All the talk about recessions and Brexit can make us feel uneasy about the future, and I think we’ve probably all done a bit of a double take over the last couple of weeks. Already we’ve seen that spending in high-street stores has dropped off considerably since 23 June. Who knows how long it will go on for, but we’re all tightening the purse strings, and with memories of the previous downturn still fresh, the last thing we as individuals want to do is mire ourselves in debt.
The irony is that for all the stigmas attached to debt, it has actually never been cheaper to borrow money, even with a credit card. In fact, used wisely, our credit cards can actually be a great power of good in our lives.
Build your credit score
Something that’s become more and more important in our lives is the need to look after our credit ratings. Contrary to what many think, having no debt or obligations at all in your file is actually bad for your credit score. There are many ways to boost your score, but spending with a credit card is one of them – provided you pay it off.
Borrow at 0%
There are many, many credit cards out there which offer temporary borrowing rates of 0 per cent. In other words, debt which is absolutely free. All you have to do is at least make the minimum repayments during this period, as you will almost certainly be hit with hefty charges if you don’t. You will also need to ensure that you clear the total debt by the conclusion of this period, otherwise you will suddenly be facing extortionate interest rates, usually around 20 per cent.
And if you can’t…
If you run out of time and are still left with a chunk of debt on your card by the end of the 0 per cent period, that’s okay – you do have a couple of options. First of all, you can transfer the outstanding balance onto a new 0 per cent card, and start the cycle again – usually for up to three-and-a-half years. Alternatively, you could get a loan to consolidate the debt and ensure that you get a reasonable rate of interest.
Great credit card perks
So desperate are card companies to have your business that they offer excellent rewards to entice you. Many offer Amazon vouchers, free travel insurance and more. But there’s nothing quite as appealing as cold, hard cash, and some cards offer cashback of up to 5 per cent every time you spend. Pretty hard to knock that!
It’s not just that credit cards are beneficial. For many of us, they’re a must-have. But that’s not a cue to go on a mass shopping spree while swiping the plastic. Part of the deal is maintaining discipline with our spending, and keeping within our means. But the point is that we can’t let the uncertainty going on around us from enjoying our everyday lives, and, provided they are used responsibly, our credit cards can play a small but significant part in ensuring that we get the most enjoyment we can from our hard-earned pennies.