Should I Get a Credit Card [Why and When to Have One]

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Credit cards are a part of our everyday lives. But if, by chance, you’re one of those who don’t have one, it’s understandable to wonder, ‘should I get a credit card?’ This article addresses the benefits of having a credit card and if it’s the right choice for your financial situation.

Why Should I Get a Credit Card?

There are many reasons why getting a credit card is a good idea. But before beginning the process of getting one, consider six benefits it can provide.

Rewards

Many credit card providers offer bonuses on new credit cards. Even though most of them require you to spend a certain amount from the card balance, you’ll receive a bonus on the money spent. Cash-back credit cards offer a percentage reward on the purchase total (1 – 6%). These cash-back benefits accumulate over time.

Credit History

One of the advantages of a credit card is that it can help you improve your credit score, which can later help in your search for a job or apartment. Even though a credit card can improve your credit score, it can also damage it if you’re not careful. Ensure that all your monthly payments are made on time and never use up all available credit. If you want to have a stellar credit score, make your payments on time and don’t max out your card.

Large Purchases

If you have big expenses coming up—such as a car purchase, wedding, or an expensive trip—you can use your credit card to spread out the costs. If you pay off the full amount at the introductory rate, there will be no interest accrued, and you’ll be able to buy on credit with no interest rate.

Another benefit of using a credit card for larger purchases is the protection it provides. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act offers a money-back guarantee if something is wrong with your purchased items/services. With these kinds of purchases, you need to be careful to pay off the outstanding balance within the assigned period. Ensure to make a regular minimum payment to the card, so you won’t have to pay a high Annual Percentage Rate (APR).

Traveling Abroad

If you’re planning a trip, you’re probably thinking, ‘do I need a credit card for traveling?’ Using your existing credit or debit card when abroad can cost you a significant sum of money. Some providers charge 3% on all foreign transactions. For this purpose, there are travel credit cards that don’t charge a fee when using them abroad and offer better exchange rates. But these cards often come with a high-interest rate. So it’s essential to pay the total amount off each month. If you’re traveling abroad, you should also obtain travel insurance to protect you from any calamities.

Quick Cash

Unexpected expenses often pop up, catching you unprepared. In such cases, money transfer credit cards can help you get the cash you need. With these kinds of cards, you can transfer money from the credit card to your bank account without paying a transfer fee—but only during the interest-free period. After this period expires, the transfer fees might become relatively high, so you need to look out for any fees when making the transfer.

Fraud Protection

Should I apply for a credit card to protect myself from fraud? Credit cards provide a higher level of protection against fraud compared to debit cards. If your credit card gets stolen, you won’t lose a large sum of money because the charges on credit cards are not immediately withdrawn from your account. Using a credit card for online payments is also advisable. If your information falls into the wrong hands, the card where you receive your income is safe from misuse.

NOTE: Going off to a university is an excellent reason to get a credit card. There are credit cards designed specifically for this purpose. If you’re just beginning your studies, you can consider getting one of the greatest credit cards for students.  

When Should I Get a Credit Card?

There is no specific rule as to when you should apply for a credit card, but there are certain situations when getting a credit card might be beneficial.

18 Years of Age

When can you get a credit card? The primary requirement for obtaining a credit card in the US is for you to be 18 years old. If you get approved for a card, you need to maintain a steady source of income and be responsible for your credit utilization, which can help you start building a good credit history.

Good Credit Score

If your credit score is 670 or above, you can qualify for a credit card. If your score is in good standing, the credit card can help you boost your score even more.

Build Credit History

If you don’t have an existing credit history or have a weak one, you probably want to remedy this. One of the credit card advantages is that it improves your credit scores. Proving that you’re responsible by making payments on time, you can become eligible for other types of credit.

Large Purchases

Making more substantial purchases—such as buying furniture or appliances for your home—can be costly. By making these purchases via a credit card, you’re granted a more extended period to pay for these expenses.

Pay Off Debt

Outstanding debts can weigh on your finances. Balance transfer cards can help you pay off debt—some of which have interest-free periods of up to 21 months, which is a perfect time frame to pay off at least a portion of your debt.

NOTE: The best time to get a credit card is before you need it. So don’t wait to be strapped for cash to apply for one. Instead, check out the recommended credit cards for young adults and start building your score while you’re still young. 

Key Takeaways

Credit cards are one of the most common forms of payment.
A credit card offers numerous benefits: rewards, delayed payment, fraud protection, and credit improvement.
You need to be 18 years old to get a credit card. And you should only do so if you’re responsible with your money.
The main disadvantage of credit cards is the accumulation of debt, which happens if the card is not used responsibly.
There’s no limit on the number of cards a person can have; you can get a second credit card if you need one.

First Credit Card Pros and Cons

Obtaining a credit card has both positive and negative implications. Before applying for a card, consider all the pros and cons of a credit card.

Pros

  • Ease of use: Credit cards are easy to use and widely accepted as a form of payment. They are also more convenient to carry around than cash.
  • Safety: Using a credit card is safer than using cash to make payments. If your card is stolen, you can immediately call the bank and report the theft, ensuring that no one else can use it.
  • Delayed payments: If you don’t have the cash for a necessary purchase, a credit card can provide you the means to afford it. You should only resort to this if you know that you can pay back the amount you spent.
  • Protection: All purchases above a certain sum are protected under Section 75, meaning that you’ll get back the money you paid.
  • Rewards: If you’re still wondering, ‘what should I use my credit card for,’ the rewards should be incentive enough. You can get cash-back, earn miles, reward points, and many other benefits.

Cons

  • High interest rates: Credit card rates are significantly higher than those of other kinds of personal loans, which is why it’s essential to make regular payments and clear your balance each month.
  • Debt accumulation: Even if you miss only one of your monthly payments, the amount of debt will start to accumulate. And if you continue to spend money from the balance, the interest rates will increase as well.
  • Additional expenses: Besides the interest rate, you could be responsible for paying additional fees or penalties for missing a payment or exceeding your limit. There are additional fees for withdrawing cash from ATMs, and some providers charge additional monthly or annual fees.

Is It Bad to Not Use a Credit Card?

Before applying for a credit card, you should determine if you need one because getting one without using it might be worse than not having one at all. Excessive use of credit cards is inadvisable, but unused credit cards can also be harmful to your finances.

What Happens if You Don’t Use Your Credit Card?

If you don’t use your card, the card provider might decide to close your account. And providers aren’t obliged to notify you before taking this course of action. Another danger of not using your card concerns fraud.

Most users stop checking an inactive card—and all statements related to it—when they’re not using it. This is a big mistake. If you’re not checking the card statements regularly, you’ll fail to notice any suspicious,  fraudulent activity, which can affect your finances and overall credit. If you don’t plan on using your card for longer than a month, it would be best to close the account.

You might also be wondering, ‘should I get a credit card that I only use occasionally?’ If you’re determined to have a credit card, it’s best to regularly check the statements and occasionally use the card for small purchases. Additionally, some experts recommend using the card for recurring charges each month—for example, pay one of your bills with a credit card.

NOTE: Credit card debt in the US is the second largest, trailing behind student-loan debt. To ensure that you don’t get stuck in credit card debt, learn how to use a credit card responsibly

Should I Get a Second Credit Card?

The US doesn’t impose a limit on how many credit cards an individual can hold. Instead, the credit card provider determines whether or not you’re issued a card based on your credit score.  Obtaining a second credit card depends on your specific financial requirements.

When Should You Get a Second Credit Card?

Here are some of the situations in which having a second credit card is good:

  • Improved credit: If your credit report shows improvement, an excellent way to boost it is via a second credit card.
  • Spending habits: Some credit cards offer many rewards on dining out. But if you control your spending in restaurants and don’t have many expenses of this kind, a second card could be a welcome addition.
  • More benefits and rewards: By obtaining an additional card, you become eligible to earn rewards, receive more cash-back, and other similar benefits.

If you’re a first-time credit card user, you should wait at least one year before applying for a second one since it might be challenging to get approval for a second card within the same year. And if your credit scores are poor, you should hold off applying for a second one because it might worsen your already bad credit.

Obtaining a Second Credit Card: Pros and Cons

Before reaching a final decision about obtaining a second credit card, you should first consider the pros and cons of getting one.

Pros

  • Helps build a better score: Each credit card that you make regular payments to improves your credit score.
  • Increase credit limit: Each card has a predetermined credit limit. The more cards you have, the more considerable sum of money at your disposal.
  • More cash-back benefits: Each credit card comes with certain benefits, and many providers offer cash-back as a reward.

Cons

  • Difficult to manage: There are advantages and disadvantages of  a credit card. One of the disadvantages is that two cards are more challenging to manage than one because you need to keep track of the billing cycle and credit limits and make on-time payments.
  • Can cause debt: A second card might cause you to relax with your finances and start spending recklessly. If you’re not careful, this can lead to the accumulation of credit card debt.

NOTE: A credit card has no actual expiration date. The date on your card serves only as a reminder for the card issuer to send you a new card. You can continue making payments with your card even if it’s expired. 

Conclusion

Having at least one credit card can be very beneficial by helping you maintain good credit scores, earn rewards and money through a cash-back arrangement and provide a sense of security when unexpected expenses crop up. If you still don’t own a credit card, you should consider the advantages of a credit card and start thinking about getting one.

FAQ

Can you get a credit card without a job?

Even if you’re unemployed, it’s not impossible to get a credit card. Credit card providers are interested in your income, which doesn’t need to be a salary. So if you have a steady income, you can be eligible for a credit card.

Should I get a credit card at 18?

There are both credit card advantages and disadvantages, but if you’re responsible with your finances, getting a credit card at 18 years of age can be an excellent strategy—you could start building good credit scores while you’re still young.

Should I get a credit card through my bank?

Applying for a credit card through your bank is advisable if you have a good credit history with that bank. You then could get approved quicker than if applying via credit bureaus.

Is it worth getting a credit card?

Credit cards provide many advantages. Opening an account to receive a card is a good idea if you handle money responsibly.

Is it bad to get a credit card?

Should I get a credit card because it might be bad for me? You should only get one if you’re confident you can handle the additional money without accruing debt.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I learned a lot about finance after working for a digital marketing company specializing in investing and trading stocks, forex, etc. After that, I got exposed to other verticals such as wealth management and personal finance, which further improved my understanding of the financial world.

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