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10 bank card advantages (and 4 disadvantages)


Why use bank cards? Different cost choices, like debit playing cards and money, might look like a neater technique to keep inside finances. In any case, bank cards have a fame for encouraging you to spend cash you don’t have — particularly when engaging presents come within the mail.

However right here at Cash Below 30, we predict a very good bank card is a must have. When used responsibly, bank cards could be nice to your monetary well-being. In truth, good bank card holders can earn cash simply through the use of their card.

So, what are the advantages of bank cards over money, and the way can utilizing one assist you to come out forward?

1. They construct credit score historical past

Maybe crucial motive to have a bank card is to construct credit score historical past.

You will get a bank card it doesn’t matter what your present credit score rating after which use it to construct credit score. Even when your credit score rating is low you possibly can all the time begin with a secured card. This makes bank cards a terrific place for anybody to start out constructing credit score.

A superb credit score rating is crucial in case you plan to borrow cash. These scores come partially out of your bank card utilization. Utilizing bank cards responsibly may help in constructing credit score.

If you pay no less than your minimal cost by the due date the financial institution reviews that to your credit score file. If you wish to borrow cash sooner or later, collectors can see that you’ve got a historical past of paying your money owed on time. And the longer you utilize bank cards, the extra you’ll construct your credit score historical past, enhancing your rating much more.

Learn extra: How credit score works

2. They provide rewards applications

One of many greatest bank card advantages are the rewards you possibly can earn. There are virtually as many rewards applications as there are bank cards. The trick is to discover a rewards program that matches with spending habits you have already got. This lets you earn rewards in your on a regular basis purchases with out having to alter your spending habits.

You’ll additionally wish to discover a rewards program that offers you rewards you’ll truly use. Whereas everybody can profit from a money again bank card, chances are you’ll get extra worth from a journey rewards bank card. Nonetheless, a journey rewards bank card just isn’t a lot use in case you don’t journey very a lot.

Rewards applications can embrace, however aren’t restricted to:

Money again playing cards: These bank cards provide you with money again in your on a regular basis purchases. Usually they’ve bonus rewards for sure sorts of transactions, reminiscent of additional money again on gasoline or groceries. You’ll be able to usually redeem your rewards for assertion credit or a test.

Learn extra: Greatest money again bank cards

Factors and miles journey rewards playing cards: These bank cards allow you to earn factors and miles in your on a regular basis purchases. Like money again playing cards, you possibly can earn bonus rewards in sure classes. You’ll be able to redeem your rewards totally free or discounted journey. One standard program is the Chase Final Rewards program.

Resort or airline particular playing cards: These bank cards let you rack up rewards at particular inns or airways. Whereas these bank cards can get you large reductions on journey, they aren’t as versatile as basic journey rewards bank cards.

Many rewards bank cards have annual charges. Guarantee that the rewards outweigh the annual price earlier than you join.

Learn extra: Greatest rewards bank cards

3. They might include welcome bonuses

Many playing cards supply welcome bonuses for signing up. These may embrace perks like bonus miles/factors which you could redeem for air journey or lodge stays, or bonus money again that you need to use as an announcement credit score.

Often, you must spend a specific amount on the cardboard inside a sure time interval to get the one time bonus, so learn the advantageous print. But it surely’s nonetheless a useful perk.

Learn extra: Greatest bank card sign-up presents

4. They shield towards fraud

One of many greatest bank card advantages over debit playing cards is the extent of fraud safety they provide.

Say your bank card is stolen or somebody finds your card data on-line. If the thief begins making purchases, they aren’t spending your precise cash. In contrast to when somebody steals your debit card.

When you notify the cardboard firm of the theft, they’ll put a maintain in your card and examine. You aren’t responsible for any fraudulent purchases made within the meantime. Federal regulation protections for bank card holders hold you from dropping money. Legally, essentially the most you’ll doubtlessly be responsible for is $50, however I’ve by no means heard of a financial institution truly holding to that. Most, if not all, bank card issuers have a zero-liability fraud coverage, you gained’t lose something.

Now say your debit card is stolen. Since debit card funds are immediately deducted out of your checking account, any cash spent on unauthorized costs will probably be gone. Computerized funds you’ve scheduled would possibly overdraft because of this. In case you report the theft inside 60 days, the transactions could be reversed and the cash restored. However this takes time and could be way more disruptive than a bank card theft.

Learn extra: The 5 greatest debit card risks

5. Steadiness transfers allow you to transfer your debt to a decrease price

Usually time, bank card welcome bonuses embrace a time frame with 0%, which usually contains steadiness transfers.

Steadiness transfers let you transfer your debt from one bank card to a different. Different money owed, like automobile loans and month-to-month installment funds, will also be moved to a steadiness switch bank card. Consider there’s typically a steadiness switch price if you do that – 5% is a typical price for steadiness transfers.

Now, this doesn’t imply you wipe out the debt. You’ll nonetheless should pay what you owe, in fact. Nonetheless, the 0% APR for the primary 12 months will make it simpler to repay what you owe since all the cash you’re placing in the direction of it goes towards the debt, which is able to get monetary savings on curiosity costs.

How a lot you possibly can switch to your new bank card will rely in your credit score line. And in case you hold including extra costs to the cardboard, you then’re going to battle to repay the debt, even with 0% curiosity.

However in case you do them responsibly, steadiness transfers can consolidate your debt, decrease your curiosity funds, and make your life simpler.

Learn extra: Greatest steadiness switch bank cards

6. They might include buy safety

Client safety is a big perk of many bank cards. In case you purchase an merchandise with a bank card and later discover out it’s broken or the standard is poor, you possibly can return the merchandise and an announcement credit score for the quantity of the acquisition value. It might additionally cowl you if the merchandise is misplaced or stolen.

Bank cards might also supply prolonged warranties on electronics, furnishings, and different gadgets you hope to make use of for a very long time. In lots of instances the cardboard doubles the time on the producer’s guarantee. Be certain to maintain your receipts!

Learn extra: Greatest bank cards with prolonged guarantee safety

7. They’ve built-in grace durations

Primarily, bank cards supply a zero-interest mortgage for 30 days or much less. In contrast to debit playing cards, bank cards don’t require you to afford a purchase order instantly. There’s a grace interval so that you can make cost preparations.

This grace interval is the time between the top of a billing cycle and the day your cost is due (30 days). Throughout this era, you’ll not obtain curiosity costs to your steadiness. However you could pay the steadiness in full by the due date. In case you don’t, then all of the accrued curiosity will apply to your account.

Use this grace interval correctly. Even in case you pay the invoice on time, however not in full, or in case you pay it off in full, however behind schedule, then the interest-free grace interval is over.

Learn extra: How grace durations work (and the best way to make them give you the results you want)

8. They observe your spending for you

Wish to finances higher? Bank card statements are a built-in expense tracker. Your purchases get recorded on-line with all of the important data — the place, when, how a lot, and the way typically you’re spending. Some bank card corporations hold your spending information round for years.

This profit turns into particularly helpful come tax time. With one report of the previous 12 months’s spending already compiled, you’ll save effort and time in your taxes. Enterprise bills, rental property bills, charity contributions, and extra tough tax return areas all present up on a bank card invoice.

Learn extra: Easy methods to finances utilizing bank cards

9. They tack on insurance coverage

Take a look at the buyer protections provided along with your bank card. Likelihood is you’ll discover bank card advantages you didn’t even know you had.

Along with prolonged warranties and buy safety, many playing cards supply return safety, rental automobile insurance coverage, and journey insurance coverage.

Journey reward bank cards are identified for offering some fairly candy journey insurance coverage perks. For instance, a number of Chase bank cards supply major rental automobile insurance coverage. Which means which you could decline the rental automobile insurance coverage on the counter and use the insurance coverage offered by your bank card as a substitute – with out having to contain your private automobile insurance coverage firm if that you must make a declare.

Many bank cards additionally supply journey cancelation or interruption insurance coverage. Which means if you must lower your journey quick, or cancel it fully, you’ll get reimbursed to your prices. After all, the journey must be canceled or interrupted resulting from lined occasions, reminiscent of sickness or harm.

Learn extra: Is it price it to get a bank card only for the insurance coverage advantages?

10. They’re universally accepted

Talking of journey, your bank card is your greatest pal if you’re touring. Lodging and rental vehicles are a lot simpler to ebook with credit score than debit. Rental providers usually place a maintain of some hundred {dollars} in your card. This maintain could be inconvenient with a debit card.

Bank cards are additionally extra readily accepted than debit playing cards worldwide. In case you’re touring to a international nation, plan to make use of the decrease change charges in your bank card as a substitute of paying excessive change charges for money at airports. Needless to say many bank cards cost international transaction charges – nonetheless not all do, so test earlier than journey.

Learn extra: Greatest bank cards for worldwide journey

Disadvantages of utilizing a bank card

Whereas bank cards include a variety of comfort and suppleness, there are some cons of bank cards that you just want to pay attention to as nicely, significantly in case you’ve had a rocky cost historical past previously.

Excessive rates of interest

It’s not unusual for bank cards to come back with an rate of interest of 20% and even greater. That’s a lot greater than different types of debt, like mortgages or automobile loans. It might rapidly add up and lead you into debt in case you don’t repay your steadiness every month.

If you carry a steadiness from one month to the subsequent, you accrue curiosity costs on the unpaid steadiness. This results in an accumulation of debt over time and makes it difficult so that you can pay it off.

Potential for overspending

For some individuals, utilizing a bank card doesn’t really feel like “actual” cash. So it’s simpler to lose observe of your spending in case you’re undisciplined, which may result in a shock steadiness on the finish of the month.

Overspending is a typical drawback of utilizing a bank card. You aren’t restricted by the amount of cash you could have accessible in your checking account, solely by your credit score restrict. This will result in the temptation to overspend and accumulate debt that could be exhausting to repay sooner or later.

Bank card issuers typically present incentives, like money again rewards or factors, to encourage customers to spend extra with their bank cards. These bank card rewards could be engaging and would possibly result in impulsive purchases that aren’t crucial or inside your finances.

Annual charges

Some bank cards cost an annual price, which could be as a lot as a number of hundred {dollars} per 12 months. These charges can add up rapidly, particularly in case you’ve received a number of bank cards.

If the annual charges don’t outweigh the bank card advantages you then’ll wish to begin searching for one other bank card. In case you don’t journey very a lot then journey rewards could be tough to redeem. Journey rewards bank cards additionally are likely to have the best annual charges.

If you end up on this scenario then search for a rewards card with extra easy rewards.

Learn extra: Is an annual price bank card ever price it?

Incentives and rewards can have circumstances

Bank card issuers supply incentives and rewards to entice individuals to use. However typically there are caveats that make it tough to take full benefit of the rewards.

For instance, a bank card might promote as much as 5% money again, however in case you learn the advantageous print it’s solely on sure rewards classes or as much as sure spending limits.

One other widespread situation is to have rotating rewards classes. Every quarter the classes you possibly can earn rewards in adjustments and that you must register every quarter to qualify for the additional money again or bonus factors. It’s simple to neglect to register or the bonus classes aren’t all the time going to suit into your spending habits.

Irresponsible use can injury your credit score rating

Irresponsible use of a bank card can injury your credit score rating. Late funds, excessive balances, and maxing out playing cards are all reported in your credit score file and may all negatively influence your credit score report. This will have long-term penalties.

A low credit score rating could make it exhausting to get credit score sooner or later, particularly for big gadgets like shopping for a home or a brand new automobile.

Easy methods to discover the most effective bank card for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all resolution in terms of bank cards. Discovering the cardboard that’s best for you will depend upon numerous components reminiscent of your credit score historical past, if you’d like journey perks or money again, in case you are trying to consolidate your debt with steadiness transfers, or quite a lot of different components.

For instance, you would possibly prioritize a card that has no annual price. Otherwise you could be after a card with a very good welcome bonus.

It’s a good suggestion to fastidiously study how, and the way a lot, you spend to determine the rewards card that makes essentially the most sense for you.

MoneyUnder30’s bank card comparability device may help you rapidly slender down the playing cards that meet your standards. Test it out right this moment! Then you possibly can learn our evaluations to see the professionals and cons of every card and make an knowledgeable resolution.


Bank card advantages embrace rewards, safety, and comfort, in addition to common reporting to the credit score bureaus, which builds your credit score.

The secret’s to be good along with your card and pay it off every month. Doing that may truly get monetary savings and hold you shielded from unauthorized purchases. And, relying on which card you select, you’ll have some good perks thrown in as nicely. Simply watch these annual charges.

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