||Annual fee|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$1,110||Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases||$95|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$200||Earn 1.5% (or 1.5 points per dollar) on purchases
Earn 5% on grocery store purchases
|Citi Double Cash Card||N/A||Earn 2% across all purchases — 1% when you buy and another 1% when you pay your bill||$0|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express||$2,400||Earn 5x on flights and prepaid hotels booked at Amex Travel
1.5x points on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
Earn 1x on other purchases
|$595 ($695 if application is received on or after 1/13/2022) (see rates & fees)|
|American Express Gold Card||$1,200||Earn 4x at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x) and restaurants
Earn 3x on flights booked directly with airlines
Earn 1x on all other spending
|$250 (see rates & fees)|
** Bonus value is calculated by TPG based on our monthly valuations and is not provided by the issuer.
Card details for the best cards for large purchases
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Best for earning flexible rewards
Annual fee: $95.
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Why it’s great for large purchases: You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar across all purchases. Many large purchases, such as wedding expenses or home renovation costs, may not fit under a traditional bonus category, so a flat-rate card that earns across all categories can be a great option. Plus, this is an excellent card long-term for everyday spending once you’ve taken care of your large purchases. You can redeem miles at a fixed value as a statement credit for eligible travel purchases, or you can utilize Capital One’s airline and hotel transfer partners to maximize redemption value.
Related: Capital One Venture review
Official application link: Capital One Venture
Chase Freedom Unlimited – Best for 0% introductory APR
Annual fee: $0.
Welcome offer: Earn $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Why it’s great for large purchases: You’re getting a flat 1.5% back (or 1.5 points per dollar if you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card) on purchases. But what sets the Chase Freedom Unlimited apart from other flat-rate cards is that it offers a great 0% APR introductory period — you’ll have 15 months from account opening of 0% APR (14.99%-24.74% variable APR applies after) on new purchases. While we always recommend paying off your credit cards in full each month, an introductory APR period (when used responsibly) can help you finance a larger purchase over time.
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Official application link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Citi Double Cash Card – Best for earning cash back
Annual fee: $0.
Welcome offer: None.
Why it’s great for large purchases: If you’d rather earn cash back than travel rewards, it doesn’t get much better than the Citi Double Cash. You’ll earn 2% back on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill each month. It’s a flat-rate card like the two aforementioned options in this list, meaning you don’t have to worry about what bonus category your specific purchase falls into. You’ll get up to 2% back no matter the merchant. If you also have a card that’s part of the ThankYou program, you can convert your cash-back rewards into Citi ThankYou points.
Related: Citi Double Cash review
Official application link: Citi Double Cash
The Business Platinum Card from American Express – Best for large business purchases
Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees).
Welcome offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
Why it’s great for large purchases: The Amex Business Platinum is great for larger purchases for multiple reasons. First, a large purchase could help you hit the high spending requirement for the 120,000-point welcome bonus. That bonus is worth $2,400 according to TPG valuations, but the $15,000 can be a hard threshold to hit in just three months.
Additionally, the Amex Business Platinum has a 1.5x point category on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year, so you’ll essentially get a 3% return in the form of valuable Membership Rewards points. Finally, the card also offers extended warranty and purchase protection, which can provide peace of mind when you’re purchasing large-ticket items.
Related: Amex Business Platinum review
Official application link: Amex Business Platinum
American Express Gold Card – Best for purchase protection
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership.
Why it’s great for large purchases: While the Amex Gold doesn’t offer bonus rewards for large purchases, it does offer up to $10,000 in purchase protection per covered incident, including accidental damage and loss. American Express makes it easy to determine the level of protection available on your card. Just go to the American Express website, click on the type of protection you’re interested in and then click on your card.
Note that most of these policies limit the coverage provided for natural disasters, and you can’t use the benefit on purchases of permanent household fixtures (like carpet or tile). But if your upcoming large purchase is for an eligible physical item that could potentially be lost or damaged, the Amex Gold can potentially be a lifesaver. And even without a bonus category, you’re still getting 1x (a 2% return) on non-bonus spending.
Related: Amex Gold review
Official application link: Amex Gold Card
Tips to maximize large purchases
Of course, there are also other opportunities to use your credit cards to maximize large purchases.
Use large purchases to earn a welcome offer or sign-up bonus
Even if you have a card that doesn’t offer bonus points in the category you’re planning on making the large purchase in, it can still make sense to use a specific card if you’re trying to hit a high spending requirement.
The Amex Business Platinum from our list of best cards for large purchases is one example, as is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. With the latter, you can earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending a steep $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Using the card for a large purchase could help you hit that threshold and earn that stellar bonus, which would make using it worth it even if you aren’t racking in bonus points on the purchase itself.
Using large purchases to hit spending thresholds for extra benefits
Select credit cards offer valuable spending threshold bonuses that reward you for spending large amounts on your card during the year. Some examples include:
- Points earned on cobranded Southwest credit cards, all of which count toward the Companion Pass and can help you earn elite status.
- The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers four opportunities to earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles each time you spend $30,000 in purchases within a calendar year (up to 60,000 MQMs per year). Plus, you can earn a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver when you spend $25,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
- A free weekend night certificate after spending $15,000 in a calendar year, plus Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
Charging a large purchase to a credit card that offers a threshold bonus could get you most or all of the way to the spending requirement for the bonus.
Check Amex Offers, Chase Offers and shopping portals for merchant deals
Often overlooked when it comes to maximizing earning are Amex Offers and Chase Offers. These offers provide statement credits or extra points when you add an offer to your card and then make a qualifying purchase. You can view the currently available offers when you log in to your online account.
You’ll usually find more Amex Offers per card than Chase Offers, but it’s worth checking the offers on all your cards before making a large purchase. Offers are usually available from travel, shopping, dining and entertainment merchants and range from bonus points to statement credits.
And of course, you should always check online for potential shopping portal offers if you’re making a large purchase with an online retailer. Shopping portals allow you to double-dip rewards alongside credit card bonuses. For example, let’s say you are making a $5,000 appliance purchase at Home Depot. If you have a targeted 10% rebate Amex Offer on your Amex Business Platinum and use a shopping portal, you could earn the rebate, 1.5x on the purchase itself, plus 3 JetBlue points per dollar by using the JetBlue shopping portal (note that the JetBlue shopping portal payout is currently 3x but may change).
If you have a large purchase coming up, you should definitely think about which credit card makes the most sense. Some of the considerations above relate to earning and redemption potential, while others act as insurance policies if things go awry. As always, feel free to remove considerations that aren’t important to you or relevant to your purchase, and add additional weight to the ones that mean the most to you.
The right card for each purchase will depend on the item being purchased and your particular circumstances. For some purchases — especially electronics — the potential value obtained from extended warranty protection, purchase protection and price protection benefits may justify using a card that earns fewer points on the purchase. Or, it might make sense to use a particular card if you’re working toward a spending threshold or a minimum spending requirement on that card.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon, Katie Genter and Nick Ewen.
Featured photo by Maskot for Getty Images.
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Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
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