The Pros and Cons of Credit Cards
According to Statista, credit cards are the highest utilized method of payment in the United States. In 2020 alone, they accounted for 38% of all POS payments.
With financial institutions presenting newer credit card options to the financially independent, borrowing funds to purchase that shiny jewelry you have been eyeing for a while or supplementing your income in between paydays is done in one swipe.
The truth is, a credit card can be a tool that propels you to financial freedom. But, unfortunately, it can also be the source of your downfall.
According to research, the average American had a credit card debt of $5,313 in 2020. These high amounts result from misuse, with culprits incurring exorbitant interest on the money borrowed, facing lawsuits, and having their obligations sold to a collection agency.
So, is it good to have a credit card?
To help you make an informed decision, here are factors you need to consider.
Let’s delve into specifics.
Credit Card Advantages and Disadvantages
Here are the pros of credit cards.
- Creates an opportunity to build a good credit record
A credit score is a vital aspect that significantly determines your quality of life. For instance, it affects how much money lenders will be willing to give you, your housing options, and how potential employers perceive you.
Having a credit card is an opportunity to build a good record. Early and on-time payments are a surefire way to get a high credit score, help you qualify for other loans, and be eligible for lower interest rates.
You also get high-value services like better car insurance rates and the purchase of a cellphone without the need for any upfront fee.
- Your money is more secure
If you are on a quest for better money management, you probably know that the cash envelope system is an excellent tactic for financial planning. However, choosing cash transactions does not offer you the same level of security credit cards do.
As much as you will not move around with a sign stating ‘Hey, I have loads of cash,’ pulling out a couple of 100-dollar bills makes you a target of thieves.
However, one of the benefits of using a credit card is it offers unmatched security for your money. If you misplace it or suspect that unauthorized persons have access to your sensitive info, you can easily alert your credit company, which will immediately cut off the card. As such, no one will be able to transact using it until a time when they sort out the issue.
Furthermore, to offer optimal security, the issuer continuously monitors your credit card, pointing out any potential red flags and taking the necessary actions immediately.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Understanding your expenses is a significant first step to taking control of your financial situation — and credit cards can help.
Your issuer is keen to document every transaction, sending you monthly reports. This gives you visibility into your spending habits, allowing you to make informed financial decisions. It also makes budgeting more straightforward.
Besides, some credit companies send annual reports, which come in handy when filing tax returns.
- Rewards Program
There is a myriad of credit card companies striving to establish their authority and they are doing so through rewarding their customers.
One of the notable advantages of using a credit card is it positions you for various reward programs.
Unlike debit, credit cardholders can receive cashback and earn redeemable points for using their card. To attract more applications, credit card institutions will give lucrative welcome bonuses for sign-ups when you reach the target spending requirements within the stipulated time — a perk not common with many financiers and one of the disadvantages of debit cards.
Now, with everything, there is always the flip side. Let’s learn more about the disadvantages of credit cards.
- You can quickly get into debt
All of a sudden, you have access to money you can easily spend. Even without enough funds, you can pay for a fine dining experience and make financial injections into your small business.
Bad credit card spending habits will get you into debt. Especially if you cannot fulfill your monthly payment obligations, you’ll accumulate debt which affects your credit health and quality of life.
For this reason, monitoring your card payments is vital. First, scrutinize how you spend every dollar, then create a budget and stick to it.
Also, make a habit of swiping your card only for needs and not wants — unless you can afford such luxuries.
- Interest charges
Purchasing goods above their financial capabilities is a common problem with many cardholders. Sadly, if you make a purchase and cannot honor payments in due time, interest increases.
One of the disadvantages of using a credit card is that credit card institutions charge high-interest rates as compared to other lending institutions. In the event that you carry forward part of the entire payment, they charge interests on that balance. In the long run, you may only realize that you paid close to double or even thrice the amount of money you borrowed.
As such, it is recommended to use this payment option to access short-term credit. Otherwise, your debt might spiral out of control.
Note that apart from the high-interest rates, you will incur additional charges for late payments as well as local and international transfers. Fees are also applicable for cash advances and more.
To avoid such predicaments, the importance of paying on or before the due date cannot be over-emphasized. Also, if you cannot honor the entire payment, at least make the minimum payment to keep your credit score healthy.
- Hard-to-understand fine print
To clearly understand what you are getting into, you need to read your card’s fine print.
The fine print contains crucial information on the interests rates, disclosure, and conditions of usage. Unfortunately, apart from information in the Schumer box, other terminologies may be hard to decipher.
The best course of action is to seek unbiased expert help. Find someone or a company with in-depth knowledge on credit cards and let them take you through the fine print, explaining one industry jargon after the other.
At one point or the other, we all need to borrow money if we are to make huge investments, improve our ROI, or make purchases. A credit card is one such tool that can help you gain access to fund quickly.
Used well, credit cards can elevate you from point A to point B in your journey towards financial freedom. However, when misused, they can get you deep in debt, wreaking havoc on your financial well-being and demeaning your quality of life.
So, before visiting any credit card issuer, take time to consider their perks and drawbacks. Then, if you decide to get one, make sure you find one best suited for you.