Credit cards can be both a curse and a blessing. If you don’t use them wisely they can lead you into debt and exhaust your monthly income. On the other hand, if you do use them wisely then you can improve your credit rating and improve your monthly cash flow.
Create a Strong Credit History
Using credit cards is a great way to develop a positive credit history. To create a strong credit history you will need to make periodic purchases, and you will need to make on time payments. The best way to do this is to use the credit card to pay for purchases that you would normally make during the month using cash. Then at the end of the month pay off the balance completely. This way you build a positive credit history without accumulating interest charges.
I follow this strategy with my CIBC Visa Aeroplan card. I put everything on it and then pay it off in full at the end of the month. I'm averaging several free flights with Air Canada each year.
Using Credit Cards to Grow Your Business
If you own a business then you can use credit cards to increase your purchase power and improve your company’s cash flow. Credit cards can be used to purchase equipment and supplies when you need them, and then allow you to pay for these items over time. To maximize the benefit of your business credit cards you will want to find credit cards with low interest rates and you will want to pay off the balances as quickly as possible. This will help you keep your line of credit open for business purchases.
This would be an ideal scenario for a low interest rate credit card. I have a Scotiabank Cash Back Visa credit card. I get a small percentage back on my purchases. It's not much but the main point is that the interest rate is very low.
When Not to Use Credit Cards
In addition to knowing when to use your credit cards, you should also learn when you shouldn’t use your credit cards. Credit cards shouldn’t be used when you are emotionally unstable. Impulse buying can be very addictive, and it can lead to serious debt problems. Credit card purchases should optimally be strategically selected. You will also not want to give out your credit card number to unsolicited telemarketers. There are many scams circulating that involve asking for credit card numbers over the phone.
Finally, you don’t want to use your credit card in a country that is known for credit card scams and identity theft. If you will be traveling abroad make sure that you check with the Canadian Consulate in that country about how safe it is to use your credit card in that country.