Financial experts worldwide will let you believe that credit cards are “evil” and give you plenty of reasons convincing you from using them. If you are tempted by credit and have uncontrollable spending habits then you will windup in debt. If this sounds like you then that financial advice is golden, stick to cash for everything. It will keep you out of trouble. However if you can use a credit card responsibly, paying off your balance in full each month, credit cards offer some great benefits. Here are 9 reasons to use your credit card instead of cash:
Unless you are using the underside of your mattress to hoard your money, it is certainly safer not to carry cash on you. If your wallet or purse is lost or you are unfortunately mugged, the cash is gone forever! There is basically little chance you will be able to recover the money that you have lost.
What could possibly be even worse is using a debit card for making purchases. Debit cards are only protected by your PIN while paying and can easily be revealed whilst you are keying in your PIN on the keypad or hacked by thieves leaving your bank account wide open! When your debit card is used fraudulently the money is taken from your bank account instantly. If you have debit order payments on your account that typically go off at the end of the month they may bounce, triggering insufficient funds fees. These insufficient funds fees are charged with harsh penalties for each debit order payment activated. Furthermore late payments can lower your credit score. Alerting the bank of the fraudulent transactions is essential however it can take a while before any money reversals are made while the bank makes an investigation.
Carrying a credit card is safer, because it is PIN and CHIP protected, only you will be able to make purchases and payments. If the card is lost or stolen, it does not mean that the thieves can take your money. The card can be easily cancelled and your card replaced by your bank as long as you report the theft within two days. Credit cards also have built in fraud protection and it’s much easier to get refunded for fraudulent transactions.
2. Protection Against Non-delivery
If you made your purchases with cash and the items you receive are damaged or poor quality you don’t have a leg to stand on. Same goes for paying cash for terrible or no service! Cash has no built in protection against non-delivery.
However if you used a credit card for online goods and services you are able to withhold payment by enforcing the Fair Credit Billing Act. This is only applicable if the items received are clearly poor quality, damaged or service provided sub-standard. But before taking this route, your bank will want to see evidence that you have first tried to resolve the matter with the seller. There is normally a minimum threshold value too however most credit card companies will action the dispute and resolve the matter irrespective of the amount.
The good news is that credit cards nowadays are offered with return guarantees, price and warranty protection. This makes it very attractive to make purchases using your card as there is always the opportunity to have issues resolved with your card company.
3. Cash Back Rewards
Unlike paying with cash which has no rewards, credit card companies have either a rewards program where points are earned from purchases or they give you anywhere from 1-5% cash back. Why pay cash and give up the extra money earned through rewards?
In the case where you automatically earn points, these can be redeemed for products and services in the rewards programs shop or affiliated websites that use the virtual points. Points can even be invested into unit trusts for future growth. Some of these rewards programs can be quite complicated but if you put some time into studying how they work you can easily boost you balance and earn more.
Some advice is to pick credit cards that reward you for your lifestyle. If you travel a lot or flying a certain airline, get the travel rewards card that matches and earn a free flight. It seems every airline has at least one credit card whereby you can rack up frequent-flyer miles at a rate of one mile per a dollar spent. Some cards offer a percentage back on fuel or groceries, so get this card if you are the grocery shopper or travel long distance.
4. Signup Bonuses
Most debit cards offer very small rewards or no rewards at all however with credit cards the rewards can be substantial when the card is used responsibly. New applicants with a good credit record history can get credit card approval that offer a signup bonus. The once off signup bonuses can be worth anywhere between $50 to $250 or even more, provided that you spend a certain amount to qualify. Other cards may offer you a signup bonus, such as large pile of reward points, as mentioned earlier that can be redeemed at an online shop or used for air travel etc. There is definite financial sense in using a credit card when signup bonuses are involved. You gain no financial benefits by paying cash and you lose the opportunity to grab some easy money.
Some people have taken this a step further and signup to multiple credit cards to claim a total of $800 of signup bonuses. If exercised properly to qualify and claim each signup bonus on each card, then retiring the card, they have effectively maximized the bonuses and rewards. Consequently this exercise of opening and closing accounts is likely to damage your credit score but over time it will bounce back.
5. Easy Access To Foreign Currency And Safer Travelling Abroad
I can attest to how having a credit card in a foreign country makes life so easy. It is a big hassle trying to exchange foreign currency at airport kiosk for local cash, just to buy a bottle of water and a sandwich. Airport kiosks sometimes have the most outrageous exchange rates and charge high fees. It is such a relief to simply make purchases with your credit card which offers a better rate of exchange.
Most major credit cards are accepted at international retailers, hotels and car rental companies. Last time I was in the UK, I literally swiped my card for everything without a hitch. If you really need cash, the credit card can be used at overseas ATMs but there are usually some heavy fees applied.
Carrying cash in your wallet or purse makes you a target for criminals. If the money is lost or stolen you will never get it back. It is highly advisable to carry very little cash when traveling. Foreign currency can be confusing and if you not careful locals will take advantage of your inability to recognize different denominations. Credit cards are just safer and more convenient when you are far away from home. Swiping is faster and gives the exact amount for payment, it is painful to sit and count coins.
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According Wisebread, there are many other benefits to using a credit card when traveling, as long as you have the right card that offers the travel–related benefits. Such benefits are free access to airport lounges, travel insurance, baggage insurance and tracking of lost luggage and emergency medical transportation assistance.
6. Car Hire And Rental Insurance
When it comes to car hire, nothing can be simpler than using a credit card. Most major car hire companies require your card details upfront, before dealing with you. This is because it is easier to charge customers for any damage cause to the car in an accident. Damages would simply be charged to the card. If you paid for car hire with cash, the company would likely insist that several hundred dollars are handed over as surety. This would be refunded back to you after you finished the car hire period and delivered the car undamaged and with a full tank of fuel.
Carefully read the rules as some credit cards offer rental insurance as a free benefit. This means that they will cover you in terms of the car hire’s collision damage waiver. Not all types of rentals are covered but realizing this benefit can save you some money.
7. Accepted form of Payment Worldwide
Quite literally credit cards are accepted worldwide as the common means of payment. That is great news as having 5 different currencies in your wallet not very comfortable to sit on. If you wanted to travel or make purchases online then I would say get yourself either a Visa or a MasterCard or both. You cannot go wrong! According to Credit Card Chasers, their findings revealed that Visa and MasterCard cards are accepted in 200 countries worldwide. American Express and Discover are hit-and-miss when it comes to getting accepted. In foreign countries business will not accept your debit card as a means of payment, even when it bears a major bank logo.
8. Online Shopping
The number one reason why I got my first credit card almost 10 years ago purely because it was the only way to purchase an online service! Shopping online has become hugely popular way to purchase virtually anything from groceries to high-end electronics. It has become so easy to access anything globally that the entire world is now your marketplace not just the shops in your streets. The top 5 benefits of online shopping are:
The majority of online stores will offer lower prices to their customers.
You don’t need to leave your house, or wait for the shop to open. You don’t need to go to the ATM weekly for cash. Online stores are always open and you can visit multiple websites easily to find the product you want to buy. This can save you an incredible amount of time.
Shopping online allows you to find products that you would not normally be able buy in a physical shop. Online stores can stock a wide range of products too.
Fewer Marketing Traps
Ever noticed how the milk and bread is always at the back of the shop? This is a sales strategy to lure you into buying extra things, as you pass by. With online shopping these tactics are limited and you don’t feel pressured into buying other stuff.
Shopping online gives you privacy to make certain purchases that would otherwise make some people feel uncomfortable. Buying for example naughty lingerie in a physical shop can be a nerve-racking experience or cause you embarrassment.
9. Tracking Your Expenses And Having Proof Of Your Purchases
Having cash in your wallet or purse, it can be tempting to overspend or make impulse purchases which make you have second thoughts. Paying with cash and you will likely get a receipt which can easily get lost.
The great advantage of a credit card is that you can track your daily and monthly transactions on a detailed statement. It is awesome to have secure online statements as a backup, some card companies archiving the information for a number of years. Your online statements can assist you with monthly budgeting and help you understand your spending habits and how you are able to save in the near future.
What is further helpful is using credit card reports and statements as a tool for your tax return. All tax deductions are tracked on your cards statements. If you own property which you make a rental from, you will be able to provide proof for maintenance expenses during that financial year and deduct it from your tax return. Another example can be charitable contributions which will reflect on the credit card report.