12 Purchases You Should Always Make With a Credit Card

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
While it may not make sense to buy everything with a credit card, these credit card purchases can actually be financially rewarding.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Paying with credit cards can be one of the easiest ways to rack up debt. But used wisely, they can help you build credit and even reward you with bonuses like cash back, airfare discounts, exclusive access to concerts and events, travel insurance, and more.

Here are some purchases you might want to consider making with a credit card. And check out these tips to boost your credit to help you access the best deals.

Flights

alexlmx/Adobe online travel tickets booking on laptop

Flights can be expensive, but it’s possible to get close to an automatic discount if you use the right card to purchase your airfare. Many rewards cards offer bonus points or miles if you use them to purchase flights. You could also receive valuable travel insurance if you use the right card.

You can find cards that offer the best benefits in our review of the best travel credit cards.

Rental cars

Friends Stock/Adobe creative concept for car rental

If you want to avoid additional costs on your next car rental, you can use one of the best credit cards for car rental insurance. These cards typically cover damage to a rental vehicle and even theft. As a result, you can bypass those types of insurance rental agencies offer. Some cards also provide bonus rewards for vehicle rentals.

Hotels

Flamingo Images/Adobe two smiling guests checking in at a hotel reception

Some credit cards offer hotel benefits like upgrading to elite status if you use them to book your stay. However, it’s often best to use a credit card that offers additional bonuses for hotel stays, including general travel cards or co-branded cards such as a Marriott or Hilton card.

You can find more options in our list of the best hotel credit cards.

Gas

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No matter how much you drive, it never hurts to save at the gas station. Some of the best credit cards for gas let you earn bonus points or cash back for filling up your car. The rewards you earn could then be used toward saving money elsewhere, including a trip or a large purchase.

Groceries

georgerudy/Adobe supermarket cash desk

For some of us, a trip to the grocery store is almost a daily event. Using a credit card to make frequent purchases like groceries can be a quick way to rack up your credit card rewards balance.

Take a look at the best credit cards for groceries to get the most out of your next shop.

Dining out

Monkey Business/Adobe waitress takes payment for restaurant bill on digital tablet

Some of the best credit cards for dining can earn you points or cash back when you use them to enjoy a night out at your favorite restaurant. If you’re a foodie, these cards will literally pay off when you consider the additional rewards they offer.

Streaming services

tanaonte/Adobe man holds a tablet with streaming companies logo on screen

As the number of streaming services grows, you might find your monthly bills going up as well. The best credit cards for streaming services can help you pay for your subscriptions and earn bonus rewards on many popular streaming services.

Electronics

Gorodenkoff/Adobe electronics store professional consultant shows latest uhd tv to a young man

Apart from the points you could earn from buying an expensive electronic, paying with some rewards credit cards could also help protect your purchases. Some cards offer purchase protection, extended warranty protection, or both on certain electronics, safeguarding the money you’ve put into your high-tech investments.

Event tickets

Prostock-studio/Adobe woman buying event tickets via app on smartphone and credit card

If you’re an avid concertgoer, you know that concert tickets can be expensive. The best credit cards for concerts provide bonus rewards for buying tickets and many also offer perks for securing exclusive access to different events.

Cell phone bills

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe  smiling blonde woman in sweater holding bills in one hand and in other smart phone

Cell phone protection isn’t common with most credit cards and could come in handy if your phone is damaged or stolen. Some of the best credit cards for cell phones can earn you bonus rewards, cell phone protection, or both when you use them to pay your cell phone bill.

Internet bills

baranq/Adobe cheerful young man paying bills online with credit card and laptop

Although some credit cards offer bonus rewards on specific monthly utilities, some utility companies charge fees if you pay your bill with a credit card. However, you can use one of the best credit cards for utilities to pay for your internet, cable, or phone services and rack up points, rewards, and other bonuses to offset these fees.

International travel

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Traveling abroad can be a great opportunity to experience new things, but one experience you might want to avoid is making purchases with the wrong credit card. If your card charges foreign transaction fees, you might quickly see the costs add up on your travels.

If you frequently travel abroad, you may want to explore these credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

How to choose a credit card

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Consider these factors if you’re deciding which credit card might be right for you:

  • Your credit: Whether you have poor credit, good credit, or excellent credit will help determine what types of credit cards you might qualify for.
  • Annual fee: Cards with the best benefits often come with annual fees. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each card to see if paying the fee would make sense for you. There are also plenty of options for no annual fee credit cards.
  • Interest rates: It’s not typically recommended to carry a balance on a credit card because of high interest rates. But it could make sense in certain situations, especially if you can score a 0% APR credit card.
  • Rewards: Do you want to earn cash back, points, or miles? There are different cards for each category, and your preference will help narrow your choices.
  • Benefits: Certain cards offer travel benefits, purchase protections, annual credits, or other perks. Knowing what types of benefits you might want with your card can help you make a selection.

Bottom line

kite_rin/Adobe young man using digital tablet with credit card

To find the right credit card for your situation, figure out what it is you’re looking for as well as the types of cards you might qualify for. For instance, do you want to cut down on travel expenses or get cash back on groceries or gas?

Using your rewards credit cards often lets you earn rewards and benefits and can help you track your spending. Depending on the credit card and the type of purchase, you might even find some surprising benefits you didn’t know about.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards

5.0

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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