More than 80 percent of average American households have at least one credit card. Studies show that most credit card users tend to carry at least 4 to 5 cards, issued from different banks.

The obvious advantage of using your credit card to make a purchase is the convenience of having buying power. The problem with this convenience is that it can easily be abused and most people end up in debt after misusing credit cards and overspending. This does not mean that credit cards are demons to stay away from. Instead, consider them a privilege of having money anytime and at any place. If this privilege is used responsibly, there are many benefits to be gained from using credit cards to spend.

1. Start-up Bonus

Most credit card companies offer cards with significant start-up or sign-up bonuses associated with it. In contrast, a debit card offers no rewards or significantly smaller rewards. Some credit card companies have a look at your existing credit score and offer you cash sign-up bonuses worth $50 or more. Others offer pre-accumulated points that can then be redeemed for purchases.

2. Get Your Money Back

Cash back and reward cards offer you about 1-5 percent of the money you spend back to you. Many credit card owners are derisive of this facility because the amount offered back is quite small in comparison with the purchases but the thing to consider is that if you were to have used your debit card, not even that small amount would have found its way back to your checking account.

3. Budget Your Expenses

As long as you pay off your balance in full every single month, your credit card can be a marvelous way to budget your expenses and have an itemized list of all your outgoing expenditures. This master receipt will tell you where you are spending your money because most credit card companies allow a grouping together of expenditures under specific headings such as dining, retail, utilities, and entertainment spending, and so on. Knowing your spending patterns will allow you to make the changes that you need to make in them.

4. Frequent Flyer Miles

For those Americans who make frequent trips or even a sure shot trip once a year, frequent flyer miles can be an amazing benefit of using credit cards. Whatever amount you spend on your card, most credit card companies associated with airlines will allow you to earn one mile per dollar or per two dollars spent. Accumulating and redeeming these miles could mean an airline ticket at little or no additional cost. Frequent flyer miles credit cards generally offer a generous amount of mileage as a sign-up bonus. Some of these bonuses are substantial enough to put you on the path to paying for more than 50 percent of a flight within the span of a couple of months.

5. Shopping with Points

When you start to pay your utility and other bills using your credit card, card rewards points will accumulate in your account. It is paramount that you understand that the only way you can attain the best of your card is to ensure that you pay off the balance of your credit card every single month consistently. This will ensure that you do not end up spending any extra money on the steep interest rates decreed by the credit card companies. However, once you enter into the prudent habit of paying your card off on time, you are free to use the benefits that only credit cards can offer you. Finish your Christmas shopping by using the accumulated points at stores that accept it. You can also redeem the points for gift cards to selected stores and make your birthday and holiday shopping less expensive.

6. Safety First

In today’s day and age, no one is seen carrying loads of cash in their wallets. If your debit card is used fraudulently, the money is gone from your account immediately. Though the fraudulent transactions will most likely be reversed, this may take a while leaving you low on liquid funds or cash. With credit cards, this is not something that you really have to worry about; all credit cards carry fraud protection and even if you do become a victim of fraudulent activity, it is simply a matter of letting the credit card company know about it. You won’t lose any real cash in this situation.

7. For Your Credit Scores

Using your credit card responsibly works in the favor of your credit scores and makes you a credit worthy individual thus facilitating any loan process you engage in. Of course, the irresponsible use of a credit card does the exact opposite and your scores will take a hit every time you miss a payment or default over a period of time.

8. Customer Protection

The benefits associated with credit cards are yours for free as long as you pay off the balance on time. Consumer protection options such as rental car insurance, longer product warranties, and travel insurance are, in most cases, automatically applied if you pay using your card.

9. Wherever You Go

The convenience of using credit cards can be felt completely when you end up needing to purchase something outside the country. Merchants in foreign countries may or may not accept your debit cards even if they are issued by reputed banks in the United States. Despite this and for the most part, credit cards have international and universal acceptance and as such, purchasing goods or paying for services using a credit card is infinitely easy.

10. Grace Period

If you miss out on important utility or loan payments, this will put you in the red zone. Yes, this is where the term default comes into the picture. If you paid these items off using your credit card and for some reason, cannot make the credit card payment on time, most credit card companies offer a few days known as a Grace Period, during which you are not charged any interest.

Credit cards offer many benefits for responsible users. The operative words here are: be responsible.

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