Holidays Highlight Perks of Credit Card Use [AUDIO]
This could be the worst advice you ever receive, depending on what you do with it.
According to some consumer and finance experts, the last few months of the year can be the best time to use a credit card for purchases. Many cards offer perks that seem even more advantageous during the holidays.
Offerings vary by card, but some potential benefits include:
- Extended warranties on your purchases
- Price protection - a refund if you find a product at a lower price after already purchasing it
- Support and proof if a product is damaged or never shows up in the mail
- Cash back and reward points
Michael Kay, president of Financial Focus in Livingston, agreed that credit cards can certainly have their advantages, but overuse is a common mistake by consumers.
"As we approach the holiday season, there is this enthusiasm for giving and spending. What a lot of consumers wind up with in January is a whole lot of regret and bills that they really can't afford to handle," Kay said. "It's too easy to get swept away into the spirit of the holiday and wind up in financial trouble."
His advice for shoppers using credit - approach the holidays with a budget and try to borrow only what you can pay back.
While the major cards are being promoted as a holiday helper, the same can't be said for cards meant for individual stores.
Kay explained, "The department store credit cards carry some really high interest rates, and they have some significant penalties for late payments."
The offer may be tempting, such as 20 percent off your current order if you sign up now, but Kay said the consequences will eventually outweigh the benefits.
As a smart consumer, one can take advantage of the perks offered by credit cards, but one must also be aware of billing cycles, keep track of receipts and read all the fine print.