The four cards I'm recommending for a $30,000 home renovation project
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My sister just hit a major milestone that’s giving us both cause for celebration: She bought her first home. Being a single mom of three kids, that’s an incredible feat. And as excited as I was for her, I was even more proud that she came to me for points and miles advice. Since she’s renovating the house, it occurred to her that it might be a great opportunity to bank a credit card sign-up bonus or two.
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This is a big deal because my sister has no interest in points and miles. She likes the idea of booking almost free travel, but anytime I explain to her the different airline programs and how to get the best redemption rates, her eyes glaze over and she says, “Can I just pay for it?” I’ve tried to get her into this hobby for nine years and the best I managed was convincing her to get a Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees) so she could have enough points for the occasional airline ticket.
I started by asking her where she was doing the majority of her shopping for the renovation project. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a bonus category we could max out, so the focus shifted to maximizing non-bonus spending via credit card sign-up bonuses. Keeping in mind her need for simplicity and lack of desire to go beyond swiping her card for purchases, here are the four cards I recommended to my sister for her home renovation project.
Related: Best credit cards and strategies for maximizing home improvement spending
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is ideal for someone like my sister who has neither the time nor interest to research rewards programs and keep track of category bonuses. The card earns 2 Capital One miles per $1 spent and miles are worth 1 cent each toward travel expenses. If she does decide to venture beyond this option, she can transfer Capital One miles to several airline and hotel partners.
The card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
This card is really great for the get-it-and-forget-it crowd that wants to earn substantial rewards without putting in too much work. She’s got enough of that going on with her house being stripped down to the studs.
Related: Review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Apply link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred makes virtually all our "best of" lists without fail as it's a fantastic travel rewards card with an affordable $95 annual fee.
While the 2x on travel and 3x on dining doesn't necessarily help with the home renovation project, this card offers an all-time-high sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 or more within the first three months of account opening. According to TPG valuations, that's an unbelievable $2,000 of value when used for travel. Chase offers 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners, including popular options such as United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards and World of Hyatt.
Once my sister hits the spending threshold and locks in those 100,000 points, I'll recommend that she use other cards for her home improvement spending. But with this limited-time sign-up bonus, it's a no-brainer that she applies for the Sapphire Preferred right now.
Related: Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred should still be the first rewards card in your wallet
Apply link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Every time we go on a family vacation and I go over our hotel options, my sister immediately jumps to, “Can we stay at a Hyatt?” When I explain that we don’t have elite status and will have to forgo valuable benefits, she responds with, “Why don’t we have status? Can we get status with a credit card?” It’s literally the only time she’s expressed interest in getting a rewards credit card or using it to leverage elite status.
I bit the bullet recently and got a World of Hyatt Credit Card for that purpose, but I also recommended she get her own. The card comes with instant Discoverist status and the ability to earn additional elite night credits: five per year and two more for every $5,000 spent. If my sister were to put her entire $30,000 renovation cost on the Hyatt card this year, she’d end up with 12 elite qualifying nights. Factor in the annual five qualifying nights and she’s more than halfway to Explorist status.
But aside from the ability to spend her way to elite status, the card is a great value for her. At least once a year, she likes to take a staycation a few hours from home. The annual free night award, valid at a Category 1-4 Hyatt, is perfect for that. I can already anticipate how having this card in her wallet will get her more excited, not just about Hyatt, but points and miles in general.
Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night
Apply link: World of Hyatt Credit Card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The first thing that came to mind when my sister asked which card to put “a large chunk of spending on” was the Amex Blue Business Plus. This is where I charge all of my non-bonus spending, and I knew my sister didn’t have this card.
If you've shied away from business cards in the past, listen up: Your side hustle may actually help you qualify for a business card. Whether you're a freelancer, online seller, consultant or more — the options are seemingly endless — you, too, may qualify for a business credit card, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
She seemed on board with getting the Blue Business Plus for the 2x points on the first $50,000 spent in purchases each calendar year, then 1x.
Related: Five ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without knowing it
In the long term, this is a better card than the Capital One Venture — which has a $95 annual fee, while the Blue Business Plus does not (see rates and fees). However, she’s more concerned with getting the most bang for her buck on this renovation project, and the Venture seems to be coming out ahead. The jury’s still out, but since the Blue Business Plus has no annual fee (see rates and fees), she should just get them both.
Apply link: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
SELECT CHASE BUSINESS CARDS
If you happen to have an eligible Chase business credit card, targeted cardholders can earn 5% on shipping and home improvement store purchases on up to $10,000 in combined spend until Aug. 31, 2021. You'll need to activate this offer in your Chase account, but you could potentially earn $500 in cash-back or convert the cash earned to valuable Ultimate Rewards points -- a nice return on your home improvement project this summer.
Related: Your guide to the Chase Ink Business credit cards
While we have an entire guide on the best credit cards for home improvement projects, those options didn’t really suit my sister since most of her spending won’t qualify for category bonuses. The recommendations I made for her take into account her personal spending habits and knowledge of points and miles, as well as her long-term goals. These four cards really fit the bill nicely because she’ll come away with enough points and miles to offset her next family vacation and continue to earn valuable rewards beyond the bonuses.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Juan Ruiz.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus, click here.