why should you get a credit cardWhile this information was accurate at the time this post was published, these cards’ offers and perks may have expired or changed over time. Visit our reviews of the best credit cards to find the right card for your needs.

You might be familiar with the commonly discussed horror stories associated with credit cards. Perhaps you recall tales of credit card users getting drawn into black holes of debt, or maybe you’ve heard about the negative impacts of data breaches on many credit card holders. While there are consequences that could arise from irresponsible credit card usage, especially if your credit card bill isn’t paid on time, there are plenty of reasons why it is worth it for you to get a credit card – particularly if you use it responsibly. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to see why you should get a credit card.

What’s a credit card?

Before citing the reasons why a credit card may be beneficial for you, it’s helpful to know what a credit card is. Credit cards are typically issued by financial institutions, such as banks, and other entities, such as retail stores. When you open a credit card account, you receive a line of credit – the total amount of money you can borrow from the card issuer. Every time you make a purchase with your credit card, you borrow money from the issuer. This system allows you to spend money without having it deducted directly from your bank account, like with a debit card. As a credit card user, you are responsible for paying that money back to the card issuer in full (or at least making the minimum required payment) on a monthly basis. If you fail to fulfill your part of the agreement, you will be charged a late fee and a penalty APR will be applied to your account. Failing to pay your credit card bill over and over will land your account in collections.

Why should you get a credit card?

As we mentioned, there are several reasons why you should consider getting a credit card. Here are five reasons why a credit card could be a handy addition to your life:

Enjoy rewards and perks

Credit cards aren’t just smart financial tools – they can also provide rewards on your purchases as well as all kinds of handy benefits. Depending on your needs and wants, you can get a credit card that earns cash back, travel rewards or points on all or some of your purchases. For example, if you eat out frequently, you could consider the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.

When it comes to perks, most credit cards come with at least a few, ranging from travel benefits, like car rental insurance or free checked bags on certain flights, to access to special discounts and deals. Some card issuers are known for their benefits, like Discover, which offers free identity monitoring to all its cardholders. These can save you even more money or at least add a little extra convenience to your life.

Build your credit history

A credit card can help build your credit history, which is a key factor in how your credit health is calculated and measured. Your credit history consists of your credit account payment history and your length of credit history (e.g., the age of your oldest account). Having a good credit history can help increase your chances of getting a desirable place to live, a job or even a credit card. Without a credit history, it can be difficult to get all of these. Why? When you apply for an apartment, loan or a job, the people who receive your application often run a credit check and look at your credit history, using it as a reference to decide if they should extend offers, such as that loan or housing offer, to you.

When looking at your credit history, the deciding parties look at how successfully you’ve repaid credit, which is why it’s important to have that credit history to back up your financial responsibility. You can use a credit card to start building your credit history, potentially increasing your chances of getting that loan, apartment or dream job. Credit cards can also help improve your credit scores by letting you increase your available credit and decrease your credit utilization ratio, which measures the amount of credit available to you compared to how much of it you’re using — ideally, you want this ratio to be no more than 30%.

Stronger fraud protection

One of the biggest benefits of having a credit card is the fraud protection it offers. If you’re a credit card user, the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) stipulates what happens if your card is lost or stolen — legally limiting your liability for any unauthorized use of your credit card to $50 if you report after your card is compromised (although, it’s worth mentioning that $0 fraud liability, something almost all credit cards offer, reduces your liability to $0). And if you report the loss or theft of your credit card before it’s used, the FCBA states that you aren’t responsible for any of the unauthorized charges on the card. In contrast, if your debit card is compromised, you might be on the hook for up to $500 if you report it any time later than 2 days after the theft occurred – and you may be out of luck on getting any of your money back if the thief drains your account. Likewise, if your cash is lost or stolen, you likely won’t be able to get any of it back. Credit cards also carry a number of other security features which help alert you to potential fraud and protect your information from getting stolen in the first place.

Spending flexibility

Have you ever been in a position where you needed to make a purchase, but you realized that you didn’t withdraw enough cash to make the purchase? Or maybe you experienced a medical emergency and payday was too far away to be able to cover it with your debit card. Because of the way credit cards work, they can be nice to have around in these kinds of situations. If you have a credit card on hand, you can use it to make any necessary purchases in lieu of cash, which you may not have available. Plus, since many credit cards offer new cardholders 0% intro APRs on purchases, you can make a large purchase now and have time to pay it down without worrying about paying interest.

Track your money

Much like with your bank account, you will receive credit card statements that list all the purchases you’ve made along with other transactions in a given month. Having a record of your purchases is beneficial for several reasons. First, having access to your statements helps you easily keep track of your spending habits, providing you with opportunities to identify any habits you may want to get rid of or places where you tend to overspend. You can also use your credit card statements to create or improve your budget, since many credit cards offer free online tools that break down your spending categories in a given month or even the entire year.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should seriously consider getting a credit card, but before you do, it’s important to research and find the right card for your needs. You can check out our reviews of the best credit cards and credit cards blog to learn everything you need to know to make the right decision.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.