The best credit cards for new homeowners of 2020

If you just bought a house, these credit cards can make settling in a little easier.
If you just bought a house, these credit cards can make settling in a little easier.

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A new house, condo, or apartment is cause for celebration. It might also cause some financial stress, depending on how much is left in your bank account after the settlement. And the bills don’t end there. If you’re a new homeowner, you might be looking for ways to help you save money on home-related expenses after you move in. Furniture, renovations, and emergency repairs can quickly add up. 

While experts advise that people shouldn’t apply for new lines of credit before closing a mortgage in order to qualify for the best rate, a new—and appropriately targeted—credit card could be an option for you once you’ve settled in. Consider how you’ll do most of your spending. If your new house needs a few touch-ups, for example, then a branded card from a dedicated home improvement retailer could be the right choice.  If you need more flexibility in your spending, banks offer credit cards with generous cash back deals or introductory 0% APR periods. 

If you’re going to do a lot of online shopping, you might want to get a card that rewards you for purchases from a specific website. Or maybe you’ll be eating out a bunch while the kitchen is remodeled, and you can rack up dining rewards. But if you plan to spend a lot of time cooking now that you finally have your new place, you might want to choose a card that gives you more cash back on groceries.

Opening a new mortgage might have just dinged your credit score, in which case you’ll want to look for cards for average or imperfect credit. But, no matter your score, your best bet is to look at cards with a 0% introductory APR period—you won’t have to pay interest on your purchases until the offer expires, which, in many cases, can be more than a year from the time you open the account. You will still need to pay back everything you put on the card, but that introductory time frame could give you the breathing room you’ll need to get your new life settled.  

The best credit cards for new homeowners

  • Best for rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Best for renovations: Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

  • Best for imperfect credit: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best for cash back: U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

  • Best for home chefs: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Best balance transfer offer: Citi Double Cash

  • Best for online shopping: Amazon Rewards Visa

  • Best all-around benefits: Citi Simplicity

  • Best for existing high-interest debt: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

  • Best travel benefits: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Things you need to know about credit cards

  • Long introductory period APR rates are only a short-term incentive. Potentially high APR rates snap into effect after the card’s intro period ends, which could cost you a lot in interest if you’ve left your balance unpaid. It’s really important to keep an eye on your finances and keep an eye on the calendar. 

  • APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder’s personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. One thing to remember is that if you pay your card off in full every month you will not be charged interest.

  • Banks have final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above, and you should note that your credit score can take a hit after you take out a mortgage. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual’s credit score when evaluating each applicant.

How we evaluated

I’ve been covering personal finance for the past decade as a business and real estate writer for the Associated Press, Bankrate, and the New York Times. Using my knowledge of the credit card landscape, I chose cards that new homeowners might find useful after they purchase a home, from generous cash-back offers to rewards for online shopping. 

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Best for rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited can help maximize your spending on everything you’ll need while you’re settling in. You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, from new window treatments to updated appliances. And if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the account, you’ll get a $200 bonus.

During the first year, the rewards rate bumps to 5% for up to $12,000 you spend on grocery hauls. (This doesn’t include Target and Walmart, but if you do the bulk of your shopping there, we have some ideas for you.)

Plus, Chase offers a 0% APR for 15 months, which gives you just over a year to pay off the balance before the interest rate rises.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer offer: N/A

  • Bonus perk: Cash back rewards never expire as long as your account is open

  • Drawback: Other cards can offer more points on certain categories 

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best for renovations: Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Home Depot Consumer Credit Card
Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

If you love home renovations and live by a Home Depot, this is the card for you. Chances are you’re going to be spending a lot of time at the big-box home improvement retailers, and if that store is Home Depot, signing up for this credit card can help you finance your big-ticket home improvement purchases.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: N/A

  • Bonus perk: Cardholders get access to special discounts

  • Drawback: Can only be used at Home Depot

Learn more about the Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Best for imperfect credit: Capital One® QuicksilverOne®

Capital One QuicksilverOne
Capital One QuicksilverOne

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® card is an all-around great card with a solid mix of perks, including unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and it’s open to applicants with average or less-than-stellar credit scores. You can receive your cash back as a check or apply your rewards as a statement credit. Note that there is an annual fee of $39. 

  • Annual fee: $39

  • Balance transfer fee: None

  • Bonus perk: Get access to a higher credit line, provided you make your first five monthly payments on time

  • Drawback: Interest level could be higher than other cards

Learn more about the Capital One QuicksilverOne

Best for cash back: U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature

When it comes to getting cash back, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card offers a great deal: 5% cash back on the first $2,000 you spend in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose; 2% on one everyday category (like U.S. supermarkets); and 1% on all other categories.

Plus, you’ll pocket $150 after you spend $500 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of opening the account. There’s also 0% APR for the first year if you transfer a balance within 60 days.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

  • Bonus perk: You can get your cash back one of three ways: statement credit, direct deposit into your U.S. Bank checking or savings account, or a rewards card

  • Drawback: $40 fee for late payment

Learn more about the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Best for home chefs: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

With 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, this is the perfect card if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the new kitchen you designed. (After you spend $6,000, the deal drops down to 1%.) It also lets you earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations for all the trips you’ll be taking to not just the grocery store but to the hardware store for home improvement errands. You can also earn $250 in a statement credit if you spend $1,000 in the first three months. And with 0% APR on purchases in the first year, this card has its perks.

  • Annual fee: $95

  • Balance transfer fee: N/A

  • Bonus perk: Card includes car rental insurance and roadside assistance

  • Drawback: 2.7% foreign transaction fee

Learn more about the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

Best balance transfer offer: Citi Double Cash 

Citi Double Cash Card
Citi Double Cash Card

When it comes to cash back, the Citi Double Cash card is a great option. It lets you earn 2% cash back (1% on purchases and an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases). The card also has a balance transfer offer of 0% for 18 months, but after that, the APR jumps.

There are also a number of provisions for the offer. Namely, that balance transfers do not earn cash back, and if you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month. There is also a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer offer: 0% for 18 months

  • Bonus perk: Includes a Citi Concierge expert for booking travel and restaurants

  • Drawback: Balance transfers don’t earn cash back

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash

Best for online shopping: Amazon Rewards Visa

Amazon Rewards Visa
Amazon Rewards Visa

If your idea of home spending involves online purchases, you might want to consider the Amazon Rewards Visa, which gives 3% cash back at Amazon.com; 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and 1% for everything else. Every time you check out at Amazon.com, you see your rewards. Plus, there’s no minimum rewards balance to redeem.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Bonus perk: You’ll receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval

  • Drawback: Closing your Amazon.com account may lower your cash back (to 3% back from 5% on Amazon.com purchases)

Learn more about the Amazon Rewards Visa

Best all-around benefits: Citi Simplicity

Citi Simplicity Card
Citi Simplicity Card

If you’re the type of person who can’t remember what perks your credit card company gives you, the Citi Simplicity card is pretty straightforward. There are no late fees, no annual fee, and 0% APR for the first year. Plus, if you want to transfer a big balance from that new grill or claw-foot tub you purchased using a different credit card, Citi Simplicity offers 0% APR for 21 months (but you have to complete the transfer within the first four months).

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer, whichever is greater

  • Bonus perk: Choose your own due date every month

  • Drawback: 3% foreign transaction fee

Learn more about the Citi Simplicity

Best for existing high-interest debt: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Got high-interest debt from home renovations? If you’ve never had the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card, you might want to check out the 0% intro APR offer available for your first 18 billing cycles. (After that, a variable rate applies.) The 0% APR offer only applies to balance transfers made within 60 days of when you open the account. 

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: The balance transfer fee is 3% for each transfer amount ($5 minimum)

  • Bonus perk: Detects and notifies you of any unusual card activity to help prevent fraud

  • Drawback: The introductory rate does not apply to cash advances

Learn more about the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Best travel benefits: Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express
Wells Fargo Propel American Express

Let’s face it—you’re going to need a vacation after all the work you’ve done on your home. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card gives you 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 during the first three months. Plus, there’s no blackout dates on air travel when redeemed through Go Far Rewards.

You’ll also earn three times the points when paying for eating out and ordering in (for those nights you’re too tired from gardening to go out), along with gas, hotels, flights, and car rentals (for the trip to Hawaii you deserve for all your hard work). And you can still earn points on other purchases, with 0% APR for the first year, including a balance transfer.

  • Annual fee: None

  • Balance transfer fee: Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater

  • Bonus perk: Points never expire when your account stays open

  • Drawback: Fee of up to $37 for a late payment

Learn more about this Wells Fargo card

Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The best credit cards for new homeowners of 2020: Reviewed

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