Updated: Jan 18, 2022
When I’m out with friends or family, I’m always waiting to see what they pull out of their wallet to pay with! Once I see them pull out a debit card to pay, I literally cringe! My wife can’t even hold it back anymore and always says, “here we go, he’s going to tell you why you should use a credit card and not a debit because you gain nothing from it.” And yes, that’s one of many reasons why you should pay with credit cards only.
I’ve heard a range of reasons why they’re using the debit from the most common, “I don’t care” to “I’m just using it because I don’t want to have to worry about paying my credit card bill.”
So, this is a very important post about the many reasons why credit cards are the only way you should pay for everything, when allowed. We’ll also discuss using AutoPay for paying credit card bills.
Before debunking some of the false tales about paying for items with credit cards, let’s first discuss a couple truths about using credit cards.
Danger of Over Spending
When using credit cards, you should use them organically with your budget and spending habits. It’s a known thing that spending with plastic (now also metal) entices you to spend more because you don’t see the money physically leaving your hands or account. While I believe this, it’s also important to know what you have in your account before shopping for anything.
Those with bad habits with credit cards and still want one, I’d suggest getting a “Secured” credit card. You’ll learn how to use a credit card better and you’ll be spending your own money. They effectively will teach you better habits which will then graduate you to a “Unsecured” credit card.
Sign Up Bonuses (SUB’s) are another big part of any type of Travel credit cards. This, in my opinion, is the number one way credit card companies get customers to over spend on their products. They seduce you with a high amount of points/miles by spending a certain amount in a specific time frame. When it’s not organic and that person with the credit card isn’t prepared to spend the set limit, it causes credit card debt. Which in return, the bank collects extra money from its consumer and those points/miles have zero value.
For example, The Platinum Card by Amex will give you 125k MR points if you spend $6,000 in 6 months. If you don’t think you’re going to spend $6k in 6 months, you should not get the card because of FOMO (fear of missing out). Just wait until you have an expense or coming up and get a big SUB then.
Moral of the story is, have a plan when opening new credit cards. After receiving the card, keep up with your monthly payments and know your spending thresholds.
Organic spend should be the only way you use credit cards. If you are only changing what you're spending with, these cards will enhance your travel experience.
One of my goals is to always get a bonus for any spend I have. Sometimes it's annoying to my wife, but hey, it’s all worth it for us at the end! I look to gain points anyway I can. I pay for friends and get money sent after, pay both of our mom’s bills when credit cards allowed and even book trips for friends and family and later get the money back. I let the points add up.
If you're spending more because you earn X amount back for spending but it's out of your spending budget or you're not able to pay your full statement balance monthly, credit cards are not for you right now.
Credit card companies make money every time you swipe their cards. If you carry a balance and pay interest month to month, you're now paying them extra to keep their card instead of gaining rewards and cash back.
Here are the two most frequent heard false tales about credit cards dealing with credit. Let’s cover these two before getting to the fun stuff!
Credit Cards cause Bad Credit
This can go both ways. Good habits with credit cards will get you good credit. At the same time, bad habits will get you bad credit. It’s like having bad food habits will make you unhealthy, while having good food habits will make you healthy.
Over 191 million Americans have credit card debt and most of the time it’s either bad habits or misinformation that got them there.
Don’t fall into the trap. Read the fine print with applications and study whichever card you have your eyes on before making a decision. On this website, I’ll do my best to make sure you have the guide of good credit card behave so this doesn’t happen to you.
Credit Card Use, Hurts My Credit!
When you hear this, it’s usually related to your “credit utilization.” For example, if you have a credit limit of $1,000 and spend $750 that statement cycle, your credit score of 720 will probably drop to something around 705. What people don’t realize or don’t remember is, your credit utilization doesn’t have memory. So, after you pay your $750, your credit score will return to that 720!
This example, and this overall post like most of the post that will be on PYP, is for those who are using credit cards correctly. If you’re not paying your statement balance off monthly, your credit score won’t recover the same and honestly, credit cards are not for you in general.
I’m not trying to judge anyone. Using a credit card as a loan in hard times may seem to be your only option but it’s always a bad idea. Not only does it defeat the purpose of getting travel rewards for your spend but you’re also paying at least double in interest than you should. A personal loan will be much better for you. The worst APR on a personal loan is usually around 18%. Sounds bad, credit cards can have 27% APR and higher. Also, credit companies can change your APR to an even higher percentage when they want to. Balance transfer cards, intro 0% APR cards and personal loans are for those with bad credit or in the need of help with access to cash. Please avoid using credit cards as a loan.
I Don’t Travel…Cashback > Debit
There are many types of credit cards out there. You have many types of credit cards: Travel, Cash Back, Donations, Gas, Cable, Phone, School Fund, Investing, Store and more. Anything you can think of, I’m sure there’s a credit card for it.
If you don’t care about any of the cards I mentioned or don’t want to think about which type a card to use for specific places, at the least, you should have a Cash Back credit card.
Cash Back cards are designed to give you a percentage back in CASH for every cent you spend. The best thing about using Cash Back cards is that you don’t have to think about where to use it. Use it everywhere and get rewarded CASH at the end of every billing cycle.
Reasons Why to use Credit Cards
When using your debit card, you’re literally using your own money. What happens if your card is lost or stolen and someone goes on a shopping spree? If you said your money is gone until you can prove to the police and the bank it wasn’t you, you’re correct!
Using a debit card is money coming directly from your account. You’ll only get back what you can prove was not you. Worst of all, if the person who committed the fraud is not caught, more than likely, you will not receive anything back. Depending how much, taking the bank to court might not be worth it with all the included fees. This process can take weeks to months to years, to prove it wasn’t you. So those bills you need to pay, those companies might not be so understanding.
Now swap that debit card out for a credit card. It’s a completely different situation. When using a credit card, you’re using the credit card companies money first, then you pay it back with your money when the bill comes due. In a lost or stolen situation and then someone goes on a shopping spree, they’re spending the credit card company’s money. Which in return, not only are you protected 100% by law. That company will fight to get it’s money back day and night. Fraud Protection is a huge benefit that goes unnoticed with credit cards! You’re spending with a wall of protection every swipe you take.
When I first got into learning more about credit cards and how to use them in the best way for travel. I was simultaneously learning about how to improve my credit. It begin with understanding billing cycles and knowing when to pay bills and how much to pay. The deeper I dove into using credit cards to enhance travel and started to get more credit cards, I saw that the more my credit limit grew the higher my credit score grew. Since early 2019, I went from a credit score of 664-687 across all apps to now, 803-823!
Baggage Delay Protection
My wife and I had an issue with our bags when landing in JFK and we didn't receive them for 2 days. We were able to purchase $400 worth of items needed for the week (clothing, bathroom accessories, etc.) and American Airlines footed the bill because we used a AAdvantage card. Most Travel credit cards come with all types travel protections and insurances. Choosing the right one can save you hundreds to thousands when unexpected events happen.
Lost/Damaged Baggage Protection
My wife and I received $130 for a damaged suitcase that was on its last legs. A hole was put in the bag by the airline crew at some points. We spoke to our credit card company and all of the sudden we had a check coming our way.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
I’ve used this benefit one time so far. My flight was canceled after being delayed multiple times and the airline put us in a hotel and gave us a $25 food credit. I called American Airlines because I had an AAdvantage card and they reimbursed me for our dinner, breakfast and lunch.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Protection
Last March, my wife had a fully booked itinerary to Japan ($3,000+) non refundable and had to cancel because Japan shutdown all events due Covid. While this wasn’t an eligible reason to cancel by the airline, we called in to American Express and explained we’re worried about traveling there with an covid outbreak. We received all the money back within one week and this was a hassle free task all because we booked with the Platinum Card and the Hilton Aspire. For reference, a friend of hers took a month and multiple phone calls and emails to fight for her money because she booked with a normal Mastercard.
Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident Insurance
Another benefit that not only gives you peace of mind but also saves you tons of money for vacations or short trips because you don’t need to buy insurance every time.
I bought an Apple Watch with the Platinum Card from Best Buy. Decided not to get insurance for some odd reason. Dropped it 80 days later and there was a crack through the middle but nothing so bad that I couldn't use it. I saw a YouTube video talking about the Platinum card protections and realized I might be able to use it. I checked the receipt and saw I had a few days left to act. Called Amex, they said send them proof of purchase. The next day my account was credited with $475, no questions asked. All this while I'm in Italy. I used it the next 5 months or so until I got back to the US to get another one from Best Buy!
I use it monthly but haven't needed it as of yet. Still saving around $170 per year for not needing to add insurance from the company.
So far, I haven't needed this extended warranty but I usually buy more expensive items with the Platinum card to make sure I get the longest extended warranty possible.
This is the main reason I got into Travel credit cards and what intrigues me the most. The perks and benefits you get from Travel credit cards will eventually seem redundant on this blog but here a few major ones:
Airline Priority (spend to get status)
Free Checked Bags
Free Hotel Nights
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Hotel Credits (discounts)
Companion Flight Ticket
Free Room Upgrades
Free Seat Upgrades
Car Rental Insurance
I did not add anything about using Points and Miles because that opens up a whole new conversation. Points and Miles help you save money in a lot of different ways. A couple examples are, Marriott and Hilton give you 1 night free if you book 4 consecutive nights with points. Some airlines give you a percentage of the Miles you used back at the end of the year.
If you’re not big on travel rewards, cash back will put money straight back into your pocket. There’s not much to explain with cash back. Think of every transaction you make with your eligible cash back card is a 1.5 to 4% rebate. Simple as that.
Paying Your Credit Card Monthly
If you’re using your credit card correctly, you can pay your monthly statement on the due date. All you need to do is set up AutoPay and make sure you have enough money in your bank account when the bill is due. It’s very simple and easy to find. You don’t have to pay your full balance ever month, only the portion that is due that month. With AutoPay, it takes the thinking out of it. You won’t miss a bill cycle and therefore, there’s no need to think you’ll forget to pay a bill.
These are some of the main reasons using credit cards make more sense. From benefits to protections, the value with credit cards don’t have a cap. Debit cards are just to move money from your bank account.
***Again, having a credit card that rewards you is only worth having if you can pay your monthly statement in whole each month!***
Until next time, before you pack your bags, don’t forget to PACK YOUR POINTS!
I am not a financial advisor and highly recommend doing your own homework about the credit card you want to apply for! All of the content on my website, page and channel are for entertainment purposes only.
If you’d like my opinion or help in forming an idea of what works, I’m here to help.
Here are REFERRAL LINKS to the credit cards mentioned in today’s post. By using them to apply, you’ll be supporting the website and channel because when approved, I’ll receive bonus points and miles as well!
*Be sure to check the public offer on the credit cards website to compare which is best for you!*
Schwab Platinum Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHImXb?xl=cp105f
Platinum Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/NATASHkCtJ?XLINK=MYCP
Amex Gold Card
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHlYS6?xl=cp105f
Amex Green Card
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHga7A?xl=cp105f
Delta Platinum Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEH7qyc?xl=cp105f
Hilton Honors Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHyfW4?xl=cp105f
Hilton Surpass Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEH60vq?xl=cp105f
Hilton Aspire Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHMKdm?xl=cp105f
United Gateway Card by Chase
Choose any United MileagePlus credit card that is right for you. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card. Learn more.
Bonvoy Bold & Boundless Card by Chase
Earn 3 Free Night Awards with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card or 1 Free Night Award with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for a card. Learn More.
Capital One QuickSilver Card
Bonvoy Business Card by American Express
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!