Co-authors: William Jolly and Michelle Norton
If you are not disciplined and find your credit card too tempting, then you might be better off cutting it up. Credit cards can get you into financial trouble, particularly if you are an impulse buyer. And of course, if you already owe money on your credit card, then paying it off should be your top priority.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – credit cards are not the source of all financial evil.
If you do have the self-discipline to manage your spending, there can be some great advantages to using a credit card. Here are 13 ways credit cards can make your life easier.Compare credit cards with Canstar
1. Rewards programs
There are many credit cards that have great reward programs, but they need to work for you. There is no point overspending or buying things you don’t need just to get points. So, think about how you use your credit card and then choose which program would benefit you most. You can spend credit card rewards points on all sorts of things, from flights and car hires to petrol and grocery shopping.
Also, check if there is an annual fee for the card. Sometimes these can be paid for with points but you need to make sure you would earn enough points in the year to pay off the fee and get something with the leftover points.
You can compare Rewards credit cards on the Canstar website:
You can also have a look at the Rewards credit cards that were awarded a 5-Star Rating in our 2017 Credit Card Research.
2. Frequent Flyer miles
If your lifestyle is one that involves a lot of travel and time spent in airport lounges, then a Frequent Flyer credit card might be the right option for you.
These cards are very similar to rewards cards in that you earn points by making purchases, but they are made with the purpose of spending said points on flights, lounges and concierge services. You can also spend points to upgrade your existing economy seat to business and first class.
However, if you like spending points on things like gift cards and everyday stuff, then a Frequent Flyer card probably isn’t right for you, as the rates for these purchases tend to be comparatively poor.
3. Sign-up bonuses
Many credit cards offer attractive bonuses that reward you for signing up with them, such as large amounts of bonus points, complimentary flights, low or nonexistent fees and other long-term perks, such as promotional and reduced interest rates.
However, not all cards with a signup bonus are good value, so you need to have a close look at the terms and conditions before applying. Chances are, there will be certain requirements that need to be met, such a minimum expenditure in the first few months. If these requirements are in line with your spending habits, then a credit card with a signup bonus can be excellent value.
As opposed to Rewards cards, which earn you points for spending money on certain things, cashback cards pay the money back into your account. These cards will save you money based on your monthly expenses, and the amount you’ll get back will depend on the credit card’s cashback rate.
5. Complimentary travel insurance
Most credit cards come with a number of consumer protections, including rental car insurance, purchase protection insurance, extended warranty insurance and even travel insurance.
These complementary extras can save you a great deal of time and money as well as peace of mind, so it might be worth looking for credit cards that offer travel insurance.
6. Fraud protection
With the wealth of scams and phishing attacks that are occurring today, it is reassuring to know that the vast majority of credit cards on the market cover security and fraud protection, keeping your money safe from fraudulent purchases.
For example, Visa credit cards have the ‘Verified by Visa’ technology in them, which instantly monitors your account for suspicious purchases. If your card is used fraudulently, you can simply notify your credit card company. Doing so means you won’t have to pay for that transaction while they sort out a new card for you.
7. Convenient and safe online shopping
Not only are credit cards convenient to use for daily point-of-purchase shopping, but they’re also much easier to use online. As mentioned above, most credit cards now come with several layers of security and fraud protection, so you’re at little risk of losing your money when making online purchases. Most sites also give the added benefit of saving your credit card details. If you’re using a reputable website that you trust, this can be a great way to save time on future shops.
8. Less cash on hand
Credit cards are not only a more convenient payment option for a lot of people, but they are also safer; a credit card can be quickly cancelled if it is stolen. Cash can never be retrieved if you lose it, unless you’re lucky enough to find it again.
9. Works in any currency
You can take your credit card with you overseas in order to make purchases in a foreign country; you will be charged a relatively minor currency conversion fee in the meantime. There are even some cards that don’t charge a currency conversion fee in certain stores and countries.
Travel credit cards are a popular way to spend money overseas, and good ones offer strong exchange rates, concierge services and pre-authorisations for hotel bookings, among other benefits.
10. Near universal acceptance
If you are travelling overseas, then having a credit card can be a safer way to travel and make purchases. Not all debit cards are universally accepted, whereas credit cards have near-universal acceptance around the world. It’s always a good idea to take some cash with you, and a backup card as well, just in case!
11. Build your credit score
Having a credit card can help you to build up your credit history and a credit rating – if you make sure you pay off the balance in full every month and keep your spending at a low level. A good credit score will make it much easier and less stressful to apply for various types of loans in the future, such as car loans and home loans, so practising good repayment habits with a credit card can be a good way to build a positive credit score.
Ensure that you use it wisely though, so that the value it adds to your credit rating is positive. If you miss a few minimum monthly repayments, this will be a serious black mark on your credit history.
12. Interest-free days
The final benefit you can get from using a credit card is the number of interest-free days on offer. The majority of credit cards offer 55 days interest-free.
To obtain the full amount of interest-free days, you need to pay off your balance for the current and previous month’s statement. You can learn more about how interest-free days work by reading the article below.
Interest-free days can also be very effective when combined with some of the other benefits in this list. For example, you can earn rewards points or get cash back on purchases made that won’t charge you any interest, giving you an even better return than usual.
If you have good self-discipline and don’t spend more than you earn, then a credit card can be a useful financial tool that you can use to your advantage. To find the right one for you, start by comparing your options on the Canstar website: