Credit Cards 101

Go beyond credit card basics and learn how to use your credit card responsibly. From interest to rewards, we'll teach you everything you need to know about using credit cards.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to use a credit card?

    The best way to use a credit card is to maximize its value while avoiding interest payments. In most cases, this means using credit cards that offer the most rewards and perks for your spending while making sure you pay off your balance each month to eliminate interest charges.

  • Should you have more than one credit card?

    Yes, if you want to keep your credit card usage as simple as possible. However, if you're comfortable using multiple cards, you can sharpen your credit-card rewards strategy and decrease your utilization ratio.

  • Are travel cards worth the annual fee?

    Yes, if you know how to maximize your rewards, redeem them, and take advantage of the card's perks. In most cases, the perks and rewards-earning potential of the best travel rewards cards far exceed the annual fee you pay to use the card.

  • Can credit cards build credit?

    Yes, but you have to be smart about how you use your card. Credit scores emphasize your payment history and your credit utilization. So, when you open a new credit card, you should pay off your all purchases and fees each month by your due date to ensure you don't carry a balance and that you don't pay late.

  • Are there purchases you shouldn't make with credit cards?

    Yes, there are several purchases you should make with your credit card, including: purchases that you can't afford, put you over your credit limit, or that could shift your utilization from below 30% to above 30%.

Key Terms

Explore Credit Cards 101

A businessman looks over the details of his fintech bank account.
Is That Flashy Card You’re Looking at Really Worth It?
A man's friends finally pay their share of the bill from the previous evening's adventures.
How To Use Amex Send & Split
A shopper buys a gift for a friend through PayPal rewards.
Should You Redeem Credit Card Rewards Through PayPal?
A PayPal Pay in 4 user makes a purchase.
What Is PayPal Pay in 4?
A shopper makes a mobile purchase with PayPal Key.
What Was PayPal Key?
A couple drives a rental while on vacation in Colorado.
You Rented a Car Using Rewards Points—Do You Still Need Insurance?
A woman does an at-home workout through a paid streaming service her credit card discounts.
Credit Cards That Offer Fitness Perks and Rewards
A shopper considers signing up for a 0% offer to financing her holiday shopping.
Should You Use a Credit Card 0% Deal for Holiday Expenses?
Smiling young woman works on laptop at dining room table
How Credit Card Points Can Boost Your Bank Account Balance
A credit card customer considers his donation options.
Should You Donate Credit Card Rewards?
A consumer weighs her options for 0% credit card offers.
Should You Open a Card With a 0% APR Offer?
A woman at a cafe table considers how she should pay for her latte: credit account or credit card?
PayPal Credit vs. PayPal Cashback Mastercard: What's the Difference?
A graphic saying Our Money's on Travel overlays a view of Greek islands at sunset
How to Budget for a Trip
Gay couple at home using internet and laptop to buy online
Credit Card Churning
A clothing store merchant accepts credit card payment.
Credit Card Issuer
A young woman in an airport by the arrivals and departures screen
How Credit Card Miles Work and How You Can Earn Them
Man running from credit card
The Simple Way to Avoid a Finance Charge on Your Credit Card
A young woman is shopping online with smartphone and credit card in hand.
Credit Card Preapproval
A gender fluid person having a discussion with their friend while having coffee in a cafe.
What Are Credit Card Issuer True Name Policies?
A woman shops online with a credit card.
Where To Use Your Chase Freedom Card in 2022
a man making a bank transaction with credit card
Buying a Money Order With a Credit Card Treated Like Cash Advance
A woman wearing an apron standing near an espresso machine inserts a chip card into a handheld chip-card reader.
Chip Card
Hand Getting Cash From ATM
Credit Card Cash Advance: Definition from the Credit Glossary
Learn about the Chase Freedom card and how it earns 1% cash back on every purchase and up to 5% on purchases in quarterly categories.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide: How To Earn and Use Points
Just Moved? Four Ways To Ensure Your Statements Get to Your New Address
Woman looking at a credit card statement with expression of disbelief
What To Do About Bogus Charges on Your Credit Card
Woman using credit card at computer
Is Your Credit Card Still Active? Here's How to Find Out
Image shows someone cutting a credit card in half. Text reads: "Steps to take before closing your credit card: use up credit card rewards; follow up with a letter of request to close the card; pay off the balance; check credit report after a few weeks to make sure the account has been closed; contact card issuer's customer service (record the date and time of the conversation)"
6 Steps to Close a Credit Card Correctly
Mother and daughter shopping online with credit card
Adding an Authorized User on a Credit Card
Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, with an illustrated overlay that reads, “Our Money’s on Travel.”
How To Fund a Trip to Disney World With Credit Card Points
A couple strolls the aisle of a grocery store.
How To Get the Most Out of Discover’s 2022 Cash-Back Calendar
American Airlines Boeing 737-800
American Airlines AAdvantage Guide: How To Earn and Use Miles
A top view of a person sitting on the floor surrounded by their credit card bills and a laptop, deciding between a balance transfer and a debt consolidation loan
Credit Card Balance Transfer vs. Debt Consolidation Loan
Woman using a credit card after filling out a credit application and being approved
How To Apply for a Credit Card
credit cards that could be used for balance transfers
Get the Basics of Credit Card Balance Transfers
A woman smiles.
How to Give Less of Your Money to Your Credit Card Company
a stack of credits cards resting on a $20 bill
Here Is a Look at the Advantages of Using a Credit Card vs Cash
Image shows a wallet with cash, a credit card, and a generic ID inside. Text reads: "What to know about credit card refunds: credit card refunds are not immediate—it's just an authorization; while your refund is pending; your credit card issuer puts a hold on those funds so you don't spend that money somewhere else; the actual refund doesn't post to your account for a few days; depending on the point in the billing cycle that your refund is processed, you may still have to make your credit card payment; returning an item that gave you rewards points will affect your rewards balance"
Everything You Should Know About Credit Card Refunds
A woman pays credit card bills using a tablet
A Simple Explanation of Your Credit Card Grace Period
7 Sample Letters for Dealing with Your Biggest Credit Problems
credit card on venmo
Using a Credit Card on Venmo
Paying credit card bill
Important Credit Card Dates You Should Know About
Image shows someone watching their card get declined at a register when they're trying to buy a pair of shoes. Text reads: "5 reasons your credit card declined: you don't have enough available credit; your account is closed; your payment is past due; your credit card has expired; your account has been flagged"
What You Should Do When Your Credit Card Is Declined
Side view of businessman holding credit card while using laptop at airport.
What You Need To Know About the Priority Pass Airport Lounge Program
Calling the credit card issuer
Remove an Authorized User from Your Credit Card With This Simple Step.
Portrait of content woman sitting on couch using laptop and credit card
Here's How To Find Your Credit Card's CVV Code
Given the density and thickness of the metal credit card, shredders and scissors won’t work.
How To Destroy a Metal Credit Card
Woman looks at a pyramid built from too many credit cards
You Might Have Too Many Credit Cards — Here's How to Tell
Person on couch using laptop and credit card
Can I Dispute a Credit Card Charge I Willingly Paid For?
Smiling couple paying bill through laptop on dining table at home
How Do Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits Apply to Authorized Users?
Woman paying for jewelry with contactless payment technology in a clothes store
Can You Use Your Credit Card To Get Cash Without a Fee?
How to Increase Your Limit on Your First Credit Card: Pay bills on time Don’t max out your card Wait for six months of timely payments before requesting an increase
What's a Good Credit Limit on a First Credit Card?
Golden credit card
Beginner's Guide to Using Credit the Right Way
Young woman uses her credit card to make a purchase on her phone.
What Are the Differences Among Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express?
Person using a card terminal to purchase a haircut at salon
Void Transaction
Stack of credit cards on account of value in red
The Benefits and Risks of Having Too Many Credit Cards
A woman cuts up a credit card
How to Write a Letter to Close Your Credit Card
Three students raise their hands, each grasping a credit card, while in the background, a teacher standing before a blackboard looks on with a bemused expression.
10 Tips for Using Your First Credit Card
a woman cuts up a credit card
Learn How to Remove Yourself as an Authorized User on a Credit Card.
Assortment of Visa cards with different perks
Visa Signature vs. Visa Infinite: What’s the Difference?

Credit Cards 101:

More in Credit Cards: