Credit cards, over the decades, have become a staple in shopper's wallets. According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, 85 per cent of Canadians have a credit card, and 58 per cent have more than one. Add to this the finding of a Bank of Canada survey that suggests that 92 per cent of retailers accept credit cards as a form of payment and you've got a whole lot of non-cash purchases happening daily.
Credit card advantages
There are certainly advantages to having a credit card:
- For people just starting out, credit cards can help you establish a credit history and earn a credit rating.
- Due to its widespread acceptance, credit cards can be used almost anywhere for anything, minimizing the amount of cash you need to carry with you.
- Many people find credit cards more convenient than cash resulting in fewer trips to the ATM or bank.
- Credit cards provide you with access to funds for purchases that, provided you pay in full each month, are typically interest-free.
- Many credit cards include rewards programs. A common rewards program involves earning points (based on the value of the purchases you make on the card) that can be later redeemed for travel, merchandise or received as cash back.
- Credit cards provide shoppers with a convenient and easy method of payment for purchases completed online or over the phone.
- Where accepted, credit cards provide travellers with easy access to funds no matter the currency of the travel destination.
Credit card responsibilities
Having a credit card comes with responsibilities too:
- Do not build up your balance to a point that you can't afford to pay; this will only hurt you in the long term.
- You must make payments every month. To avoid interest charges, it is best to pay your balance in full and on time each and every month.
- Make your payments each month before the payment due date; if not, you will be charged unnecessary fees that could otherwise have been avoided.
- Know how much you have in credit. Exceeding your credit limit will cost you in extra, unnecessary fees.
- Read your credit card's terms and conditions. Every card is different; the terms, conditions and fees of one card may not be the same as another.
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