Designed to offer access to credit, credit cards in their most basic form allow you to buy things you want now, to then pay for them later. But that doesn’t mean they’ve not got more to offer. In this guide, we’ll look closely at what features and benefits you can expect from your credit card, as well as the various drawbacks that can come with credit card use.
Credit card features can range from basic to extravagant, with premium and rewards cards typically offering more in the way of features than low cost options such as low fee and low rate cards. Here are some credit card features to look out for.
Introductory offers are designed to entice new cardholders. Used correctly, they can provide additional functionality and value to the card. The main types of introductory offer include:
Purchase offers, which allow cardholders to pay a much lower rate of interest on purchases over an introductory period, offering excellent interest savings on spending big and small.
Balance transfer offers, which let cardholders transfer a balance from their existing credit card to pay a lower rate, saving them on interest and allowing them to pay off what they owe much faster.
Bonus point offers, which provide a chunk of bonus points to cardholders, typically under the condition that they spend a certain amount on the card within a given period.
Annual fee offers, which waive or reduce the annual fee or account fee either over an introductory period, or after meeting a minimum spend each year.
Rewards cards allow cardholders to earn points on their card spending, which can then be redeemed within a retail rewards programme or frequent flyer programme. As long as you earn more back in rewards than you pay out in annual fees or account fees, these cards can provide fantastic value and some really useful extras.
Depending on the type of card on offer, it may provide any of the following common features.
Travel Insurance: A common extra on premium cards and frequent flyer cards, complimentary travel insurance can provide essential cover on medical expenses, personal belongings and travel delays, helping cardholders save time and money searching for standalone cover.
Lounge Access: Cardholders can travel in style with access to airport lounges the world over.
Travel Perks: These can range from complimentary hotel stays and flight upgrades to airport limo transfers and VIP meet & greets, which all work to make travel more enjoyable and easier to manage.
Concierge Service: Premium cards often provide access to a concierge service, acting as a kind of personal assistant to cardholders needing help with travel bookings, restaurant reservations, gift buying, theatre recommendations, and so on.
Low Fee Credit Cards
Typically basic, these cards charge a low annual fee or account fee, allowing cardholders to keep outgoing costs to a minimum, while still benefiting from access to credit.
Low Rate Credit Cards
Offering a low rate on purchases, these cards help to keep interest costs down for cardholders who tend to carry a balance.
Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Providing an introductory offer on balance transfers, these cards allow cardholders to save on interest as they pay down their balance faster.
Rewards Credit Cards
Earning either retail rewards, frequent flyer points or cashback, these cards let cardholders get something back on their card spending.
Premium Credit Cards
Offering cardholders a range of additional features, these cards are usually tiered gold, platinum or black.
Whether you are new to credit or you are a seasoned veteran, the right credit card can offer any number of benefits. Depending on what you’re looking for in a card, you could benefit from the following.
Buy Now, Pay Later
One of the main advantages of having a credit card is the ability it provides to buy what you want now, to pay it off later.
Access Interest Free Credit
By being smart with your card, you can take advantage of credit without paying any interest. Utilise your card’s interest free period to buy the things you need, and pay them all off by the due date to enjoy interest free credit.
While big spenders tend to benefit most from rewards earning, almost any cardholder can enjoy something back on their spending by choosing the right rewards card – and using it correctly. Whether it’s a flight or a spending spree, your rewards could get you there.
Access Helpful Features
Features and extras can add value to any credit card, as long as they are well-used by the cardholder. Whether they save you the hassle of shopping around for standalone travel insurance, or provide a more relaxing journey thanks to complimentary airport lounge access, your card’s extras could be well worth having.
Utilise Introductory Offers
Intro offers can add serious value, allowing cardholders to pick up bonus points, save on interest, or try a card on for size while paying no annual fee.
Helpful In An Emergency
Even if you don’t use your credit card very often, it can be handy to have in case of emergency. With a no annual fee card in your wallet, you can cover those unexpected costs whenever, wherever.
Build Your Credit Rating
Used correctly, a credit card can help you build your credit rating. This could be invaluable when you want to apply for more serious credit in the future, such as car loans and home loans.
Learn How To Handle Credit
Using a credit card, you can get used to accessing credit and paying it all off, helping you to build a better relationship with credit over time.
Pay Down Debt
If you have credit card debt that you want to pay off, a balance transfer card could allow you to save big on interest, while you work on paying down your debt faster.
Just as there are advantages to having a credit card, there are also drawbacks. However, with a proper understanding of how credit cards work, you can work to avoid them.
Temptation to Overspend
With credit at your fingertips, it can be tempting to spend what you cannot pay back. Learning how to budget, and reducing your credit limit could help you avoid this.
Get In Over Your Head
Continuing to overspend while not paying off your balance each month can lead to problems with debt. Get smart with your credit card by reading our guides, and consider the benefits of a balance transfer offer to get back on an even keel.
Something you need to know? Ask a our credit card expert a question.Ask a question