If used properly, credit cards are incredibly useful. I love my credit cards – they have provided me with many benefits and overtime I have learnt how to utilise credit cards to my benefit.
Read below to find out what credit cards are, how you can make credit cards work best for you & why I only use my credit cards (where possible).
What is a Credit Card?
Okay, lets start with laying out exactly what a Credit Card is:
It lets you access money (credit) from your card provider which you can spend on your purchase. You are expected to pay this money back, ideally in full at the end of each month.
Ultimately you are borrowing money in order to make your purchase – you are getting a mini loan.
What ‘scares’ people the most is that fact that they are borrowing money – however there is a simple way to ensure you will not have to pay more than what you have borrowed. Simply pay of the bill IN FULL each month. This will ensure that you won’t pay interest on what you’ve borrowed.
Something else to note, if you make cash withdrawals using your credit card, interest is commonly charged on a daily basis from the day you take out your cash.
How to utilise Credit Cards properly
- Have a direct debit setup to pay your credit card balance in full every month. Missing payments can impact your credit score. If you do not pay back the amount you have borrowed in full each month, you will be charged interest on top of the outstanding amount
- Ask for a low credit limit to ensure you are able to borrow and pay back a suitable amount
- Maximise benefits such as purchase protection that some credit cards offer
- Don’t be scared of credit cards! Not having enough of an understanding of how credit cards can be used often puts people off
- Make sure you read the terms and conditions of the credit card before you sign up to it, so you know exactly what you are signing up to.
How I use my Credit Cards to my benefit
I have had a credit card since I was 18 – the minimum age you are able to apply for a credit card. Ever since then I use my credit card where possible to make payment (some websites charge to use credit card, or not all shops/ attractions abroad accept credit cards etc) .
During this time, my monthly direct debit from my current account ensures that my card payment is never missed and that the full amount is taken out.
- Low credit card utilisation. Credit utilisation is the amount of your available credit limit you use. I usually keep my credit utilisation circa 20-30%. A recent email from Clear Score stated that – “We can see that your credit card utilisation is below 30% which is ideal. Keeping your balances low can help improve your credit score and help you qualify for better offers“.
- My Halifax Clarity Card does not charge for using it abroad (as long as you make your payment in full)- which means I do not have to take out foreign currency or carry any cash around whilst abroad. However, you do get charged a small amount for cash withdrawals.
- If you are interested in applying for a credit card, I would personally recommend looking into American Express:
- It has provided me with many benefits such as Avios points or Nectar card points. They offer a range of credit cards which are free to use and depending on what card you decide to go with, you will receive cashback, Avios or Nectar points when you spend. Moreover their customer service is top-notch, when many of my trips were cancelled in March 2020 they were incredibly proactive and quick in providing refunds unlike my debit card provider.
- If you are aware of the benefits and drawbacks related to credit cards and interested in opening an American Express card check out my links here for two cards and the benefits related to the sign up links:
- Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card. If you use this link you will receive £20 cashback for just spending £1 on your card
- Amex Membership Rewards Card. If you use the link you’ll receive 6,000 points when you spend £2000 in the first 3 months of membership