It’s hard to imagine a world without credit cards. Credit cards allow people to build credit, earn amazing rewards and cash back on everyday purchases, and pay off balances over time. And thanks to modern card safety features, security concerns are a thing of the past. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to find a great credit card with a simple online search. In fact, many cards have no annual fees and can be applied for in just a few minutes.
Why It’s Time to Start Using a Credit Card
If you’re someone who makes purchases with cash or a debit card, you’re missing out big time. Using a credit card is one of the easiest ways to earn big rewards on everyday spend at little to no added cost.
There are credit cards offering anywhere from 0.3% – 2% of your spend back in cash or travel rewards. As long as you pay the credit card off in time, you’ll incur no interest expenses whatsoever. Big spenders can literally earn thousands a year in cash back or free flights or hotels. Smaller spenders can still accumulate some pretty great rewards over time.¹
It’s not just about rewards either. Using a credit card typically gives you anywhere between 30-45 days to pay off the balance with no interest charge. Also, by using a credit card you’ll often be able to build credit, making it easier to secure access to bigger lending at better interest rates if required in the future. And most credit card companies offer a number of other benefits as well, from complimentary travel insurance to airport lounge access and discounts at major retailers.²
Many people think this sounds too good to be true and that there must be some sort of catch. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. That’s because one of the ways credit cards make money is by charging businesses a fee every time they accept a credit card transaction. Whenever you make a purchase, the business you are buying from is paying a little bit of the sale to the credit card company.
When you receive rewards and other benefits for your spend, you are simply earning back a share of the profit the credit card company makes. It’s a win-win situation. Some, but not all, credit card companies do charge an annual fee to use the card, but the benefits usually more than compensate for the fee.
If you don’t pay off your card by the due date, it is true that you will incur hefty interest charges. This is easily avoided by only buying what you can afford and making sure to pay off your card in full every month.³
Take Advantage of Sign Up Bonuses
In recent years, there have been more and more banks and credit card companies who are all competing for customers. In response to this, many credit card providers have started to offer some truly compelling sign up bonuses. In some cases, cards that normally have an annual fee will be offered with the first year for free.
In other cases, credit cards will offer bonus rewards on the first few thousand in spend. Some cards will provide hundreds of euros of travel rewards or cash back if you spend a few thousand within the first several months of receiving the card.⁴
What Is Required to Apply?
Signing up for a credit card is usually done entirely online and can be done very quickly from either a desktop or mobile device. Although specific requirements vary by company, you typically need to be at least 18 and have some form of identification and be a resident of the country in which you are applying. Some, but not all, credit cards have minimum income requirements as well.
Once the application process is completed, some credit cards will be able to provide a near instant decision as to whether you have been approved, while others will take longer or require further information or supporting documentation. The speed of processing depends both on your personal financial situation and the policies of the specific card you are applying to.
How to Find Credit Card Offers
Finding great credit card offers is not difficult, since companies want to do all they can to make themselves visible. Performing an online search will reveal many of the most attractive credit card offers on the market and allow you to compare several of the options. After doing a bit of research, you should easily be able to find a perfect new credit card to suit your needs.
Whether you’re applying for your first credit card or you’ve already got several, there are always new attractive offers coming to the market. It’s certainly worth taking a look to see if there are any great new cards you can benefit from.