Yes, you should get a credit card. You should get your own credit card account if you’re at least 18 years old, and you should get a parent to make you an authorized user on their credit card account when you are too young to get a credit card alone. There are many reasons to get a credit card, including convenience and earning rewards on purchases, but the best benefit is building the credit history needed to eventually land great interest rates when you need to borrow a lot of money, such as for a home or a vehicle.
Why Should You Get a Credit Card
Credit cards help build credit. Every month you pay your bill on time and keep your account in good standing, credit cards report good information about you to credit bureaus – even if you don’t use the card at all.
Credit cards are convenient. Credit cards – especially Visa and Mastercard – are accepted nearly everywhere in the world, and it’s much easier to keep track of a credit card than a wad of paper currency.
Credit cards are better to use abroad than cash or debit cards. As long as you don’t get a credit card with foreign transaction fees, credit cards are a huge asset when traveling outside the U.S. You won’t have to worry about changing money into local currency because it happens automatically at a low rate with a credit card.
It’s easier to deal with credit card fraud than debit card fraud. All credit card networks have $0 liability guarantees for fraudulent transactions. When credit card fraud takes place, it’s usually a simple matter of calling the card issuer to get the charges taken off your account. Debit card fraud isn’t as easy to deal with, because it involves money that was taken from your bank account.
Many credit cards offer rewards on purchases. Most people welcome free money, and that’s exactly what credit card rewards are. With the best rewards credit cards, you can get up to 6% back on some types of purchases, or up to 2% back on every purchase with a flat-rate cash back card.
When used responsibly, credit cards are a win-win situation. Plus, many credit cards give the opportunity to earn bonus rewards and enjoy perks such as free airport lounge access or 0% introductory APRs. There are even credit cards for people with bad credit - some of which can help rebuild damaged credit.
It’s reasonable to be worried about the downsides of credit cards – namely, overspending. But don’t give up on building credit as a result. Tools like secured credit cards and automatic payment features can help mitigate the risks for people who are new to credit cards, and you don’t have to even use a credit card to make purchases for it to build your credit history.
If you aren’t quite ready to take on the risk yourself, ask a parent or good friend if they can add you to their card as an authorized user. As long as the primary cardholder uses the card responsibly, authorized users get to build credit history without having to remember to pay the bill.
Ultimately, remembering these three critical rules of credit card use can go a long way toward ensuring credit is a positive in your life: 1) Always pay your bill in full and on-time; 2) Don’t spend more than you can afford to pay every month; and 3) Always read the fine print before you apply. Do those things and your wallet will thank you.
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