There’s always a lot of talk about the dangers of credit cards — and with good reason, as credit card debt can quickly spiral out of control.
But there are a lot of advantages to using a credit card, as opposed to a debit card or cash. Not only do credit cards offer much better protections for you as a consumer, but they also offer a lot of rewards that you can’t get with debit cards.
Read more: Hidden dangers of debit cards
Debit vs. credit
If your credit card is compromised, the harm to you is relatively limited. You contact the issuer to report false charges and you may have to do some paperwork, but no money leaves your hands. With debit card fraud, however, thieves can steal your money immediately. Plus, your debit card is linked to your bank account and potentially your savings account etc. And when that money is stolen, there is no easy way to get it back.
Using a credit card also helps you build credit, as long as you use it responsibly. So if you can make purchases on the card and pay the balance off in full before the due date, that will help you improve your credit history and credit score. Here’s more on how ‘good’ debt can work in your favor.
With that said, whether it’s for protection purposes, credit building or rewards, there are certain purchases you should always make with a credit card.
10 purchases you should always make with a credit card
1. Online shopping
With the risk of Internet fraud increasing every day, you’re better off using a credit card when you shop online.
If a scammer gets access to your information, it’s a lot easier to dispute the charge and get your money back if it involves a credit card. With debit card fraud, the money leaves your account immediately, and then on top of losing that cash temporarily, depending on the situation, you may only get a portion of your money back when the issue is resolved. In some cases, you may not get any money back.
Also, if the item you buy online never shows up, you have a 60-day window to dispute the charge if it’s made on a credit card.
2. Small vendors or places you’ve never shopped before
If you’re at a market or some random store where you’ve never been before, stick with a credit card. You have no idea if the person you’re buying from (or the system they’re using) is trustworthy, and in the case of fraud, a credit card will give you much better protections.
3. Rental cars
Many credit cards offer additional rental-car insurance, which will allow you to avoid some of the typical fees associated with renting a car.
Plus, if you use a debit card, you usually have to put down a deposit — which would temporarily take a big chunk of money out of your account.
Read more: How to get the best deal on a rental car
4. Hotel rooms
Just like rental car companies, hotels prefer that you use a credit card, because it guarantees they’ll get their money. So if you use a debit card, hotels will typically require a big deposit.
Most credit cards offer extended warranties on electronics that double the manufacture’s own warranty. So when the person at the store tries to talk you into buying an extended warranty, keep these two things in mind:
- Electronics are historically very reliable and seldom fail — so purchasing an extended warranty is typically a big waste and just a way for the store to get more money out of you.
- Purchasing the item on a credit card will give you peace of mind, knowing you have the added protection that most credit cards offer.
6. Purchases made over the phone
Even if you call a company directly, you never really know who’s on the other end of the line. So you’re better off using a credit card for any over-the-phone transactions.
Not only will a credit card protect you in the case of fraud, but if you’re ordering something to be shipped, it will also be easier to get your money back if the item never arrives.
7. Expensive items
Any time you make a big purchase, it’s worth using a credit card for the added protections. If you change your mind or something goes wrong with the purchase, and the company gives you a hard time, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you’re trying to get back a large sum of cash because you used a debit card.
Many credit cards offer additional travel insurance and protections on purchases like flights, so if something goes wrong or comes up, you don’t risk losing all of your money.
9. Rewards-eligible items
Choosing a credit card based on your spending habits will allow you to maximize the rewards. So when you go to make purchases that are eligible for rewards or cash back, using your credit card will allow you get even more out of each purchase you make. Just be sure that you can pay the balance off in full before the due date!
10. When added protection is included
Many credit cards offer some type of purchase protection, also called damage protection, which protects the purchase against theft or damage for a limited time.
Just make sure to check with your credit card issuer to find out the exact details of your card’s protections.
Read more: How to shop for the best credit card for you