There are 364 million credit card accounts in America—more than the entire U.S. population according to American Banking Association statistics for the year ending December 2017. This is a clear indication that most credit card holders in the U.S. have more than one credit card.
However, this may not be a bad thing as many people would want us to believe. One such person is the self-made billionaire, Mark Cuban who has been on record (back in 2008, in his personal blog) alluding to the fact that people who use credit cards don’t want to succeed.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although credit card debt has hit the $1 trillion mark, there are many people, including myself, who use credit cards responsibly. Here’s more on why I use credit cards and why you should do the same.
Why you should use a credit card
There are plenty of reasons you should consider using a credit card—not just for occasional purchases, but for all of your purchases. Here are a few:
1. Sign-up bonuses
If you have a high credit score, you can often qualify for a sign-up bonus of about $250 or more when you take advantage of the best credit card offers today. Some cards provide redeemable points, miles, or plain cash, just for signing up. I consider these signup bonuses “free cash.”
Bonuses will vary based on the type of credit card you choose, and often the ones with the best sign-up bonuses have the highest annual fees.
Typically, cards like these come with a rewards program (more on this below) that offset that fee if you use it enough, but make sure you’re not just looking at the sign-up bonus—consider how and when you’ll use the card.
Most credit cards use a points system that allows you to earn when you use your card. Credit card companies offer promotions where purchases in specific categories—like restaurants—earn you more rewards than usual. These rewards are redeemable for gift cards or actual items in the credit company’s rewards catalog.
Another popular option is mileage reward cards—where you earn rewards for travel. These generally come with good sign-up bonuses, and the rewards you earn can wipe away, or significantly reduce, the cost of your trip. Also, many of these cards offer perks for traveling, such as extra insurance.
3. Cash back
You can also find cards that offer cash back rewards, so as you spend money you’ll get a check in the mail, a credit to your account, or money off your Amazon purchases. Cash back credit cards are growing in popularity because of their simplicity—you don’t have to worry about points or exchange rates—just use the card and earn money.
Cash back credit cards were first popularized by in the U.S. by Discover with their Discover it® Cash Back. Today, credit cards are offering 2-3% and even up to 6% cashback for selected purchases.
To maximize your earnings, make earning cash back as easy as possible. Dosh helps with that, connecting to the credit cards you already use to issue cash back on every dollar you spend. Just shop at one of Dosh’s partner retailers, and the money will be automatically added to your Dosh account. You’ll get cash back from some of the most popular retailers, restaurants, and even hotels.
4. Building credit
A credit card can help you boost your credit score, assuming you use it responsibly. A good credit score ensures you have easy access to credit. If you’ve damaged your credit history in the past or simply don’t have a credit score, opening a credit card is among the best ways to start building your score.
Plus, it’s easy to do. You don’t need to take on massive debt. In fact, just using something like a secured credit card with a low credit line can help.
Credit card companies report your payment activities to the three major credit bureaus. So responsible borrowing behavior will improve your credit history over time.
5. Convenience and safety
Credit cards are universally accepted. And there are many instances where you can’t use your debit card. For example, when you’re renting a car. Car rental companies prefer customers who pay for services using credit cards since it’s easier to charge those customers for any resulting damages. It may be possible to rent a car and pay for it using a debit card. However, the rental car company can hold hundreds of dollars as security.
Also, using a credit card for things like travel and car rentals can provide you with an extra layer of security in the event something significant happens, such as injury or damage to your vehicle.
How to use a credit card responsibly
You can use a credit card and still get rich. The reason why billionaires like Mark Cuban would discourage credit card use is that many people lack the knowledge and discipline required to get the best out of credit cards.
Here’s more on how to use a credit card responsibly.
1. Find the right card
It’s hard using a credit card responsibly if you use the “wrong” credit card in the first place. As mentioned above, the credit card you choose must match your needs/spending patterns perfectly.
If you travel a lot, find a credit card that rewards travelers. If you have difficulty repaying massive debt, take a card with a low limit. It might take time to find the right credit card, but it’ll be worth it. To make your life a little easier, here are links to all our credit card guides:
- Best Cash Back Credit Cards
- Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
- Best Credit Cards For Young Adults
- Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
- Best Student Credit Cards
- Best Sign-Up Bonus Credit Cards
- Best Secured Credit Cards
2. Spend responsibly
Credit cards have spending limits and terms that must be adhered too. I don’t encourage anyone who has a spending problem to use a credit card. Their convenience can encourage overspending, but it’s up to you to refrain yourself from getting into debt and damaging your credit history.
With the right card and responsible spending habits, you can enjoy all the benefits that come with the card at ZERO cost.
3. Pay your balance in full and on time
This may be common knowledge, but many people overlook credit card repayment conditions. Paying your balance promptly and in full is the best way to avoid unnecessary charges in interest and fees.
Also, paying your credit card in full every month shows more responsible usage. By carrying a balance, you’re not only paying interest, but your debt level can begin to accumulate. We’ve now seen the average credit card balance come close to $6,400 for Americans.
4. Don’t share credit cards
You need to be fully responsible for everything that is charged on your card. Sharing your credit card will most likely leave you with unexpected bills. Unless it’s an emergency, never share a credit card.
This may sound crazy, but you have the option to add someone as an authorized user on your card. This is still considered sharing a credit card because the authorized user can charge on the account but they aren’t technically obligated to pay it back. Unlike a co-signer, an authorized user is merely that—someone who can use the credit line.
5. Track your spending
Although credit cards record all transactions automatically, you must make a deliberate effort to check all expenses to make sure you’re staying on track with your spending. You’ll be surprised at the things you spend money on if you take some time to scrutinize your statement every month.
Most of you know by now what an avid user of YNAB I am. I love it because it makes you be more in touch with where your money is going.
Regardless of what software or budgeting method you use, you should be tracking your spending meticulously. Knowing where each dollar is coming from and where each dollar is going is a great financial habit.
Which cards can make you rich (or, at least make you a little extra cash)?
We have a few credit cards that we feel if used correctly, frequently, and responsibly, can help make you rich (or at least give you a little extra money each month):
Discover it® Cash Back
If you’re just looking for cash back, regardless of where you spend your money, take a look at the Discover it® Cash Back.
You automatically get 1% cash back on every purchase you make, but you also get 5% cash back in different categories each quarter, such as grocery stores, Amazon, gas stations, restaurants, or wholesale clubs (up to the $1,500 quarterly maximum) each time you activate.
Plus, Discover will match every single bit of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you’re more of a traveler, there are a couple cards we recommend checking out. First up is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With this credit card, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Also, you’ll get 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from the account being opened. That’s equivalent to $1,250 toward travel when you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Using a credit card can’t stop you from getting rich if you use your card responsibly. However, you need to get the right card first. Not all credit cards are the same. Some will be good for you while others won’t be based on factors like your spending habits, limits, and occupation.
If you follow the information above, you can use credit cards and save thousands of dollars every year which you can redirect to your savings account, invest and get rich in the long term.