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Why Nearly Every Purchase Should be made with a credit Card
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Why Nearly Every Purchase Should Be on a Credit Card
Credit cards are safe and convenient They help to build credit, simplify budgeting, and they are rewarded with rewards. No, you don’t have to go into the debt trap, and you don’t have to pay interest.
Written by Virginia C. McGuire Virginia McGuire was previously a credit cards journalist for NerdWallet. She is journalist with experience covering personal financial, real estate, business, architecture and design. Her work has been published on the Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, The Awl and Mental Floss.
as well as Paul Soucy Lead Assigning Editor Credit cards, credit scoring Personal financial planning Paul Soucy has led the Credit Cards content team at NerdWallet since the year 2015. He served as an editor for USA Today, The Des Moines Register and the Meredith/Better Homes and Gardens family of magazines for over 20 years. He also built a successful freelance writing and editing practice that focuses on personal and business finances. He was editor of USA Today Weekly International Edition for six years and received the most prestigious award by ACES: The Society for Editing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism, as well as a Master of Business Administration. His home is in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, two sons, as well as the dog named Sam.
Nov 3, 2022
Editor: Paul Soucy Lead Assigning Editor Credit cards, credit scoring, personal financial planning Paul Soucy leads the credit cards content team at NerdWallet. He worked as an editor for the Des Moines Register, USA Today and Meredith/Better Homes and Gardens for over 20 years. He after which he established a successful freelance editing and writing practice. He edited his work for the USA Today Weekly International Edition and was awarded the most prestigious honor of the year from ACES: The Society for Editing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism, as well as a master of Business Administration.
The majority or all of the items featured on this page are from our partners who compensate us. This impacts the types of products we review as well as the place and way the product appears on a page. But, it doesn’t affect our assessments. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of and .
Cash used to be king. People would pay for purchases with cash or with checks (which are functionally equivalent to cash) They also saved credit cards for big and frequent purchases -if they even had credit cards. Today credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, and some don’t even carry cash.
In general, NerdWallet suggests whenever possible:
Credit cards are more secure to carry than cash , and offer stronger fraud protections than debit.
You can earn significant rewards without changing the way you spend money.
It’s easier to monitor your spending .
A responsible use of credit cards is one of the easiest and fastest ways to build credit .
Credit cards are a great way to spend money . You can spend money the way normal, pay the balance in full each month, and you’ll reap the advantages of credit cards, without being in debt or paying any interest.
The top credit card for 2023
Cash back, 0% APR, balance transfer — browse our Best-Of Awards for the top credit cards of the year.
Credit cards are more secure to carry and use
If you lose your wallet or are taken hostage, the money you carried will probably be lost for good. If thieves go on a spending in your credit cards, you generally won’t be held accountable for any fraudulent purchases. It may take some time to sort out the resulting mess, but you’ll never lose any money.
Debit cards, too, pose a risk. When your credit card gets used in a fraudulent manner the issuer of the card who loses the money. If your debit card is misused, . If you notify the fraudster promptly, you should receive your money backat some point. It could take some time until you are able to sort things out. In the meantime the checks could bounce, automatic payments might be denied because of insufficient funds and you may face a hard time covering the cost of your expenses.
Credit cards can earn rewards easily
Credit card rewards exist to make it easier for customers to make use of their credit card, and are extremely persuasive. With a basic flat-rate card that pays the same amount on every purchase, you can get back 1.5 percent or even 2 percent of every dollar you spend, whether as cash or as points or miles you can use to pay for travel or other purchases. If you spend $1,000 per month and you can make between $180 and $240 each year, without any effort.
Other cards pay higher rewards in specific areas of spending, like groceries, gas or restaurants. Combining a few cards and you’ll be able to increase your reward significantly.
As an example, suppose a family has four popular cash back credit cards- the , the , and the . Using them strategically, that family could make hundreds of dollars each year in cash back
$400 a month
$150 / month
*5% over three months
* 3% for 9 months
$100 / month
* 5 % for six months
* 3% for six months
$100 / month
* 5percent for six months
* 2% for six months
$50 / month
$1,000 / year
$1,000 / month
Learn how rewards are earned
The Blue Cash Preferred(r) Card from American Express earns 6% cash back up to $6,000 a year in spending on U.S. supermarkets, then 1percent (terms are applicable — refer to ).
For three months: The it(r) it(r) Cash Back earns 5% cash back on up to $1500 per quarter when you spend in categories you choose to activate, as well as 1 percent on purchases made elsewhere. In 2020, restaurants were an area that earned 5% for a quarter.
For nine months: The Chase Freedom Flex(sm) earns cash back of 3% in restaurants.
For three months: The Chase Freedom Flex(sm) earns you 5% cash back on up to $1500 of spending in categories for quarterly that you activate. The year 2020 was the last time Chase included gas stations in a 5% category for three months.
Three months in a row: 2020, it(r) Cash Back was a part of the It(r) Cash Back program was introduced. it(r) Cash Back had gas stations as an 5% category for three months.
The card is valid for six months. The Blue Cash Preferred(r) Card of American Express earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations (terms apply).
For six months in the year 2020 Chase and Discover had Amazon.com as the 5% category three months apiece.
The card is valid for six months. The Citi(r) Double Cash Card earns 2% cash back on all purchases — 1cent when you purchase and 1% when you pay it off.
The Blue Cash Preferred(r) Card from American Express earns 6% cash back on select U.S streaming subscriptions (terms are applicable).
Chase Freedom Flex Chase Flex Flex(sm) earns 5 percent cash back on trips booked through Chase.
Utilize your Citi(r) Double Cash Card and earn 2% cashback.
An important note of warning, be sure to not spend more money than you would just to get additional benefits. A little cash back isn’t enough to make up that additional $100 at the supermarket store , or the extra $250 worth of clothing. If you carry the balance from month months the interest you accrue will more than take the value of your rewards and you should pay it all in full whenever possible.
Credit cards can help you monitor your the amount you spend
Maintaining a budget can be a challenge no matter how you spend your money. However, determining where your cash went is particularly difficult. You can lose receipts, and you’ll often have no record of how much you spent or the place the money went. Checks? Don’t remember to add one to your check register, and you’ll need keep waiting for the recipient to cash it before you can trace it (and certain people are known for holding on to checks for months).
With credit cards, everything shows up on your account online in near real-time. Additionally the majority of issuers automatically classify purchases according to the merchant:
Purchases on an Chase credit card are categorized by categories.
Most major issuers also let you generate reports to track the amount you’ve paid for across various categories in the month you’re in, all year long or for a time period that you define:
Spending report on a Chase credit card.
If you use an app for budgeting, such as Mint and You Need a Budget, you can import the data from your credit card and bank accounts. This allows you to place each purchase in the budget category and to determine where you’re spending too much, and the best places to spend a bit.
Credit cards help build credit
There is no requirement to use a credit card to have good credit and you certainly don’t have to carry the balance. However, careful use of a credit card is the most effective way to increase your credit scores and opens up many doors. It can make it easy to get housing, whether a potential landlord checks your credit score prior to granting you keys or applying for a mortgage to buy a home. Cell phone companies, insurance agents and utility companies also might use your credit history to determine your eligibility and even the rates you pay. It could even increase the chances of getting a job, as numerous employers conduct credit checks on prospective employees.
If you do own credit card, you can use it to make regular small purchases, keeping your balances low and paying your bill promptly will increase your credit score in the long run.
Not to use a credit card
If you’ll need to pay an extra fee Processing fees are charged by merchants every time you use credit card. Most times, these charges are included in the merchant’s prices, like any other expense associated with doing business. Sometimes, however, a retailer may pass the processing cost to the customer directly, by adding an upfront charge (or “convenience fee” to use your credit card. In these instances you’ll likely need to pay some other way, unless your rewards from your credit card are sufficient to cancel out the surcharge.
If you don’t want to force the merchant to be charged a fee Additionally, you might prefer not to use credit cards with smaller merchants that you would like to help. They may be happy to pay cash or via check, as they won’t be required to pay processing fees. In fact, debit cards are much better than credit cards issued by merchants’ perspective, since processing fees for debit cards can be less than what you’d be charged for a credit-card transaction.
When you don’t want to overspend: Some people have a hard time keeping their spending under control when they use a credit card. A credit card limit of five figures might make it hard to remember why you shouldn’t spend your money on that expensive object. If you’re getting close to your credit limit or you’re worried about racking up the credit card debt You might want to reach for your debit card or use cash.
There are many positive benefits for consumers who use credit cards. Find out the one that is right for you. Be sure to budget your money wisely, whichever method of payment you choose.
For rates and charges of the Blue Cash Preferred(r) Card from American Express , see .
Authors’ Bio: Virginia C. McGuire was a former credit card editor for NerdWallet.
Paul Soucy is the lead editor of credit cards at NerdWallet. He has previously worked for USA Today and the Des Moines Register and has an MBA.
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