With daily credit card offers in the mail and the prospects of a cashless society becoming more and more realistic, you might ask yourself, “should I get a credit card?” Sure, debit cards and cash may seem like more effective ways to stay under budget, but if used responsibly, the benefits of having a credit card definitely outweigh the negatives.
How exactly? Glad you asked. Our San Diego credit union specialists are here to help. Let’s dive in!
As our society progresses, fewer and fewer people carry cash on them. Why worry about a wad of money rolled up in your pocket when you can just carry one lightweight piece of plastic? Not to mention, a higher number of businesses accept credit cards versus debit cards. Credit cards can be particularly convenient when it comes to travel. For example:
- Housing and rental cars are easier to book with credit cards
- Rental services will not put large holds on your credit card, as they do with debit
- Credit cards have low or no foreign exchange rates
It is not only the purchases themselves that makes credit cards so convenient. In addition, credit cards:
- Help you stay organized
- Make preparing for tax season easy
- Are easy to manage with balance transfers
All credit card companies and credit unions offer helpful records of your spending. Whether you prefer hardcopy, or paperless online accounts your monthly statement will be available to you. Monthly statements allow you to view a breakdown of costs, so that you can manage your funds better.
Doing your taxes can be a huge pain, but having a credit card can help alleviate stress during this time. Many credit card companies send you your year-end summary. This will save you hours of monotonous tax prep. Some online credit card accounts also offer specific breakdowns for spending categories, such as travel, donations, medical, etc.
Debt is one of the most stressful things plaguing Americans today. Credit cards are one way to manage and pay off your debt easier and more effectively. How? through balance transfers. They allow you to:
- Shift your credit card debt, from one card to another
- Move other debts, such as monthly installment payments, or car loans to a credit card with lower interest rates
- Consolidate debt
Build Your Credit Score
As you become an adult, one of the most important things you will learn is how to build good credit. Your credit score will follow you throughout your life. Whether you are trying to rent an apartment, purchase your first home, or borrow money from credit card companies for a cool new restaurant you want to open; you will need a good credit history. So, how do you build and improve your credit score?
- Own a credit card
- Pay your credit card on time
As long as you follow a monthly payment plan and are consistent with your purchases, you will be able to build good credit in no time.
Credit Cards Act as Small Loans
Have you ever wanted to buy something, when you have not got paid? A credit card can help with that! Being able to put purchases on your card and pay it later, is one of the biggest benefits of having a credit card. It is essentially a zero-interest loan for 30 days.
Just make sure you pay off your credit card balance every month! Mounting card debt is no laughing matter.
No one wants to have their identity stolen, but sometimes it can happen. Having a credit card can help mitigate the damage done to your bank account and get your life back on track. This is how:
- The identity thief starts making purchases
- You check your online account to track their spending
- You notify your credit card company about the theft
- The company puts a hold on your card
- You get reimbursed for all the theft charges
- Police are better able to track who stole your identity through the trail of purchases
Another advantage of having a credit card is customer protection. Say you buy a specific item with your credit card. Once you get home and examine the purchase, you realize it is damaged or the quality is poor. What do you do?
You can return the item and get the charge removed, because you purchased it with your credit card. A credit card can also provide extended warranties on certain items from furniture, to electronics and on other items you intend to use for a long period of time.
- Often, credit cards double the time on a manufacturer’s warranty; so keep your receipts!
- If the manufacturer or store will not accept the return, talk to your credit card company — they will fight on your behalf.
Now it’s time for the fun — free stuff! Perhaps one of the best parts of getting a new credit card is reaping the benefits of all the bonuses. With so many credit cards out there, companies like to entice you to sign up for their card over competitors. Some perks include:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Cash back on purchases
- Rewards points
As a ‘welcome and thank you’ gift, most credit cards offer bonuses for signing up. However, you will typically need to spend an ‘x’ amount of dollars in a specific time period to receive the bonus. Often, you will also get bonuses for referring other people; so make sure the whole family has credit cards and collect those bonuses!
What’s better than buying things? Earning money while buying things! You can do this simply by making purchases on a cash-back card. Cash rewards are usually from one to six percent of your grand purchase total. It might not seem like much, but those percentages add up over time.
Credit Card Rewards
There are more rewards programs for credit cards than you can possibly imagine. The key is to join a rewards program that fits with your current spending habits, or works with a business you already use. Some popular credit card rewards programs include:
- Reward Points: The more you spend, the more rewards points you get. Cash in points for rewards such as gift cards.
- Frequent Flyer: The more loyal you are to a specific airline, the more points (spending money) you will get from the airline. Plus, you might even get upgraded to first-class!
- Spending Rewards: If you spend money in categories such as gas, groceries, etc., you will get rewards.
- Travel Rewards: This is similar to spending rewards, but better for people who travel often. By signing up for these, you receive ‘credit card miles’
Last, but certainly not least, credit cards are crucial when it comes to emergencies. Ideally your emergency fund should amount to six months to one year of your annual income. These emergency funds are designed to keep you afloat, in case of medical emergencies, a layoff, or other unforeseen circumstances. Realistically though, having an emergency fund is not always possible, but it is the ideal.
This is where credit cards come in. A credit card can help you balance those unexpected expenses you may have not planned for. In order to give yourself maximum flexibility, it is advised that you keep the lowest possible balance on your card and have a high spending limit.
Credit Card That Works For You
As you can tell, the benefits of using a credit card have far-reaching effects. Not only are they accepted in more places than debit cards, but they are safer, have more rewards, and theoretically, you have more money available in times of emergency. The only downside is the debt that can be accrued, but that can be avoided by keeping on top of your finances through responsible monthly payment plans.
For a credit card that works for your specific needs, talk to Mission Federal today about opening up a line of credit.
The content provided is intended for informational purposes. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. References to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name in this article does not constitute endorsement, control or warranty by Mission Federal Credit Union.
360 Degrees of Financial Literacy. Credit Cards: The Pros and Cons. https://www.360financialliteracy.org/Topics/Credit-and-Debt/Credit-Cards-and-Reports/Credit-Cards-The-Pros-and-Cons
Money Under 30. 12 Reasons Credit Cards are Must Haves for Financial Wellbeing. https://www.moneyunder30.com/advantages-to-using-a-credit-card