Here’s why credit cards aren’t the awful tool some people will tell you they are.
- Some experts caution against using credit cards since they can potentially lead to debt.
- There are many benefits to using credit cards consumers should be aware of.
- Credit cards enable users to earn cash back, save time, and gain financial protection not available with cash.
“If you get into the habit of swiping credit cards, you’ll wind up with a pile of debt.” Such is the warning many financial experts have taken upon themselves to issue through the years in the hopes of sparing consumers a world of financial regret.
Now the reality is that credit cards can be a dangerous tool — if you abuse them and don’t pay attention to how much you’re charging, thereby racking up debt you’re forced to carry forward for a long time. But if you manage your credit cards well, they can actually improve your life in more ways than one. Here’s how.
1. They can save you money via cash back and other perks
We can all agree that saving money is a positive thing. And often, credit cards lend to that — if not directly, then indirectly.
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When you use a travel rewards credit card to book a trip, you may be privy to certain perks, like free checked bags or discounted in-flight purchases. Those are positive things.
Plus, many credit cards offer cash back or other rewards on everyday purchases. Now, let’s imagine that instead of buying a year’s worth of groceries in cash, you use a credit card at the supermarket and snag $200 cash back as a result. That’s effectively free money. After all, you needed that food to feed yourself and your family, only now you’ve gotten some cash to spend on other bills because you swiped a credit card to pay for it.
2. They can save you time
Unless you’re someone who feels comfortable keeping piles of cash around, using a credit card could mean avoiding weekly trips to the ATM. If you maintain a busy schedule, that’s a definite perk. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about losing physical cash. (Granted, you could always misplace your credit card, but ideally, that won’t happen.)
3. They can offer you protection cash won’t
If you buy something using cash and it winds up being damaged or defective, at that point, all you can do is hope that the merchant you purchased it from stands behind its product. But if you buy something broken or damaged using a credit card, you get built-in protection.
If the merchant in question refuses to refund your costs or replace the item at hand, you’ll have the option to dispute the charge with your credit card company. That way, you won’t get stuck paying for a bum product.
It’s easy to see why credit cards lead many consumers into debt. Often, the spending limits attached to these cards aren’t reflective of what the people swiping them can actually afford. But if you make a point to set your own spending limit (as opposed to the one your credit card company gives you) based on your income and expenses, and you’re careful with the purchases you make, you can enjoy all of the upsides of credit cards without having to deal with the consequences of debt.
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