I wish that they accepted credit cards
May 17, 2007 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I am going to hire a landscaper to do some major renovations to my backyard. Since I don’t have all the cash on hand right now, I was planning on paying with a 0% interest credit card (and I would easily be able to pay it off in less than a year). The problem is that the landscaper (who we like much more than the others) does not accept credit cards.

Does anyone have any ideas how I can manage this? I was thinking of calling one of my credit card companies and asking them to send me one of their checks that have a high interest rate and then transferring that amount to a no interest credit card. Does this make sense? Is there a better option?
posted by toddst to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does the CC offer 0% on balance transfers?
posted by Leon at 7:56 AM on May 17, 2007

Most credit card companies offer special promotions (4-5% APR) for cash advance checks if the balance is only outstanding for a short time. I would put in a call to one of comapanies and see what's available.

Be very careful, though, these companies are pretty shady with the fine print and can end up jacking up the rate to shylock levels after 3 or 6 months.
posted by psmealey at 8:04 AM on May 17, 2007

I'm just throwing out ideas here, but you could always ask him if you can arrange payments. or do an escrow thing.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:04 AM on May 17, 2007

If you have a paypal account, and you have a paypal account, you could paypal the money (with extra to cover the fees), have them deposit the money in their bank account and write you a check.

It would be even easier if the contractor had paypal.
posted by drezdn at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

what about a balance transfer or a cash withdrawl from the card?
posted by the_binary_blues at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2007

Call your bank and see if you can take out a small personal loan, or check out a neat microlending site called Prosper. It is peer to peer lending, and you can moderate your risk if you choose to lend money in the future.

OR, if you really really want to pay with a credit card, you can request that convenience check from the credit card provider/bank... It looks like (and I believe is cashed like) a regular check, except it is added to the balance of the credit card, not debited from a bank account. Unfortunately, the bank can charge hefty additional fees (3-5% of the amount, plus interest can accrue immediately), so be careful and make sure that it can also be 0% and without fees, but this is very rare. Be careful: Bankrate.com info here.So, even if you do put it on a convenience check, you can get dinged with 3-5% right off, for the "convenience", even if you do transfer it immediately... Be wary of those hidden and non-hidden fees.

Otherwise, and not to be snarky, but it way be best to find a way to do the work incrementally and for cash, and work out a plan with the landscaper as to what can be done and when over time. Cash beats credit pretty much every time, because I've found even the smartest person (myself included :-) ) can be outsmarted by these bastard CC companies... Best of luck, toddst.
posted by wonderwisdom at 8:10 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

if the card has 0% on purchases it probably has 0% on balance transfers, as some people said.

Use a check or get a cash advance from some other card, then transfer the balance. Cash advance interest accrues from the day you do the transactions, so you will get hit for a small finance charge until the balance transfer payment arrives. But it shouldn't be more than a few bucks if you do it promptly. Also, the card you're transferring to may charge a fee, but it shouldn't be very much.

The only easier way is to find someone you know who is planning on buying some big item and paying cash. try to convince them to let you put it on your card and give you the cash instead.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:30 AM on May 17, 2007

The landscaper probably does not accept credit cards because he would bear the cost of the merchant account and transaction fees. That calculation also comes into play with doing Paypal, too, since he probably needs cash to pay his workers and suppliers. He's not likely to be paying day-laborers from a Paypal account.

What you're suggesting -- doing a cash advance and then transferring the balance to a credit card with a zero-interest offer -- will be more expensive for you. But it seems fair enough that you should bear this expense, rather than the landscaper. His price quote for you doesn't factor in these sorts of expenses.

Likewise, a payment plan means that he still has to come up with cash to pay his workers. He may also have to buy supplies on credit if you don't come up with some up-front cash. Again, to me it seems fair that you should bear the cost of that credit.

Or what wonderwisdom said: Scale the project down into smaller increments that you can pay for with the cash you have.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:36 AM on May 17, 2007

I was thinking of calling one of my credit card companies and asking them to send me one of their checks that have a high interest rate and then transferring that amount to a no interest credit card

That would work, if the 0% is also for balance transfers. Make sure before you do anything.

Or, can you just wait until next year to renovate your yard and save up the money between now and then? Unless you have a real emergency like sinkholes or a falling retaining wall, I don't see why landscaping can't be put off a year.
posted by boomchicka at 8:37 AM on May 17, 2007

If you have the money for the labour component you might be able to buy the materials component on your card and give your landscaper your cash for the labour.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 AM on May 17, 2007

Response by poster: All of your tips are excellent, and many mention aspects that I did not even think of. I am going to go over all of these options with my gf tonight and will post what we decided to do tomorrow.

If anyone has any other tips/ideas, keep on posting.

Thanks again!
posted by toddst at 8:48 AM on May 17, 2007

Would your landscaper agree to being paid in Home Depot gift cards? Maybe you could buy those with your credit card, and then give him the gift cards as payment.
posted by chinston at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2007

Or you could purchase a prepaid credit card, like they sell at gas stations.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on May 17, 2007

buy him a mastercard or visa gift card? offer to pay for materials on the cc?
posted by thilmony at 10:22 AM on May 17, 2007

As others have said, be really careful with cash advances and balance transfers. Page 77 of the 3rd addendum of your contract states that the interest rate is 400% a year, can't be transferred, and hold your firstborn as an early payment penalty.

The idea of you buying gift cards with your zero-interest credit card seems like a good one. Since every business from big retail to mom & pop offers gift cards now, you could pay him with a set of cards that could be virtually the equivalent of cash to him.

I'm thinking that gas cards, grocery cards, maybe some favorite restaurant cards, & the aforementioned Home Depot (for supplies) would work out well. And it could be kind of fun working this out with your landscaper.
posted by altcountryman at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2007

Couldn't you attach your Paypal (if you have one) to your CC, fund your paypal for the amount from that CC, and then, using Paypal's debit card, just withdraw the money at any ATM?

I have to admit, I don't know what the paypal fee would be for that, but it might be cheaper than the CC's fee.
posted by niteHawk at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2007

+1 to Drezdn's idea.

Charge your CC to a friend's paypal account, have them withdraw the money, *poof* cash back from your CC. I've done this a few times with family members who needed to borrow money and I recall it working fairly well (the paypal CC fee is cheaper than my CC's cash withdrawal fee).
posted by toomuchpete at 11:56 AM on May 17, 2007

Going into debt for LANDSCAPING.
I suggest a summer of weeds and capital accumulation.
posted by hexatron at 2:49 PM on May 17, 2007

Could you not get a line of credit from your bank? You can write cheques or withdraw cash from lines of credit, and the rate of interest is much lower. You have a house in front of that backyard, I imagine, which can help secure the credit at an even lower rate.

I feel like I missing something, because no one's mentioned this very common procedure yet.
posted by Yogurt at 3:15 PM on May 17, 2007

Oh, I see, you were hoping to take advantage of a year-long 0% offer. Sorry, I don't know why I missed that.
posted by Yogurt at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2007

Response by poster: Again, thanks for the advice! We were going to go with the Paypal idea (and then we would have also gotten the mileage points on our credit card which would have been a bonus), but a friend stepped in and let us borrow the extra money with no interest (besides a few pints at the pub).
posted by toddst at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2007

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