Have you ever seen one of those news clips from the 1950's that promised a better life with things like flying cars, and rockets?
Sure, most of that stuff never worked out the way they thought it would, but there's one thing from that era that actually became far more useful than anyone could have predicted.
It's when the world was cordially introduced to credit cards.
Companies like American Express and the Diner's Club introduced credit cards in the 1950's and 1960's as a new way to pay for restaurant bills and travel reservations on borrowed credit. Half a century later, I'm not sure anyone could imagine credit cards not existing. I certainly can't.
Do you use credit cards on a regular basis? I'm guessing you do, but if not, here are 6 things to consider – and spoiler alert – they will help you live a better life if you use them right.
1. Your money will never be lost or stolen
Losing money sucks.
I'm still pretty upset that I lost a $10 bill at a bowling alley when I was 12 years old, but I think that's the last time I've had any money lost or stolen.
Because I primarily use credit cards, it's virtually impossible to misplace my money.
Sure, I've lost credit cards and even had them stolen on occasion, but in each case, all I had to do was call the card issuer and report the loss, and I never lost a cent. Federal law limits cardholders to $50 in liability, but every credit card issuer I've ever heard of has a zero liability policy, so your money is safe.
2. They smooth out your cash flow
Whether you get paid every week or every month, the need for money is never as regular as our paychecks.
The beautiful thing about credit cards is that you don't have to pay for your charges until 21-25 days after your statement closes, and you never pay interest if you pay the statement balance in full.
This basically means you receive a free loan through your credit cards, which really helps smooth things out when cash is tight.
3. They can help boost your credit score
I have friends who thought they were being so smart by avoiding credit cards all through college, only to realize that they had no credit history when they graduated. Insert face-palm emoji...
Thankfully, I've pretty much always had a few credit cards and have built an awesome credit score, just by charging a few things each month and paying my bills on time. So when I went to buy my first house, it was no problem.
4. The sign-up bonuses are freakin' amazing
A bank might give you a toaster (for real), or even $100 for opening up a checking account with them, but these kinds of bonuses have got nothing on credit cards.
I've opened up credit cards that offered a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points (worth over $750 in travel!)
And the catch? Well, there really isn't one. They give you the points or cash back just for meeting the minimum spending requirements and for giving them a chance to earn your business, which is completely worth it in my opinion.
5. The rewards are AWESOME
If you put everything on your credit card, it's pretty easy to earn between 2%-5% cash back on everything you buy.
Seriously, the incentive to purchase both everyday and big-ticket items on your cards is huge!
There's really no reason you shouldn't be using your card to earn rewards.
Even for someone who spends about $2,500 a month, that can work out to about $1,000 in savings each year. And technically, since you are saving money on a purchase, and not actually earning money, credit card rewards are not considered taxable.
6. The travel benefits totally rock
This is probably my most favorite thing about credit cards. As a frequent flier, I really hate standing in line at security, but I always seem to have the right credit card to avoid it.
It starts with an airline credit card that offers priority check-in and lands me in the super-fast TSA Pre-Check line at security. This line typically costs $85 to apply but with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I get the money reimbursed. Bonus points, Chase!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also gives me a $300 travel credit every year, which means they automatically reimburse me for travel-related expenses until I've reached the $300 cap. This not only includes the obvious travel purchases like flights, hotels, and rental cars, but also Uber and Lyft rides, parking garages, and more.
I also get primary rental car insurance when I rent a vehicle using the card, which is totally awesome since most cards only provide secondary insurance.
Other added benefits include trip delay insurance, lost luggage insurance, and purchase protection. I rarely need to use those benefits, but it's nice to know I have them.
Get the inside scoop on credit cards and maximizing rewards by joining our FBZ Elite Facebook Group!