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Shopping for Furniture with a Bad Credit Score?

Written by
Alex Huntsberger
Alex Huntsberger is a personal finance writer who covered online lending, credit scores, and employment for OppU. His work has been cited by, Business Insider, and The Motley Fool.
Read time: 7 min
Updated on April 10, 2024
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Here are tips to find quality furniture for a fraction of the price and without high interest rates.

In a world where people frequently move, it’s hard to justify investing in pricey pieces of furniture. Not to mention, the price of investment pieces can be out of our budget, leading us to finance the new furniture we want with personal loans or credit cards.

While you probably don’t want to buy low quality furniture that is bound to fall apart in six months, you also want to make sure the furniture you choose isn’t going to leave you with a mound of debt, high interest rates, or an empty bank account. At the same time, if you have less than good credit (below 680), your financing options will be limited.

So, what should someone looking for furniture do? Sitting on cardboard moving boxes is bad for your posture, but there are ways to acquire new furniture without negatively impacting your credit history. That being said, consider your credit score when deciding how you intend to pay for the upgrade.

Ask the furniture store

If you are set on buying new furniture, find out if the store offers financing options, but proceed with caution. Regardless of your credit score, you may see furniture financing offers that include words like “0% APR” and “no down payment.”

Before you pick out a mahogany dresser or authorize a credit check, make sure you clearly understand the store’s financing plans. They may have a monthly payment option or a store credit card available; however, remember that the person at the register is probably not qualified to offer financial advice. Examine the terms carefully, including the APR, any potential fees, and if you can repay the loan ahead of schedule.

Make sure to do the math carefully before you purchase. Financing can be the most expensive option, so make sure you understand the terms before taking this route. Even smaller expenses like furniture can lead down a spiral of debt that harms the credit score.

Watch out for 0% rates

Some furniture stores will have signs that advertise 0% rates for a certain number of months after the purchase date, which means you’ll pay no interest on your purchase if the loan is paid in full before that time.

However, these deals can be tricky to navigate and easy to lose. If you pay your bill late, the 0% promotional period offer may be withdrawn and any interest you originally saved may be added to your balance. You can avoid this by simply paying your bill on time every month and signing up for their autopay service, if possible.

Additionally, read the contract to make sure the lender will not assess an early repayment fee if you pay off the balance ahead of time.

Look for other options

Rather than setting up a payment plan or looking for a special financing offer that will let you buy the love seats and dining sets on your wishlist, consider alternative approaches to your furniture purchases that are less likely to involve credit approval:

Scroll through deal sites

People often sell perfectly good furniture at a huge discount on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace; sometimes they even give it away for free. The Freecycle Network is also worth browsing; it’s a geographically-based network where people can post free items for others to claim. You may be surprised by how many people get rid of high-end pieces because they’re redecorating or moving.

Just be careful. Certain furniture items can be home for unpleasant critters. Carefully inspect and think twice before taking any free bedroom furniture or fabric-based pieces.

Go vintage

OppLoans contributor Carly Marie recommends the following:

“Buying vintage furniture is a great way to purchase well-built furniture for the prices of a new mid-range couch. If it’s 50 years old and still solid, it will probably last another 50 years. A lot of older furniture manufacturing practices are of higher quality than products created in today’s disposable manufacturing culture. Vintage furniture is also less likely to have been self-assembled, which tends to reduce durability.

“Sometimes vintage furniture needs a little TLC in the form of repainting, restaining, or reupholstering, especially if you have certain colors in mind, but it can be worth it, especially if the skeleton of the piece is great.

“It might be best to search for vintage furniture locally. Most towns have antique stores with curated furniture in good condition. Individuals also sell vintage furniture on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other local selling apps like LetGo or Nextdoor. You can also purchase it online, but the shipping will likely be expensive.

“Another option for vintage furniture is a good estate sale. Estate sales are conducted to liquidate property, often when someone has died, gone bankrupt, or is going through a divorce. These kinds of sales are likely to have older, high-quality furniture for cheap, since the estate is just trying to get rid of it and move on.

“Best of all, many vintage styles of furniture are trendy again, so you don’t have to sacrifice on aesthetics.”

If you prefer new, try a cheaper store

Mainstays like Ikea are still popular if you don’t mind assembling furniture yourself. You could buy the basics like a bed frame, coffee table, and chair for a few hundred bucks in exchange for a couple of hours of hands-on work. Ikea also delivers furniture for a small fee in case your car isn’t big enough to load up your new gear.

You can buy new furniture, but for less at shops like Tuesday Morning, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. These kinds of stores sell overstocked goods or leftover goods at a discount. The items are still new, and often higher-quality brands.  Available items in these stores are often on-trend, so it’s a good way to balance out the look of the Victorian couch you may have bought at an antique store. These stores sometimes even have coupons or loyalty rewards available to make your new furniture an even better deal.

Ask your friends

No matter what kind of furniture you’re looking to buy, use the power of social media to help. You never know who in your circle has a dining room set or home office furniture they’re looking to unload. People will often give you their stuff for free if you can transport it yourself.

Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to accept help. Most of us start with hand-me-down furniture and don’t mind helping someone in a similar situation. If your pride gets in the way, just make sure to pay it forward when you eventually upgrade.

Get crafty

Ever find the perfect dining room table at your local Salvation Army but you hate the color so you don’t buy it? Cosmetic details like color or finish are sometimes easy to change and don’t require more than a standard set of tools or brushes. You can find tutorials on YouTube on how to remove paint and apply a different finish.

If you see a used piece of furniture with good structure and no weird smells, consider the possibilities. Could a coat of paint make it fit your aesthetic? Would different knobs completely change how that entertainment center works in your living room? Don’t say no to furniture that doesn’t look perfect until you’ve considered its potential.

Scour college curbs

If you live near a college campus, you should check out the dorms and apartments close to graduation time. Many students put their furniture on the curb where it’s up for grabs. Universities with high number of international students are famous for having TVs and other pricey electronics available for free if you’re in the right place at the right time.

Good luck deal hunting

Finding a good deal on a furniture item may require some patience, but in the end, you’ll have the reward of a beautifully decorated home within your budget. It is advisable not to take out a personal loan for typically big-ticket items when there are ways to snag great furniture on the cheap.

Article contributors
Carly Marie

Carly Marie is a content marketing specialist from Florida who covers personal finance. Through her writing, she strives to educate and connect with readers.

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