Get a Credit Card

What is a credit card?

A credit card is something that banks give you so that you can borrow their money to pay for things. Naturally, you are expected to pay back this money at the end of every month or you are charged interest on the money you borrowed.

Debit cards are not like credit cards even though they are generally accepted where credit cards are accepted. With a debit card, money is taken straight out of your bank account so you are never borrowing money. As a result, you can never incur interest with a debit card.

When should I not get a credit card?

First off, you should not be spending money with a credit card that you cannot pay off every month. We would not recommend a credit card if you have trouble controlling your spending. If you cannot pay off your credit card balance in full every month we would recommend getting a traditional loan instead because they typically have much lower interest rates.

Why should I get a credit card?

Getting a credit card may seem like a bad idea because of their high interest rates but if used properly, they come with many benefits.

Having a credit card and using it with discipline will build your credit profile and improve your credit score. This is important because your credit score is used to determine your eligibility for a lot of financial options such as loans, apartment rentals and and car insurance. With a good credit score you can generally get access to better credit cards and better rates on loans and mortgages.

Many credit cards offer rewards when you spend using your card. For example, some cards offer 1% cash back on all of your purchases and others offer points/miles that can be redeemed for air travel tickets. In addition, many credit cards offer signup bonuses such as $100 for spending $1000 in your first 3 months.

Lastly, credit cards offer additional protection that you will not get with a debit card. If fraudulent charges are made to your debit card, money is deducted right away because it's taken directly from your bank account. You can report the fraudulent charges to your bank but while they are investigating, you have no access to that money. With a credit card, you are rarely held liable for fraud. Fraudulent charges are usually flagged automatically by your credit card company and even those that make it through are quickly reversed so that your bank account never actually takes a hit.

Credit cards also offer other protection policies such as extended warranty on purchases, lost luggage reimbursement and emergency travel assistance.

How should I use my credit card?

  • You should definitely pay off your credit card balance in full every month to avoid paying any interest. Credit cards have really high interest rates so paying off your credit card balance should be a top priority. Spending below your means and setting up automatic monthly payments will help you accomplish this.
  • You also want to keep your balance below 30% of your credit card limit or your credit score may fall.
  • You shouldn't apply to too many credit cards within a small timeframe because each one will cause a hard inquiry into your credit and can lower your credit score.
  • Find credit card(s) that fit your spending patterns and cards that offer benefits you care about. Check out our recommendations for best credit cards
  • Also read our section about credit scores to see other factors that can raise or lower your credit score.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card is a credit card that people with no credit or low credit can use to improve their credit score. In order to get a secured credit card you must deposit money first which is why it's called a secured credit card. For example, if you deposit $500 you will get a $500 monthly credit limit on your secured credit card. The actual deposit required and your allowed credit limit will depend on the secured credit card you apply for.

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