While 60% of the UK adult population has a credit card, the remaining 40% may be missing out on the benefits they can provide.
Certainly, having a credit card can lead to a number of risks that are not present with a debit card. For example, it can be more challenging to keep track of what has been spent, while interest costs can spiral.
However, for people who intend to pay off the balance in full each month, credit cards can offer a number of advantages. With that in mind, here, in no particular order, are four benefits of credit cards that could make them worth having – even for individuals who are unlikely to use credit cards regularly.
1. Credit score
Credit cards can help consumers to improve their credit score. They provide a track record of behaviour that is used by lenders to determine whether to provide credit products such as loans or mortgages. An individual who lacks a credit history may be seen as a riskier prospect than someone who has a track record of repaying their credit card each month, for example.
Tip: Clearly, failing to repay credit card debt can have a negative impact on an individual’s credit score. As such, it could make sense to set up a direct debit so that it is paid off in full each month.
Credit cards provide significantly greater protection than debit cards when the cost of an item or service is over £100. Under Section 75 of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act, a credit card company must take the same responsibility as a retailer if something goes amiss with a purchase. For example, if a retailer goes under before a product or service is delivered, a consumer who requests a refund will receive one from their credit card company.
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As such, it is worth having a credit card even when used rarely, since it could save an individual significant sums of money should they experience difficulties after a major purchase.
Using a credit card means that it is not necessary to carry around large sums of cash. Should an individual lose their credit card, it can quickly and easily be frozen so that it can no longer be used. A replacement card can then be sent out in a short space of time. In contrast, losing a wallet or purse full of cash would be detrimental to an individual’s financial position.
This could make a credit card a more secure means of paying for everyday items, as well as for large purchases.
Some credit cards provide access to a variety of offers that may be highly appealing depending on an individual’s personal circumstances. For example, some credit card issuers provide VIP access to concerts for cardholders, while others offer exclusive access to events at discounted prices. Rewards credit cards allow users to earn points that can be redeemed for a variety of goods, be used on travel or, in some cases, turned into cash. Other credit card providers may have more favourable foreign exchange rates for cardholders. Such offers are often available to all cardholders – no matter how frequently a card has been used.
With such offers often being a permanent feature of certain credit cards, it may be worthwhile for consumers to consider them when deciding which card is best suited to their personal requirements.
While 40% of the UK adult population may feel that they do not need a credit card, having one could provide them with a number of benefits that are not always obvious. Greater security, the availability of offers, increased payment protection and the potential to build an improved credit score could mean that now is the right time to obtain a credit card.
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