When our realtor walked my husband and me through the condo that would become our first home, we fell in love. From the cathedral ceiling to the amazing view from the balcony, the space was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Truth be told, it was a bit outdated.
The kitchen was worst of all. With two different patterns of wallpaper, blue speckled laminate countertops, beige appliances and brassy gold hardware, I couldn’t wait to have the kitchen redone. But, after pouring our savings into our down payment, we had little money leftover to spend on upgrading our kitchen.
Using Our Credit Card to Our Advantage
Rather than waiting until we could afford our kitchen upgrade on our own, I put our money to work for us by maximizing the cash-back rewards that our credit card offered. The first step was determining which of our credit cards offered the best rewards. The credit card I chose offers 5 percent cash back on categories that rotate quarterly, as well as 1 percent cash back on all additional purchases.
Then, I made it a point for my husband and me to use our cash-back reward card whenever possible. From paying for the new furniture for our home to paying for our groceries, we used our Discover Cash Back credit card. The goal was that any money we spent should go through our cash-back credit card.
We were even able to set up a couple of our household bills to be charged to our cash-back credit card, rather than being mailed a paper bill each month. Not only did this snag us some additional cash back, but it was easier to make sure all the bills were paid as well.
It is important to note that we paid our credit card bill in full each month. Since we never ran a balance, we never had to pay any interest or fees. We spent the same amount that we would have spent if we had paid cash.
More on Home Upgrades: 20 Home Renovations You Can Make for $1K or Less
Redeeming Rewards in the Form of Gift Cards
As months went by, I watched as our cash-back balance grew. When we had finally racked up a sizable sum, rather than redeem our cash-back rewards for actual cash or a credit to our account, I opted to cash-in the rewards in the form of gift cards. This may sound odd, but it actually enabled us to score additional savings.
I was able to get a $100 Lowes gift card for every $90 in cash-back rewards redeemed. So, $1,500 in Lowes gift cards later, we had two sleek, new stainless-steel appliances for our kitchen upgrade: a glass-top double oven and a microwave.
My husband and I purchased a stainless-steel dishwasher and refrigerator to complete the set, had the kitchen painted and had a backsplash added. My amazingly generous mother gifted us our quartz countertops for Christmas (which was pretty much the best Christmas gift ever).
With the help of credit card rewards, I now have a kitchen that I love and enjoy cooking in. Now the only thing left to decide is what to use my cash-back credit card rewards for next.
Read More: Top 10 Best Cash-Back Websites
More From Our Smart Money Squad
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- How I Used My Credit Card Rewards to Get a Kitchen Upgrade
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- Watch: Money Matters: Cash vs. Credit
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