The main difference between a credit card and a charge card is that charge cards don’t allow you to carry a balance from one month to the next, while credit cards do. Both types of cards allow you to buy now and pay later, but charge cards require that payment to be for the full amount you owe at the end of the billing cycle. Traditional credit cards require you to pay just a portion of your balance by the due date each month to keep your account in good standing.
It’s important to note that a charge card actually is a type of credit card – just a unique one. Charge cards and other credit cards are different in more ways, too.
Credit Cards vs Charge Cards: Main Differences
Amount Due: Charge cards require you to pay your bill in full each billing cycle, while credit cards only require a minimum payment (a portion of your entire balance) and revolve the rest of your balance to the next billing cycle. Unless the credit card offers an introductory 0% APR though, you’ll have to pay interest on the unpaid portion of the balance.
Credit/Spending Limit: Charge cards generally don’t have preset spending limits, while credit cards will assign a credit limit based on your creditworthiness.
Debt, Interest and Fees: Charge cards will not allow you to accrue debt as you’re required to pay off your balance every month. Not paying your balance in full by the due date will attract considerable late fees though. Credit cards will only attract late fees if the minimum payment is not made by the due date. However, credit cards will accrue interest on any unpaid balance, unless they offer an introductory 0% APR for a certain period of time.
Credit Score Impact: Credit utilization isn’t part of the scoring criteria for charge cards, as they have no preset spending limit. Credit utilization for credit cards, on the other hand, is recommended to be kept no higher than 30-40%.
Annual Fees: Charge cards tend to charge high annual fees, while credit cards make for a more diverse offering, covering the whole spectrum of credit, from bad and limited, to excellent credit.
Some hybrid cards do have some sort of short-term financing. For example, American Express has a feature called "Pay Over Time" on some of their cards. That lets you carry a balance between months on certain eligible charges, with interest, up to a limit. Not all cardholders are eligible and all charges that are not included in the Pay Over Time balance must be paid in full by the due date.
Now that you’re familiar with the fundamental differences between charge cards and credit cards, you can take a look at some of the best that both types have to offer.
Overall, credit cards tend to be better than their charge card counterparts for most people. Credit cards provide financing capabilities, for one thing, and some of them are much easier to obtain. Charge cards can be very attractive to a certain segment of the market, though – people with good or better credit who always pay in full and want premium rewards.
Yes, closing credit accounts can hurt your credit score in the short term, depending on how old the accounts are and how much other credit you have. But canceling a credit card account might also benefit your credit score in the long run if you manage the rest of your finances better as a result of having one fewer account to worry about.… read full answer
Here’s what happens to your credit score when you cancel a credit card:
Credit score drops: Your credit score often goes down because the average age of your open accounts decreases and your overall utilization increases (since you have less available credit).
Scores bounce back: Your credit score should rebound within 3-6 months of canceling your credit card account. Make sure to have at least one open credit card remaining and pay all your bills on time.
What happens if you don’t cancel: A credit card that is in good standing will continue to help your credit score. Even if you don’t make purchases with it, it will still report positive information to the credit bureaus each month. This is definitely worth considering if your card does not charge an annual fee.
Age matters: Closing newer accounts won’t have as much of an impact as closing older ones.
Limit matters: Closing low-limit accounts won’t do as much damage as closing high-limit ones.
When score drops matter: If you don’t need the best score possible for the 3-6 months it usually takes credit scores to bounce back after credit card cancelation, the temporary drop shouldn’t cost you anything.
Bottom Line: Avoid canceling your oldest card and your card with the highest credit limit. That will mitigate the amount of credit score damage. And if you have to close your oldest or highest-limit card, make sure you do it at a time when you don’t need your credit score to be at its best.
A charge card is a credit card that requires the balance to be paid in full every month.
Many people use charge cards because they force more disciplined spending than credit cards. Because charge cards require payment in full each month, consumers cannot adopt an "I'll pay for it later" type of approach and continue to amass more and more debt. If they do not pay their balances in full by a specific time (usually within 25 days of the bills arrival) they cannot make any more purchases.… read full answer
Additionally, many people enjoy the rewards and exclusivity garnered from charge cards. Users often earn points on their purchases and receive other perks like concierge service and discounted tickets to concerts and sporting events.
The main difference between an Amex credit card and an Amex charge card is that Amex charge cards generally don’t allow you to carry a balance from month to month. Instead, you must pay off purchases in full each month. Technically, though, a charge card is a type of credit card – just not one with a revolving line of credit.… read full answer
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