Everyone in the modern world is familiar with the concept of credit cards. However, there are quite a few stereotypes and prejudices swirling around it, preventing people from using its many benefits.
A credit card can enable you to pay for a wide variety of transactions, large and small when cash is not on hand. Reasons also include convenience, rewards and bonuses, and the ability to finance purchases over time and build a loan score.
Despite this, there are many nuances to be aware of using a credit card and avoid causing problems yourself. You need to understand the difference in the interest rates, when to pay credit card borrowings back, and the different reward conditions. Any common person might find it overwhelming and get in financial trouble.
This is what this article will help you sort through to make the experience of using credit cards in the U.S. as pleasant and profitable as possible.
Credit Card: What Is It?
A credit card means that you borrow money from a financial institution with the condition that you repay it within a certain period with contractual interest. The terms can vary, but the most popular condition is a grace period, which includes an obligation to repay the amount borrowed by a certain date or to incur an annual interest rate or APR (if you don’t pay off your statement debt before the grace period expires, you will be charged interest at that rate).
The credit limit on the card is determined by the bank depending on your income and credit history and can be as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to a standard card, a financial institution may also provide cardholders with a separate line of loan. It gives you access to cash advances that you can access through a cashier’s desk or ATM.
To use this option, though, you will need to sign an additional document, as the terms and conditions may vary. For instance, there is no grace period, and the interest rate is higher than the standard credit card. Despite this, the option is very convenient when you need to get cash urgently.
It is worth making all your payments on time to maximize the benefits and continue to get your credit limit every month. All transactions are often traceable in a mobile app, so you don’t have to worry about transparency.
Credit cards can also be used to pay for purchases and accumulate bonuses and rewards later, making them extremely popular among American residents. Statistics show that the number of credit cards in America has been increasing for the most part from 2012 to 2019.
In 2012, the number was 905.6 million, compared to 1,084.9 million at the end of 2019, which is accountable for nearly 20% of the growth. It’s also clear that credit cards are in greater demand than debit cards, at just 325.4 million.
Credit Rewards: Bonuses and Promotions
Bank credit cards operate in a way that allows customers to withdraw funds from them as normal, as well as gain additional discounts at certain enterprises on a variety of products and services, rewards and miles, as well as what is known as cashback, or a partial refund of credit resources.
Depending on the affiliate program type, discounts and incentives for credit cards come in a variety of forms. For instance, these might represent savings at retailers, cellular service providers, petrol stations, and on train and plane travel, among other things.
These preferences can be made up for by a higher interest rate or a shorter grace period. Discounts may be available only in certain stores, and to get the maximum number of bonus points, you will have to constantly pay with a credit card (don’t forget to top it up in time). In short, to find the best card program with discounts, you should carefully analyze its terms and conditions.
Often there is also a program for attracting new customers. The more of your friends, acquaintances, or relatives go to the bank on your recommendation, the more bonuses or guaranteed gifts from the bank you get. Keep in mind that the bonuses and funds from the bank are also income and are subject to income tax.
Credit Card Responsible Usage
It is quite easy to obtain a credit card, even if you have no credit history. In this case, you should not hope for a high loan amount. Banks give preference to verified borrowers with a positive credit history, showing their trust through a large credit limit.
However, you should not stress out. To apply for one, you need to gather a package of documents and follow a few steps:
- Check your credit rating. If you don’t have one, skip this step.
- Choose the right bank and familiarize yourself with credit card provisions and laws. To do this, be sure to read the full text and the fine print in the terms and conditions.
- Make sure you meet the formal conditions of the bank (age, employment, etc.).
- Submit your application and wait for processing.
Once the bank has made a positive decision and you have received a credit card, it is worth taking care to use it responsibly according to its intended purpose. This includes using it safely to prevent fraud and paying bills on time.
The transparency of your card account will provide you with information about all your purchases. This can be done through mobile banking and notifications, which will help you know exactly if your card has been misused.
Also, avoid shopping on suspicious sites or through advertisements that sound too appealing. Remember that you risk the bank’s money, which you will need to reimburse.
On the other hand, paying your bill on time is a pretty responsible thing to do. After all, to begin with, you need to resist the temptation to spend more than you have and get sucked into the credit hole. Experts recommend using no more than 15-30% of your credit limit per transaction so you don’t give in to excessive spending.
You should also make a list of your income and expenses for the month. Then, consider how much you can afford to use from your credit card so that you are comfortable paying it back on time.
Conclusion: Is It Worth It?
Having a credit card has several advantages. Fraud protection and the chance to accrue incentives and take advantage of exclusive membership privileges are included, and some cards even offer special financing programs so that you can pay for major purchases later.
It is not difficult to obtain and not difficult to use responsibly: just develop good financial habits and pay your bills in full on time. This way, you maximize the usefulness of the credit you receive in a grace period. Don’t forget that using your credit card correctly will help you establish a positive loan rating.