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Credit Cards

The 4 best times to use them

Handsome hipster paying with smartphone at coffee shop

Ah, credit cards. They sometimes get a bad rap because they can carry a high interest rate and make it tempting to over-spend. But if you use them responsibly, credit cards can actually be a great financial tool. Credit card companies offer a lot of protection; if there are fraudulent charges on your account, the credit card company will reverse them. You can also earn rewards and points when you put expenses on your card rather than paying in cash.

Obviously, you want to avoid making frivolous purchases with your credit card—or charging more than you can afford to pay off. However, there are times when using your credit card is a really good idea.

Buying Plane Tickets

Many credit card companies offer some level of travel insurance. If you have to cancel your trip due to an emergency, this insurance may allow you to recoup some or all of the cost of your plane ticket. Some credit card companies will even cover medical expenses and other emergency expenses you incur on your trip! Check your account policy to find out what travel insurance benefits you have; you'll likely be surprised.

Paying for Gym Memberships

Gym memberships are awesome while you have them. When the time comes to cancel your membership, however, you might have a tough time. Gyms are notorious for continuing to charge customers even after they have tried to cancel. If this happens on your credit card, no worries! You will see the charge before you actually pay it. The credit card company can call and dispute the charge on your behalf, which keeps you from having to spend half a day on the phone with the gym.

Buying Gas

Sadly, gas pumps are a common target for identity thieves and hackers, so using a credit card to fill up your tank is often a safer option. Your credit card company can refuse to pay fraudulent charges, and you won't be out a thing. Many credit card companies will also send you text or email alerts before purchases from gas stations are made on your card from out-of-state. Often, they can decline these transactions before they even hit your account.

Paying Utility Bills

You have to pay these bills, so why not earn rewards points as you do so? Regularly charging these bills and paying them off will also help build your credit. You can easily set up automatic payments to make sure they are paid on time as well.

Credit cards can offer great protection and convenience. Do make sure you always pay your bill off at the end of the month to avoid interest, and don't share your account information with anyone. But also don't shy away from using your card, especially for the purposes listed above. This can help you to earn points, stay safe, and boost your credit score over time.

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