Most credit card programs have gaps in their bonus rewards. You may have a great card for earning travel rewards that’s weak when it comes to spending on groceries. Or that card with awesome restaurant rewards may offer meek returns when you fill up at the pump.
When it comes to DIYers and weekend home renovators, almost everyone is out of luck. There just aren’t many good cards offering top rewards on spending at the local hardware store or one of the big-box stores offering home repair supplies. Most cards would offer 1x points or you could pay with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which will score you 1.5% back (or better when paired with an Ultimate Rewards card). There is a better option, though: Buy gift cards to your favorite hardware store from another type of store where you can earn top rewards.
We’re thinking specifically about grocery stores, gas stations and office supply stores. You can earn a return of up to 8.55% on your plumbing, lumber or gardening expenditures by going this route. It’s not difficult to earn a return of 5% or more on gift card purchases. Let’s look more in depth at the best credit cards for hardware store purchases.
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
Where you’ll earn top rewards on gift cards: Earn 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
Other rewards: Earn 2x points at US gas stations and 1x points on other purchases. Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 in your first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Keep in mind: According to TPG’s latest valuations, Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece. That means for every dollar spent at a grocer on gift cards, you’ll earn 3 points, worth 6 cents. Then if you hit 30 monthly transactions, those 3 points per dollar spent turn into 4.5 points per dollar spent worth 9 cents apiece, making this the most valuable card available for hardware store gift card purchases.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Where you’ll earn top rewards on gift cards: Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
Other rewards: Earn 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and at US gas stations and 1% back on other purchases.
Welcome bonus: Receive a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates & fees)
Keep in mind: As with the EveryDay Preferred card, there’s an annual cap on how much you can spend at US supermarkets and still earn the bonus rewards. If you use either of these cards for your grocery spending, keep that cap in mind when purchasing gift cards for use at other stores.
Citi Premier Card
Where you’ll earn top rewards on gift cards: Earn 3x points at gas stations.
Other rewards: Earn 3x points on travel, 2x points on restaurants and entertainment and 1x points on all other purchases.
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95
Keep in mind: Don’t try to purchase gift cards at gas stations associated with warehouse clubs, discount stores, department stores and convenience stores, as they won’t qualify for 3x points.
Ink Business Cash Credit Card
Where you’ll earn top rewards on gift cards: Earn 5% cash back at office supply stores on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year.
Other rewards: Earn 5% cash back on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services on up to $25,000 in combined spending including office supply stores, 2% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each calendar year and 1% cash back on everything else.
Welcome bonus: Earn $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
Annual fee: None
Keep in mind: To grab the full redemption value, you’ll also need to own one of Chase’s credit cards that earns Ultimate Rewards (you’ll then transfer your cash back to those accounts and convert them to points), including the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You need to show you either own a business or sell goods or services on the side in order to qualify for this credit card.
It’s fairly easy to earn a 2% or higher return on hardware store spending if you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or something like Citi® Double Cash Card (1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay). That’s the easiest route to go, and that may be completely worth it to you if you don’t have much around-the-house tinkering to do. But for people who spend thousands of dollars or more at the hardware store annually — and for small business contractors especially — going the gift card route could be a great way to save some cash, even if it gets you some odd stares at checkout.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Hund