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Car maintenance is often expensive. The average cost of a new car's routine maintenance can be $900 for those who drive 10,000 miles in a year. If you drive more than that, your car maintenance expenses will increase with every mile you drive. Add here car repairs that are almost always unexpected and pricey, and you may end up spending quite a fortune to keep your car running.
Luckily, there are ways to make those expenses manageable and even save money on car repairs. You can use a credit card for car repairs and routine maintenance: it can be a credit card with a 0% intro APR offer or a credit card with rewards on purchases. Or, even better, it can be a card that combines both an intro APR and rewards earning.
Here we explore some of the best credit cards for car repairs from our partners. See what options you have and pick the right credit card for your wallet.
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for no annual fee
The Discover it® Cash Back card is a great choice when you need a $0 annual fee paired with a long into APR.
The Discover it® Cash Back has a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases. When the promotional rate is over, then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases applies. Your real interest rate will depend on your creditworthiness.
However, zero annual fee and zero promotional rate are not the only benefits of the Discover it® Cash Back card. You will also earn cash back on all purchases with this card - up to 5% cash back on everyday purchases.
The card's rewards structure is a bit tricky, but you'll get the hang of it pretty fast. The 1% cash back is earned on categories that change every quarter. You will need to activate those categories to be able to earn 5% cash back, up to the quarterly maximum. When you reach the spending limit in 1% categories, you will continue earning 1% cash back on those categories. All other, non-category purchases will always earn unlimited 1% cash back.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for redemption options
The Citi Premier® Card is a good choice for those who want to maximize on travel purchases, earn a bonus offer, and have various redemption options.
The Citi Premier® Card has a big welcome bonus - 60,000 ThankYou Points. To earn the bonus, you will need to spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. So, if you were planning some major car repairs, you can save on them by earning the bonus.
In addition to the welcome offer, you will earn 3X ThankYou Points on hotel, car rentals, and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024. You will also earn 3 points per dollar spent at gas stations, air travel, other hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets. All other purchases will earn 1 point per dollar spent.
Discover it® Miles: Best for flexibility
The Discover it® Miles is best for those who want to earn rewards towards future travel and not only. The card has no annual fee, intro APR, and miles rewards.
If you have some big expenses on the horizon, you can put them on the Discover it® Miles and pay them off at 0% Intro APR. The card has a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases. When the introductory rate is over, the go-to APR will be 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR.
Whatever purchase you put on the card (including car repair and car maintenance expenses), you will earn 1.5x miles without any limits or caps. Furthermore, new cardmembers will qualify for the Discover it® Miles's bonus offer - all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year will be matched. For example, if you earn 35,000 miles, you get 70,000 miles.
Earned miles can be redeemed for travel. But Discover also allows you to redeem miles as cash deposited to your account, and cash can be used for whatever you want, including car care.
Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®: Best for earning cash back on car repairs
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® can be a great choice when you need a credit card that will earn rewards on car repairs and maintenance. The card offers 3% cash back in home, auto, and health categories, and 1% cash back on everything else.
Auto category includes car washes, tire retreading and repair, towing services, automotive service shops (non-dealer), automotive paint shops, car and truck dealers (new and used) - sales, service, repairs, parts, and leasing, and other services. Merchants within this category include Tractor Supply Co, Discount Tire, Firestone, Tires.com, Mavis Tire, and some other.
While the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® offers good rewards on car repair and charges no annual fee, it does not have any into APR offers.
Co-branded credit cards for auto repair financing
Being loyal to one brand can be rewarding. Car manufactures can offer credit cards geared to their brand and services. You might want to have a co-branded credit card, like the Jeep Rewards Mastercard or DrivePlus Mastercard. Plus, there are branded cards, like the Synchrony Car Care card with deals from multiple car care brands and deferred interest.
My GM Rewards® Mastercard®(expired offer): Best co-branded credit card for die-hard General Motors fans
The My GM Rewards® Mastercard® offers high rewards rate, intro APR period, no annual fee, annual statement credit, and some other benefits. The card earns 7x points for every dollar spent with GM and 4x points for every $1 spent elsewhere. If you spend $1,000 in the first three months from account opening, you can earn 15,000 bonus points. That equals $150 in value when redeemed with GM.
Earned points can be redeemed toward a new GM vehicle purchase or lease, or towards your GM Financial lease or loan payments. If you need to repair your GM vehicle, you can use points towards GM certified service or towards GM genuine and AC Delco Parts and eligible accessories.
When you are a GM owner, the My GM Rewards® Mastercard® can help you save a lot on your GM vehicle maintenance and repair. It earns incredible rewards on all purchases and charges no annual fee - there's no reason why you shouldn't have it.
How to choose the best credit cards for car repairs
Depending on what is important to you, there are several factors to consider when choosing a credit card for car repairs and maintenance:
- Intro APR offer: With a low to no introductory APR, you can save on interest payments for a certain amount of time. This can be useful for upcoming large expenses like car repairs.
- Welcome bonus offer: A sign-up bonus often provides new cardmembers a large amount of rewards, if you meet spending requirements within a certain time frame.
- Ongoing rewards: Those can be cash back, point, or miles rewards, depending on the card you choose. Rewards may be specific to car maintenance purchases, or the card can offer a good rewards rate on all purchases. So, it's up to you what type of rewards you prefer.
- Annual fee: There are many credit card offers with no annual fee. However, sometimes, depending on what benefits are offered, paying an annual fee may be worth it.
- Recommended credit score: The majority of 0% intro APR credit cards, or cards with rewards are aimed at people with good credit rating. Thus, having a good credit score, starting at 670 and higher (FICO scoring model), may help you increase your chances to qualify for various credit card offers.
Other options for auto repair financing
When a credit card is not an option for you, a personal loan can help you get the money you need for your car repair.
A personal loan is a good option when you need cash for emergency car repairs. Depending on the lender, when approved for a loan, funds can be deposited into your bank account as soon as the next business day. Personal loans are usually installment loans, meaning you can pay back the money you borrow over time by making regular monthly payments.
Payday loans, or cash advance loans, are short-term, high cost loans. Their amounts are not big - generally up to $500, that are typically due on your next payday. Depending on your state, payday loans may be available online or through storefront payday lenders. Payday loans are an option for inexpensive car repairs and for emergency situations as they are rather risky.
Car title loans are like payday loans - they are loans for a small amount of money and for a short time. To get the loan, you need to give the lender the title for your vehicle (your car or truck). There is a fee for the loan and it must be repaid in 30 days. This is an expensive and risky type of loans. If you cannot repay the money you owe, the lender can take your vehicle.