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Best Credit Cards for Home Improvements in 2020

The Discover offers on this page are no longer available via CNBC. As a result, Discover offers described on this page may be out of date.

Americans pay a pretty penny to upgrade their homes every year.

In 2019 alone, homeowners spent an average of $7,560 per year on home improvement renovations, according to a HomeAdvisor report.

It’s inevitable — no matter how careful you are with your budget, unexpected costs will always arise with renovation projects large and small. But, if you use the right credit card, you can save on these expenses and even benefit from added perks like cash back, promotional financing and more.

Below, CNBC Select rounds up the best credit cards for home improvements so you can earn rewards while remodeling your home (and potentially raising the resale value) — no matter what kind of project you have planned.

Best credit cards for home renovations

Best home improvement store card

Lowe’s Advantage Card

Lowe's Advantage Card

Information about the Lowe’s Advantage Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    5% off eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Save 10% on a qualifying purchase, up to $100. Valid though 7/31/20

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Who’s this for? Though store cards can have their drawbacks, such as low credit limits and high interest rates, homeowners who find themselves visiting home improvement stores often may want to take advantage of the benefits offered the Lowe’s Advantage Credit Card.

The Lowe’s credit card offers an everyday 5% discount on eligible in-store and online purchases. It can’t be combined with other promotions and discounts, nor can it be used to pay for service charges like delivery and installation fees. Yet, this 5% can go a long way when you’re racking up a large bill on expensive items like light fixtures, tiling and cabinets.

If you have a larger project to finance, the Lowe’s Advantage Credit Card can also provide a decent 84-month fixed payment plan that acts similar to what you may get with a personal loan. If your project is not large enough for such a long financing period, you can opt for a more basic option of no interest on purchases of $299 or more when paid in full within six months.

Like every promotional financing period, in order to reap the full benefits of this card you must be diligent with your repayment plan. Make sure you pay the balance in full before the six-month offer ends to avoid interest charges. Continuing to carry a balance after six months will cause you to incur deferred interest, which is a charge for all the interest you accrued since the date you made your purchase.

Though this card has no annual fee, it has a high 26.99% variable APR, making it crucial that you pay your balance on time and in full each month.

Check out how the Lowe’s Advantage Card compares to the Home Depot Consumer Credit Card.

Best for buying tools and appliances

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi’s secure site

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Who’s this for? Whether you’re painting a room or installing an extra light fixture, buying all those new supplies can add up. A card that lets you earn cash back no matter where you go and how frequently you shop can help you offset those small but consistent costs.

The Citi® Double Cash Card has an easy-to-use rewards program that lets you earn on each dollar you spend. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on all purchases, 1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay your credit card bill. It doesn’t require quarterly activation, there are no special bonus categories and there’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Although the Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t come with a ton of additional perks, it encourages good financial behavior since you lose half of your cash back when you forget to pay off your balance. This is certain to benefit you in the long run.

Best for financing a big-ticket remodel

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase’s secure site

  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining (including takeout) and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Who’s this for? Credit cards with an introductory 0% APR offer buy you time to pay off large home improvement projects, such as remodeling a kitchen, gutting an old bathroom or finishing a basement.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you get one of the longest periods to finance these projects with no interest on new purchases over the course of 15 months. To really take advantage of these savings over a year, we recommend that you make sure you can pay off the full balance before the 15-month introductory period ends, when your interest will increase to 14.99% to 23.74% variable APR.

In addition to using this card when planning a big-ticket remodel, it’s also good for everyday use with its 1.5% cash back on most purchases. You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining, including takeout, and drugstores.

There’s no annual fee, and rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card. The card’s generous welcome bonus lets you earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months (that’s like earning 40% back) — which shouldn’t be difficult to do during a renovation.

Best for cash back on purchasing new decor

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Information about the Discover it® Cash Back has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    5% cash back at different places each quarter after you activate bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%). Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    At the end of your first year, Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earned

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

*See rates and fees, terms apply.

Who’s this for? Improving your home usually entails some redecorating to match your fresh new space. For this, credit cards with a rotating calendar of cash-back categories can give you the most bang for your buck.

How? Some cards with quarterly bonus categories reward you for shopping at popular home decor retailers. If you wait to shop for home goods until the correct bonus quarter, you can make your design inspo dreams come true while also earning 5% back.

The Discover it® Cash Back is a no-annual-fee card that offers 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases after you activate the bonus every quarter (then 1%). Bonus categories this year include wholesale clubs, as well as Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com. To qualify for the high 5% cash-back earnings, you can shop online at these retail sites or visit your nearest wholesale club to stock up on items to design and furnish your newly improved home.

After you reach the $1,500 limit, you’ll still earn 1% on all purchases, and if you maximize your spending in these categories, you could earn $75 cash back each quarter on top of the 1% cash back you earn in all the other categories.

With this card’s unique welcome bonus, Discover also automatically matches all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year, and there is no limit to how much Discover will match.

Best for banking other rewards while spending

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

On Chase’s secure site

  • Rewards

    5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Who’s this for? Though you may be focused on seeing your home renovation to its end, it’s nice to have a credit card where your spending racks up rewards in other areas that may allow you to catch a break.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a travel rewards credit card with a low $95 annual fee and a big welcome bonus. Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, which is worth $1,000 when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. All that spending on your new renovation can help you earn rewards to use to cover the cost of a quick getaway.

You also earn 2X points on travel and dining worldwide and 1X points on all other purchases.

Best credit cards for remodeling a home

Best for Credit card
Home improvement store card Lowe’s Advantage Credit Card
Buying tools and appliances Citi® Double Cash Card
Financing a big-ticket remodel Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Cash back on purchasing new decor Discover it® Cash Back
Banking other rewards while spending Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Our methodology

To determine which cards offer the best value for remodeling a home, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including: rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

Since the home improvements you plan on completing may have a higher or lower cost than the average $7,560 per year Americans spend on home improvement renovations, we selected cards that have a good overall value in several common categories.

Information about the Lowe’s Advantage Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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