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How to make large purchases using a credit card

Rack up rewards or simply give yourself more time to pay a balance when you make a large purchase with a credit card.

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If you are considering buying furniture, appliances, or jewelry you have probably looked at the in-store financing options. While these are convenient, it is possible that you can get a better deal by using a major credit card to make your purchase.

Using credit cards for large purchases

If you’re planning to make a purchase that costs more than a month’s salary, a few of the advantages of using a credit card include the ability to bank a large number of reward points. But – you’ll want to stick to some rules of thumb, which we’ll outline in this guide.

What exactly is considered to be a large purchase?

A large credit card purchase isn’t how much the dollar amount adds up to, it is actually your debt to credit limit ratio. If your credit card limit is $5,000 and you’ve charged $4,000, you’ve used 80% of your available line. Swiping for anything over 50% of your credit limit is considered a big purchase, some people even argue that it is 20%.

Everyone uses credit cards differently

Each person has different use for a credit card — some swipe for emergencies only and others use it quite often. No matter how you use a credit card, having a plan to pay off the balance when it is due should be a common denominator for all cardholders.

Far too often, consumers just swipe their cards without thinking about how they will pay off the balance. So, when using a credit card to pay for an expensive item, consider the benefits and the potential risks of doing so.

Using my credit card responsibly

Your credit card should only be used in a way that is financially responsible. If you know that you will not be able to consistently pay off your bill each month then switching to a cash system or exploring low interest loans is probably better for you. Keep those cards for big expenses only and work diligently to pay off the balance as quickly as possible.

MUST READ: Save some cash with low interest rates

There are some cards out there that come with an introductory low interest rate. When the rate is low or nonexistent, you can use it to your advantage to buy something expensive and avoid excessive cost from interest fees.

Using my credit card to earn points

Your card may come with a great rewards program – for instance, 2 miles for every dollar spent such as with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Elite World Mastercard. Making a large purchase with a card with double miles will get you – well, double miles!

For credit cards that offer cash back, a $5,000 purchase with 1% cash back would be a $50 bonus.Back to top

You can also buy big items using an in-store loan

In-store loans have become more favorable for larger purchases because it offers the customer a line of credit directly with the store and can have either little or no interest.

Things to consider when using a credit card

There are a number of different reasons to use a specific card for a specific purpose. Some simply have better interest rates than others and will ultimately end up costing you less if you can pay your balance on time. Also, pay attention to cards with no annual fees. If you’re not a chronic credit card user, why would you want to pay to use one in the first place?

Speaking of spending, your credit limit is very important to take note of, as this is the varying factor that will determine the amount of money you’re able to use.

Wake up! Don’t sleep on cards that offer enticing perks like reward points and travel insurance, use them to your advantage. Definitely shop around and carefully eyeball the terms and conditions for any card you are considering, as there could be hidden fees in the contract.

How does the interest free period work?

Most credit cards come with interest free periods, which means when you make a purchase, it does not start accruing interest until your next statement period. You get the whole month to pay off the balance, but when the balance is due, it will accrue interest if you can’t pay in full. Just don’t make the mistake of forgetting to pay off your bill in full before the interest free period is up, no matter how tempted you might be to only make the minimum monthly payment.

Our pick for a potentially high-limit transfer card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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Credit limit

A credit card has a spending limit on it. Someone who has a solid credit history and has responsibly used credit cards for quite some time will likely have a high credit limit. If you’re someone who is a first-time credit card user or someone who has one but is hesitant to swipe, it is rare that you’ll have a high credit limit. The limit is based off of your creditworthiness and it takes time to build.

Extending my credit limit

Credit limits can be extended for larger purchases, but this is something that is at the discretion or the creditor. Multiple factors are taken into consideration when deciding if you can take on a higher credit limit such as your repayment history, your most current income, job status and how long you have been a valued card member

Compare high-limit credit cards

Providers rarely share credit limit ranges for their cards. Even when they do state a maximum, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it when you apply. If you’re hoping for a high credit limit, the cards in this table sometimes have higher-than-average limits according to users.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
20% at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months, 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
Petal® 2
Up to 10% cash back from select merchants, on other purchases earn 1% back, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments
12.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Build your credit with rewards and no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score of 600 or higher. See if you prequalify with no impact to your score.
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Protection for shoppers

Some credit cards allow you to extend the warranty of the items you buy. Extended warranties are offered by most of the major card issuers and are typically a complimentary service that will reimburse you if something organically backfires with your purchase — you obviously can’t ruin your purchase with abnormal wear and tear and ask for your money back!

Be sure sure to file your receipts and warranties for larger purchases to save yourself time in the event that you’d have to make claim. Not every purchase will be covered by the warranty set in place by the credit card company, so read the fine print and figure out if you’re better off paying a little extra for the store warranty.

Some credit cards also offer purchase protection when you use the card to buy your personal items. This means that you have additional coverage if there is any problem with the item within a set timeframe of the purchase.

Switching to another credit card with better features

Just because a card has treated you well in the past, you should still keep an eye out for a card that has promotions or perks that could be financially beneficial for you. Big purchases could lead to big rewards, cash back or frequent flyer miles. You could even find a card with lower fees or transfer your balance to a card with a better interest rate. Saving money? Sign me up!

As you can see there are several innovative ways that a credit card may be used to purchase your expensive items. If you’re creative enough, you can make a large purchase and never pay a cent in interest.

Large purchases and my credit score

Your credit score is based on a number of factors, one being your debt to limit ratio or how high your balance is in relation to your credit limit. If you plan to make a large purchase with your card, be careful as this will raise your debt to limit ratio and possibly have a negative effect on your score. All the more reason to pay off the balance in full by the due date.

Tips for using my credit card for large purchases

Promotional periods: Companies want your business, so they are willing to make all kinds of offers in order to secure you as their loyal customer. Most cards have interest free periods that allow you to buy an item and pay off the card before you attract additional interest.
Compare interest-free credit cards
Extended warranties, insurance and special discounts. The extended warranty gives you an extension on the manufacturers warranty, protecting your initial investment. There are other kinds of purchase insurance that protect your item from loss, theft or damage. These protections make it a no-brainer to use your card for a valuable purchase.

Find low interest offers. Some cards offer a zero percent introductory interest rate that lets you finance your purchases for free. If you are going this route, make sure you can pay off all or most of the purchase before the low rate expires so you can maximize savings.
Compare low interest credit cards
Look into a balance transfer. If didn’t have time to get a low rate card before you made your purchase you can still take advantage of low rates by doing a balance transfer. This is when you move the debt from one card to a new card for a lower interest rate.
Compare balance transfer credit cards

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