Time to read: 5 to 6 minutes
In today’s blog, we explain the well-known but underutilised concept of credit cards. A hero for most, a villain for a few(reminds us of Batman, doesn’t it?!) Credit cards are a nifty financial tool if you have a few fixed costs that stand on your head every month. How so? Let us break it down →
The idea is clear; the agenda is set. Today we talk about credit cards. But how about some trivia to begin with? Do you know which is the most valuable ( read: exclusive & fancy) credit card in the world? There are a few jazzy credit cards in store which are superrrrrr valuable; but legend has it that the American Express Centurion Credit Card is the OG, drool-worthy & the most valuable credit card in the world with unparalleled benefits and a social status ranking you among the richest of the rich in the world. It comes with a snazzy-looking jet-black metallic version available only on an invite basis.
Alright then, back to reality everyone!
Breaking down the concept of Credit cards
No doubt, credit cards have become a crucial part of our daily lives, especially for students who are living away from their homes, and studying in the United States. Credit cards not only provide a convenient payment option but offer useful range of benefits and incentives that can help students save money + build credit. The fundamentals of owning and using credit cards are pretty straightforward >>
Simply put, credit cards are a type of payment card that allows users to borrow money from a financial institution, up to a certain limit, to make purchases. The user is required to pay back the borrowed amount, along with interest and other fees, within a specified period.
Let’s say Amit applies for a credit card, his application is judged by the bank on a few parameters and based on them, awards him with an eligible credit limit and a corresponding card. This card will come with a range of features and benefits, such as rewards points, cash back, travel miles, and more, that incentivises Amit to use it for his everyday expenses. He gets a credit cycle of 25-50 days, depending on the bank he’s chosen.
How does it help me, as a student?
Our friend Amit, who we just spoke about – studies at Rutgers University. He landed in New Jersey in 2016 and has pursued his Bachelor’s & Master’s here. Being new to the environment, he was naturally sceptical about managing his finances off the bat. One of his biggest concerns was how he would pay for his expenses without any source of income initially. Cut to one week later, his faculty and dorm mates recommended he get a credit card and chalk out his expenses better. He applied for a student credit card and received approval within a few days.
You see, this very card that Amit applied for, came with rewards that immensely benefitted him in the long run. Amit has been here for nearly 7 years now! Firstly, the card offered a cashback reward for every purchase made. This meant that he could earn some money back every time he used the card to buy something. So far, he has used his credit card to buy textbooks for himself and his friends over the semesters, which had cost him around $4000. With the cashback reward, he received $200 back, which was a great bonus for him.
Secondly, the credit card has helped Amit build a credible credit history, which is important since he wanted to apply for loans (or credit) in the future. By using the card responsibly and making timely payments, he has established a good credit score and has now gotten an automobile loan, Exciting right 💪🏼
The point here is, credit cards offer nifty features that are particularly helpful for students! One of the primary reasons for the widespread adoption of credit cards in the USA is the convenience they offer. With credit cards, users can make purchases online, in-store, or over the phone, without the need for cash or checks. This makes it easy for students to pay for their daily expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and entertainment, without carrying large amounts of cash around with them. Add to this – benefits. Credit cards also offer a range of benefits and crazy incentives that can be especially valuable for students. For example, many credit cards offer cash-back rewards on purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, which can help students save money on their everyday expenses. Some credit cards also offer some never-seen-before travel rewards, and airline miles or hotel points, that can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, and other travel-related expenses. Do you remember the jazzy little Centurion Card we spoke about? It offers you Hilton Diamond Status: The highest level of Hilton status, it earns suite upgrades, late checkout, breakfast benefits and enhanced earnings on paid stays. And this is just ONE of the benefits!
Did you know?
✳️ According to a report by the Federal Reserve, there are over 500 million credit card accounts in the USA (as of 2020)
A detailed study tells us that 68% of Americans have at least one credit card, and 29% have three or more credit cards. ( survey by: National Foundation for Credit Counselling
Boy, I am convinced. But how do I make the most of it?
Vibing with credit cards is easy. You can get a LOT of use cases to put your credit cards to work and earn for you. Here are a few ways we suggest →
- Use your credit card to pay for your Netflix, Hulu and other streaming service subscriptions. Watch your favourite shows + earn rewards! Easy, simple, and convenient.
- Use your credit card to pay for groceries and earn rewards points or cash back. You can also use the credit card to pay your restaurant bills and earn rewards points or cash-back.
- Get early access or a discount on amazing concert tickets. Is Post Malone performing in your town? Want to buy tickets to Lollapalooza which is happening next month? Credit Cards offer discounts, early access and even additional privileges that make you feel like a VIP.
- Optimally utilise your credit card to pay for your flight tickets when you travel back to India for holidays or vacations. What’s more? You can earn travel rewards or airline miles that can help you save money on future flights.
However, as all things go, being responsible is key. It is important to note that credit cards can also come with risks and drawbacks. If not used properly, credit cards can lead to debt, high-interest rates, and other fees. Students need to use credit cards responsibly and only spend within their means. Additionally, students should be aware of the fine print that credit cards offer – such as interest rates, fees, and rewards, to make informed decisions about their usage.
The story of credit cards has so far been in favour of Indian students in the USA. Plenty o’uses, plenty o’benefits but the undeniable advantage is that cards help you manage expenses better. And then there is a whole other conversation about exclusivity and aspirational appeal that a few credit cards offer. We also spoke about how students need to use their credit cards responsibly and make timely payments to avoid accumulating debt and negatively impacting their credit scores. Hold on, If you have read till here, then you are in for good good good news! Our Global Credit card is here (and you can read more about it on our blog here ) with a bunch of benefits and zero forex markup on international payments! That is what we call a win-win, folks 🙌🏼