Do You Know the Pros and Cons of Credit Cards?

Mar 07, 2016
Author: Ean Barnard

Credit cards can be like weapons, dangerous in the wrong hands, but sometimes you’re glad to have one.

We’ve all heard the dreadful stories of consumers tumbling into awful debt, their lives decaying as they descend into financial ruin.

"With great power comes great responsibility,” as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben would say.

Here at Fincheck, we’re big on comparing credit cards, but we’re also firm believers on educating people to spend responsibly. With a bit of savvy, anyone can use a credit card in a practical and constructive way.

Here’s a list of some pros and cons to shopping with a credit card:

The Pros

+ Convenience

If you need to buy something expensive or cover an emergency that you can’t afford to pay for all at once, a credit card is ideal. Credit cards let you buy now and pay later. Let’s say you had to pay for a major car repair, by using your credit card you can keep your checking account intact and pay the balance over time, thus not throwing you into a sticky financial condition for the rest of the month.

+ Building positive credit

If you have no credit or if you’re trying to improve your credit score, using a credit card responsibly will help your credit score - as long as you stay within your means and pay your bills on time. Credit cards are indispensable tools for persons wanting to build good credit. By making frequent purchases and keeping current with your payments, you can quickly build a respectable credit history. You’ll be able to get a loan at a fair interest rate, and be approved for various other ventures. By using credit cards wisely, you can boost your score in just a few months.

+ Peace of mind when traveling

Some credit cards offer benefits such as travel and emergency assistance or other travel-related features. Think purchasing power. When you want to rent a car or stay in a hotel room, you'll almost certainly have an easier time if you have a credit card. Many credit cards (especially Visa and MasterCard) are accepted virtually anywhere.

+ Rewards

By using a credit card, you can earn money back on your day-to-day purchases. Cards like the Discovery Card give cardholders cash-back on things like groceries, gas and select store purchases. If you like to travel, many cards offer discount on flights, hotels and car rentals as rewards. Of course, you don’t want to spend excessively just to earn a few reward miles, but why not make a couple of bucks on purchases you’d make in any case?

The Cons

- Beware the debt trap

Remember that a credit card is a form of borrowing. You buy now and pay later, it’s a privilege, thus, there are risks involved. If you don't pay off your balance in full within the timeframe, you’ll rack up interest at a high rate. A high APR rate can drag you deeper and deeper into debt if you don’t pay off your balance quickly, or if you only barely make your minimum repayments.

- Other costs

The interest rate is not the only cost of a credit card. A fee will be charged if you’re late at making your monthly payment, or miss it altogether. You'll also pay a penalty if you exceed your credit limit. This can add up quickly, especially for repeat delinquents.

- Easy spending

Credit cards make it easy to spend money, perhaps too easy. It’s easy to become disconnected from your spending. Sometimes swiping that little piece of plastic doesn’t seem like a big deal. Every married South African man will know the perils involved in handing over that credit card to ma’am when she’s going to the mall. It all comes down to being careful with your money. Luckily, if you’ve read this far, you’re well on your way to becoming a responsible credit card user!

- Destroy credit scores.

If abused, your credit card spending habits can drive your credit score into a downward spiral. Your credit score will take a hit if you miss payments, carry a high balance or have too many open credit card accounts.

And that sirs and madames, concludes the good and the ugly of credit cards. If you can handle the responsibility that comes with a credit card, and develop good spending habits, you’ll be fine. There are many places you can get a credit card in South Africa, and please feel free to make use of the Fincheck Credit Card Comparisons as your trusted partner in your financial needs!

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