Home improvement isn’t cheap and sometimes it becomes a “must do” instead of a “want to.” Especially for emergencies that come with a high price tag, a Home Depot credit card might be just the ticket to cover the cost of supplies, but which one is right for your needs?
There's more than one, you ask? There are actually four Home Depot credit cards – two for individuals and two for companies. Unless you’re a contractor, you won’t need Home Depot’s commercial line of cards, so here’s a look at the company’s two consumer cards.
The Consumer Credit Card
First, there is the consumer credit card. Similar to other store cards you might have in your wallet, you would use this card just as you would a credit card to make everyday purchases at Home Depot.
For purchases of more than $299 Home Depot offers 0% interest for six months and other promotions throughout the year. You can often find 12-month interest-free financing on appliances of $299 or more, 24 months of special financing on heating and air conditioning, and seasonal offers – such as $25 off snow blowers in the fall.
But beware of the promotions. The 0% financing makes for a great headline, but it’s only free if you follow the rules. Like any other “deferred interest” promotion, 0% for six months means that you have to pay the balance in full before the six months run out. If you’re even one day late, Citi (the bank behind the Home Depot credit cards) will charge you the full interest amount for the past six months – as if the promotion never existed.
Banks offer promotions like these because they know that consumers will have every intention of paying the balance long before the promotional period ends, but many will not. If you don’t have a history of consistently paying your credit card balances in full at the end of the month, it’s best to steer clear of promotional offers like these.
Fine Print on the Consumer Card
Like other retail cards, the interest rate is horrifyingly high. If you have amazing credit, your rate will be as good as 17.99%, but it could be as much as 26.99% if you have just so-so credit. To be fair, rates are comparable to those of other store cards, but this is not the card to use if you will carry a balance.
Other than the special offers, don’t expect any perks like rewards points or cash back with this card. If you use a credit card responsibly, a card that offers cash back or rewards points might be a better option than a store card unless the promotional offers are appealing to you.
The card also comes with the normal grace period of 25 days if no promotional offer applies to you, as well as a $35 late fee.
The Project Loan Card
If you’re planning a large renovation or building project, Home Depot has a project loan credit card with credit lines of up to $55,000. This card comes with no annual fees, 84 months to pay the balance in full and a six-month buying window to purchase products. The interest rate is 7.99% and the card comes with no perks. Think of it as a loan more than a credit card.
Although the interest rate is much more attractive than the one on the consumer credit card, if you wait the full 84 months to pay the balance, your project becomes substantially more expensive. On a $40,000 loan, you would pay more than $12,000 extra – or 30% – on the project.
The Bottom Line
Unless the project is urgent – heating, A/C or a water heater replacement, for example – saving for it instead of purchasing on credit will make it substantially cheaper over time. However, if you have a history of paying off credit card balances before incurring any charges, the Home Depot card offers some attractive promotions that might be a good deal for you.