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It seems like the cost of living gets higher and higher as the years go by.
Long gone are the days when you didn’t need one or more college degrees to get a job, and 2 incomes of at least $60,000 annually to afford a house in the suburbs, a car, and to start a family.
So, it’s understandable why we millennials can be scared off by the thought of debilitating credit card debt on top of all that.
Some of our parents or friends may even have told us some horror stories where they got a credit card, went on a shopping spree, and took 15 years to pay off the balance plus interest.
If you’re anything like me, you might not want to come close to the devil’s fruit. Or maybe you simply have a credit card because banks have told you, “You need one to build your credit,” and use it ever so sparingly.
It has even been said that millennials are more afraid of credit card debt than they are of death, climate change, or the impending threat of war.
…I think that says a lot.
However, my fellow millennials, this article will show you why you should take advantage of that shiny plastic weapon in your arsenal.
Credit cards, although they have a pretty bad rep, also have a whole lot to offer. They come with:
- rewards that could open up a world of travel and cash back,
- insurance coverage that will protect you and your purchases, and…
- perks and benefits that you have probably only dreamed of.
And don’t worry… If you’ve already messed up, there are still ways to move forward.
So, keep reading, and maybe you’ll find that there is another side to every story, and credit cards aren’t as scary as you think.
Credit card rewards are totally worth it
The rewards that you’re able to earn with a credit card are pretty great.
It’s basically free money, just for using the card.
Yes, some credit cards have annual fees, but if you get one that matches your spending, the rewards you earn easily make up for that fee (and then some!)
All you need to do is decide if you would rather earn points to help you travel the world, or put valuable cash back into your wallet.
Travel rewards credit cards
Often awarded as “miles” or “points”, depending on the card you choose, travel rewards could allow you to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, and car rentals nearly in full.
For example, the
- 1 point for every dollar spent, and
- 2 points for each dollar spent on gas, groceries, and restaurants, for up to $5,000 on each category.
1 MBNA Rewards point is worth 1 cent of travel rewards.
So, with this card in your wallet, you could be earning up to 2% back on all your purchases in travel rewards.
Many travel credit cards will also allow you to redeem your points for cash, but you’ll get a much bigger bang for your buck if you redeem your miles or points for travel rewards instead.
Related: Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada
Cash rewards cards
If the travel bug hasn’t bitten you yet, or if you’re a homebody like me, a cash back rewards card could be extremely beneficial.
Like travel rewards cards, you can earn points or percentages of cash back on every single purchase you make.
- 2% cash back on 2 select categories of your choice, and
- 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.
What is cool about this card is if you have your cash back rewards deposited into a no fee Tangerine savings account you can choose a 3rd spending category to earn 2% in.
Plus, you have the ability to change your categories as your spending habits change.
Noob tip: You don’t need to take the first credit card you’re offered and you don’t even need to get one from the bank with whom you do the rest of your banking. There are lots of credit card options out there, so be sure to get the one that is best for you.
Insurance coverage is often included at no cost
One cool feature that comes with many credit cards is insurance.
The type of insurance you will find most often on a credit card is purchase insurance.
Purchase insurance will cover anything you buy with your credit card and comes in two different types:
- Extended Warranty: Which will most often double the manufacturer’s warranty up to a year, although there are cards that will triple it up to two years, and
- Purchase Protection: Which has your back if something you’ve bought is accidentally damaged, lost, or stolen – usually for 90 days, but with some cards it’s up to 180 days.
There are also different types of travel insurance your credit card can offer you.
Travel accident is the most popular and will pay out a lump sum if you are dismembered or killed on a “common carrier” … But let’s not jinx anything.
Premium travel cards will often give you a slew of really great travel insurance, such as Flight or Baggage Delay, Trip Interruption, and Rental Car Theft or Damage.
These are all things that ultimately add peace of mind and could potentially save you TONS of money if ever anything bad did happen.
Some cards come with some pretty awesome benefits
Credit card perks and benefits are the frosting on the already pretty tasty cake.
American Express cards will give you “Front of the line” access to advanced ticket sales and reserved seating.
Would you like a complimentary bottle of wine at a number of amazing restaurants around the world, or an exclusive 10% off at a luxury store in India? Mastercard has you covered.
Plus, some cards will give you concierge services, airport lounge access, sign-up bonuses, roadside assistance, priority security lanes, check-in and board at airports, and companion flight vouchers, just to name a few.
All-around AWESOMENESS that you would never get by just paying with debit or cash.
But what if you’ve already messed up?
Even if you’ve already used your credit card irresponsibly, and you just can’t seem to make that credit card debt go down, there are ways to get out.
Secured credit cards, low interest credit cards, and balance transfer bonuses could help free you from the dark hole of debt in which you may find yourself.
Secured credit cards
Have you recently applied for a credit card, but were denied because of poor credit? If so, a card like the
With a secured card, you will be required to put up a security deposit as collateral.
Because you are giving a bank money up front, they will be more likely to give you a credit card, since they are covered in the event that you can’t pay.
Getting and using a secured credit card will help you build your credit back up, since banks like Home Trust will report monthly to Equifax and TransUnion, helping you build up your credit score.
Those 3 digits follow you all your life, so having a good credit score is important – especially if you want to move out of that crappy apartment and finally buy a house.
Low interest credit cards
Low interest credit cards don’t often have any perks or insurance, but if you have found yourself falling behind on payments in the past and you don’t want to go down that road again, they do offer lower interest rates and should give you some peace of mind.
Balance transfer promos
A balance transfer is when you transfer the balance you owe on one credit card to another credit card with lower interest rates.
Most credit cards will charge around 20% interest, so, transferring any pre-existing credit card debt to a lower interest card could save you big time.
Some cards even have balance transfer promos that will cut the interest to as low as 1.99% for a set amount of time.
Noob tip: The above card isn’t specifically for people with poor credit, so if your credit score is on the lower end, this might not be the card for you.
Balance transfer promos can really help you save in interest charges, but be wary – if you haven’t paid off your debt in full by the time the balance transfer period is over, the interest rate might rocket back up to the 22.99% mark, so, always read the fine print.
Want to make sure you never miss a payment again?
Noob tip: Many credit cards will allow you to set up auto-pay. This is a pre-authorized payment that you can set up to either pay the minimum payment or the full balance of your credit card once a month. With this in place your credit score will never have to suffer from a missed credit card payment.
Our final thoughts
The key to all of this?
Trust yourself, be responsible, and do your research.
Used wisely, credit cards are tools that can offer many valuable benefits and don’t need to be as scary as our parents made them out to be.
Trust yourself not to fall for the credit card’s enticing trap of “free” money – because that is exactly what a credit card is not – and reap the great rewards that come with being a mature, credit card wielding adult.
We would love to hear from you
Do you fear credit card debt? Or are you a millennial that uses their credit card wisely?
Or maybe you have already made a few mistakes and you’re ready to give credit cards another go?
Leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences with our readers.