Millennials are different. Skinnier jeans than other generations? Probably. Credit card users? Probably not. According to a Bankrate survey, about two thirds of millennials don’t own one.
This makes the “good with money” crowd howl. They know how to work credit cards. Like how to avoid debt and pesky late fees. You should too.
Trick one — only buy what you can already afford. Then pay your bill in full and on time. Bingo, you are treating your plastic like real money. Not brain surgery, but maybe not as easy it sounds (quick plug — until Debitize came along!).
So here are the top 10 reasons why millennials should squeeze a credit card into their jean pockets:
1. Cash back & Rewards
Take what you spend and multiply it by 2%. That’s how much cash you are throwing away by using debit instead of cash-back credit cards. Plus that debit card earns you zero rewards. Zilch. No free flights, hotel rooms, gift cards, Amazon credit, absolutely no cool stuff. Debit 0, Credit 1.
2. Build credit
Mortgages, rental agreements, and car leases all require a credit score. Good luck if you one of the 56% of US consumers with subprime credit scores or a limited credit history. You could be on the hook for tens of thousands of additional dollars. All very silly when all it takes is using a credit card responsibly and paying your bill on to improve your credit. Read our blog series about understanding your credit score to see how your FICO score is calculated. Rather watch the Bachelor? Bad move. Building your credit is more important (but admittedly not as cringe-worthy). It takes time, so step back from the remote and start now.
3. Better security
Lost a debit card or had it stolen? In all likelihood, it’s adios to your dinero. Your bank will probably not help you if you don’t report it right away. Plus, you won’t have access to your funds until the bank rectifies things. Not the case with a credit card. Your bank should have you covered.
4. Extended warranties
That 1 year warranty on your MacBook? Could be two years if you purchase it with a credit card. Many credit card companies extend the manufacturer’s warranty by another year – one of the lesser known and underutilized benefits of credit cards.
5. Purchase protection
Similarly, you may be reimbursed if a purchase you made with the card is lost or stolen within 90 days. It saved my bacon when a new laptop was stolen from my doorstep. Or, if you’re having second thoughts about the cashmere doggie sweater you bought on a whim, but the store won’t take it back? Many credit cards offer return protection. Even for pooch indulgences.
6. Holds on your account don’t tie up your funds
Most gas stations, hotels, and car rental agencies put a hold on your account for longer than just your purchase. If you use debit, those are funds you won’t have access to until the hold clears. That’s usually a few days.
7. Rental car protection
That expensive collision insurance rental car companies try to sell you is likely already covered, for free, if you use your credit card to pay for the rental.
8. Travel protection
Many credit cards also offer protection if you have to cancel your trip, if your baggage is lost or delayed, or your flight is delayed or canceled – even in situations due to weather where the airline will not reimburse you. You can even get free emergency roadside car assistance. Debit cards? Afraid not.
9. Price protection
See that brand new TV you just bought on sale somewhere else for less? Your credit card may reimburse you the difference.
10. Exclusive invites and perks
Your card may offer other perks, including concert ticket pre-sales, special discounts and offers, or access to exclusive events just for cardholders. Also, many travel cards come with perks such as elite status for a hotel chain, or early boarding privileges with the airline.
Each credit card is different. Make sure you check the terms and conditions (boring but well worthwhile) and find one that is good for you. Try to avoid ones with annual fees (unless you plan to take full advantage of other perks).