Credit Cards

Do a big home repair? Here is 1 way to get free cash

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Home repairs can be a hassle, but if you play your cards right, you can minimize the financial hit.

Key points

  • Home repairs can show up when you least expect them.
  • Choosing the right credit card to pay for them could result in a pile of extra cash.

Last summer, my husband and I discovered that our air conditioning system had naturally stopped working on the hottest day of the year. We needed a quick fix, and after consulting with professionals, we determined that it made more financial sense to replace our system than to fix it.

Even though we had the money in our savings account to pay for a new air conditioner, we opted to charge one of our credit cards for the job and pay the bill right away so we didn’t accrue interest. Since the repair company we had called didn’t offer a cash discount, we figured we might as well put the expense on a credit card and get some cash in the process.

But if you’re facing a repair, there may be an even smarter move you can make. And it’s something you might want to consider the next time you’re looking at a giant bill.

What can a lot of cash do for you?

Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses for reaching a certain spending threshold soon after you open an account. You can, for example, find a deal where you’ll get $500 cash back for spending $3,000 within three months of opening a new card.

If you normally only spend $700 per month, that $3,000 spending requirement may not be easy to meet. But if you’re spending a large payment on a home repair, you may not have a problem hitting a card’s spending limit and earning a cash bonus as a result.

Now, the key to carrying out this strategy is being able to plan your repairs and time your credit card application strategically. In our case, we couldn’t get a registration voucher because we needed to replace the air conditioner as soon as possible. As such, we didn’t have the luxury of applying for a new card and waiting for approval.

But some home repairs are more easily anticipated than others. Let’s say you know your air conditioning system needs a $1,000 repair sometime between now and early summer. If you schedule that job for April, you can apply for a credit card with a sign-up bonus in March. You can then load that $1,000 repair to your card to increase your chances of meeting the spending requirement for that bonus.

Make the best of a bad situation

Home repairs can be a huge financial strain. And sometimes, their unexpected nature makes them even more difficult to deal with.

But if you have a specific repair on your radar, it might be worth applying for a credit card with a sign-up bonus and getting a lump sum of cash to help offset that expense. Getting a lot of money back could soften that blow and leave you with more protection for when the next big thing with your house goes wrong.

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