Credit cards are convenient and secure. They build credit, offer rewards and make budgeting easier. If you can use your credit card responsibly without going into debt, you can avoid interest while benefiting from the convenience and rewards that make credit cards so practical. Did you know that with current fraud protections, credit cards are actually safer to carry than cash? Using a credit card for everything can actually be a smart financial strategy.
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Benefits of using a credit card for everything
The benefits of credit cards are major. You can earn free flights, cash back, improve your credit score and monitor your spending. Using a credit card for everything can be a way to earn rewards from everyday purchases. Using a credit card for everything also makes it easier to keep track of your budget. Here’s the details:
Credit card rewards
Credit card rewards are significant. Credit cards offer signup bonuses that can include $500 cash back after meeting a minimum spend, or 60,000 airline miles, which is enough to book a roundtrip ticket to Europe. Pay for everything with credit cards and you could eventually earn rewards for a free vacation or extra cash when you need it.
In addition, some popular credit cards offer high rewards in certain categories, like 6% back on groceries, 5% back on groceries and restaurants or 5% back on travel. Even basic cash back rewards cards offer 1% on all purchases and 2% on certain purchases.
Rewards work as long as you don’t overspend to get the rewards. If you spend $300 per month on groceries, with 6% cash back you could get $18 back per month or $216 per year in normal expenses alone.
Credit cards are convenient. Making purchases on credit makes it easier to track your spending. These days, you don’t even need to insert a credit card into the machine, wireless card terminals let you put the card near the machine without touching it, pay and go. Unlike cash, if they are lost or stolen, you can cancel or replace them without risk.
Credit cards offer exceptional consumer protection. If a charge is unauthorized, the credit card company will advocate on your behalf or immediately refund the charge. Credit cards also include purchase protection for a specific amount of time.
With this coverage, consumers can be reimbursed for an item or receive a replacement if their purchase is damaged or stolen, usually within 90 to 120 days after making purchases on credit.
Easy to monitor spending
Pay for everything with credit cards so you know exactly where your money is going. With a credit card, any charges you make will show up on a report the same day. Credit cards typically generate spending reports by category. Monthly credit card reports also help you to see total monthly expenses. This gives consumers a clear and comprehensive vision of charges and expenses to build a budget and control expenses.
Credit cards report to the major credit bureaus. If you pay credit cards on time and keep balances low, it can increase your credit scores across credit bureaus. The key to building credit while using credit cards is to pay the card on time, pay off debt and keep accounts open, as a long credit history also helps increase credit score. Making purchases on credit and paying the bills on time each month helps to build a good credit score.
Should I use a credit card for everyday purchases?
It’s very common and can be beneficial to use a credit card for everyday purchases like groceries, gas, restaurants, travel and other opportunities. For people who want to keep track of expenses, it can be useful to put all charges on one credit card. For people who are focused on credit card awards, it’s common to use multiple cards depending on the reward categories offered and use a credit card for everything.
What should I buy with my credit card?
Any of your everyday purchases can be put on a credit card. Think of groceries, clothing, school supplies, gas and other regular charges. You can usually set up automatic payments of utilities bills with your credit cards to add an extra layer of convenience.
Keep in mind that you never want to buy things you don’t need or can’t afford. The credit card’s limit is not your spending limit, unless you can afford to pay off that amount in full when you receive the bill. Using a credit card for everything is only beneficial as long as you’re responsible with spending.
How often should I use my credit card?
You can use your credit card whenever you make regular purchases, whether daily, weekly, or biweekly.
How to use your credit card responsibly
Using credit cards responsibly is essential for all the benefits. Keep it in check to protect your financial health and credit score. Here is the checklist.
Pay your bill in full each month
If you don’t pay the bill in full each month, you will be charged interest on the remainder. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on credit cards ranges from 0% introductory rates to 49% or more. That means you could pay nearly 50% of the price of the purchase over the course of the year if you don’t pay the bill in full each month.
If you need extra cash, a personal or business loan are almost always better solutions than putting extra on a credit card that you cannot pay off.
Just because you can afford to pay the credit card bill doesn’t mean the total is what you want to see. For some people, it is too easy to scan the card or input the number and worry about it later. The problem with that is you can eat into savings or other financial goals down the road. Set a budget that meets your financial goals and check in with that before making extra credit card charges.
Keep your credit utilization rate low
Credit utilization is the percentage of the total available credit you’re using. If you have one credit card with a $10,000 limit, charges equal to $2,500 would be a 25% credit utilization rate. Generally, if you pay off the card each month, it does not count towards your credit utilization rate.
Keep in mind that the credit bureaus use a total of all credit cards to calculate credit utilization. That means that if you have four credit cards with a limit of $5000 each, your total credit limit is $20,000. The same $2,500 in monthly charges would then have a credit utilization rate of just 12.5%. If credit cards don’t charge monthly fees, it can be worth keeping the account open to reduce overall credit utilization, even if you never use it.
Putting it all together
Credit cards can be a convenient, secure and reliable way to pay for everyday purchases. With awards programs, they can also be a way to earn free hotel nights, flights, cash back and other rewards on purchases you’d make anyway, like food and gas.
To protect your credit score and financial health, be sure not to overspend and remember to pay off credit cards on time every month. Using a credit card for everything can help you plan a budget and control expenses.
Can you use a credit card like a debit card?
Yes, you can use a credit card like a debit card. Many credit cards allow you to take cash advances, but keep in mind that these often come with a higher fee and high interest. You can use a credit card even if your bank account is empty, but you can only use debit cards if you have a balance in your account.
How much should you spend on a credit card?
The amount that you can afford to put on a credit card will depend on your credit limit. Try to keep your credit utilization, or the percentage of available credit you are using at any given time, below 30% to prevent yourself from hurting your credit score. Pay for everything with a credit card only if your monthly expenses are lower than your credit limit.
Do you have to use a credit card every month?
No, you don’t have to use a credit card every month. You can choose to use a credit card monthly or not at all, and the account will stay open. Some credit cards charge annual fees. It can be worth canceling any credit cards you’re not using that charge annual fees.