No single payment option is perfect for every person or situation, and the right choice for you will depend on factors like your credit history, how much you earn, and how much time you have before your move. To help kickstart your research, we’ve put together a few different financial scenarios so you can quickly find the one that best describes your situation.
It won’t surprise anyone with a credit card, a mortgage, or student loans that debt is best avoided whenever possible. And if you’ve got time to put away a hefty lump of cash before moving day, there’s no need to go into debt for your move.
In a recent survey we conducted about the finances of moving, 40.4% of those polled said that they paid for their moves with cash (the most popular payment method by far).
While it may require a few months of careful budgeting and frugal living, the relief that comes from having your move paid for and done with as soon as your boxes are unloaded is well worth the effort.
Plus, some moving companies offer discounts to customers who pay with cash up front. While these discounts aren’t enormous, every little bit helps when you’re cleaning out your savings to pay for a big move.
If you’re moving on short notice, then you probably don’t have time to save up the thousands of dollars you need to cover your moving costs. But if you’ve got a good credit score—and you can safely commit to making monthly payments—a low-interest personal loan may be an option.
While interest rates and maximum borrowable amounts will vary based on which lender you go with and how good your credit is, this option is often better than maxing out a credit card.
Only 3.6% of the people we surveyed said that they paid for their moves by taking out loans. This may be because people are more familiar (and perhaps more comfortable) with credit card debt.
If taking out a loan sounds like the ideal option for your situation, but you’re not sure how to find a trustworthy lender, we recommend checking out NerdWallet’s list of personal loans for moving expenses.
With higher interest rates than moving loans, credit cards are often the most expensive way to pay for your move. However, if your credit score isn’t high enough to take out a loan and you don’t have time to save money, a credit card might be your only viable option.
You may be able to avoid the financial pitfalls of a steep interest rate if you can get approved for a new card with a promotional 0% APR. A card with an introductory 0% APR won’t charge you any interest within the promotional period, which can last from 6 to 21 months after you open your account.2
If you get approved for a new credit card that charges no interest for 12 months and use it to pay for your move, you’ll need to pay only the principal amount you borrowed as long as you pay it all off within the 12-month period.
However, after the promotional period is up, any amount of debt still left on the card will start accruing interest at the usual rate. Some cards may apply that interest rate to your entire initial balance (called “deferred interest”) even if you have just pennies left to pay off. This is why we recommend this method only to people who earn enough money to quickly pay off the amount of credit they use.
Despite the potential dangers of credit card debt, 29.6% of people we surveyed said that they paid for their moves using credit cards, making this the second most popular payment method after cash.