The credit card seems to be the ubiquitous way to pay these days. Everyone has one, in fact, many people appear to have more than one. Choose carefully before you get your next card, and follow the simple rules and warning in this article.
Even if you are one of the millions who use a credit card, you may still be unaware of the benefits and pitfalls of this potentially dangerous financial vehicle.
We will look at some of the pros later, but first, let’s make sure we know what a dangerous beast we are dealing with.
The Dangers Of Credit Cards
Let’s not be in any doubt. Credit cards are potentially very damaging to your financial health.
The main problem is that you can, in many cases, obtain credit that far exceeds your ability to repay.
For instance, it isn’t unreasonable to get a card that offers £2000 or more in credit. That means, that between receiving one paycheck and the next, you could run up that much in debt. Now, the credit card company will let you pay this off slowly, but the interest on the loan is enormous!
Never, ever, just pay the minimum amount on your credit card. Always pay the debt in full each month.
If you do end up with large credit card debt, then this can be damaging to your credit score as well as being very difficult to maintain payments.
With that out of the way, let’s examine how you can use these cards to your advantage;
The Benefits Of Using A Credit Card
First, there is a correct way to use a credit card. Follow these simple rules, and you’re golden.
- Don’t treat your card as a credit card. If you can’t afford the purchase, don’t buy it.
- Pay off the card immediately. Really, immediately, like as soon as you get home.
- If you don’t pay it off immediately, make sure you always pay off the full amount at the end of the month.
Using a credit card is much safer than carrying cash, and it’s much safer than using a debit card. When you make purchases with a credit card, you are protected by the Section 75, Consumer Credit Act, 1974, which will allow you to charge back the cost of an item if it is faulty or isn’t as it was described.
You’ll also be protected if your item doesn’t arrive, or if the seller will not issue a refund.
This makes internet shopping much safer. Always internet shop with your credit card, not your debit card.
Improved Credit Rating
Using your credit card responsibly will improve your credit rating. When it can be demonstrated that you pay off the card regularly and in full, your credit score will improve. This will make obtaining a mortgage or other financial vehicles much easier.
Earn Points For Extra Savings
Choosing which card you get can be important. Different cards will have different offers. As you spend, you’ll be able to earn points which you can use to save on things like flights, holidays, or petrol and groceries.
If you use your card for all your purchases and pay it off immediately, these points can really add up.
So, hopefully, you can see that the credit card is a double-edged sword, but one that, with a modicum of common sense can be handled safely and to your advantage.