Can I Use a Credit Card for That? Should I?

Considerations when using a credit card depend on whether you could just as easily pay cash or you need to use credit because you otherwise couldn't afford the expense.

Paul SoucySeptember 30, 2020
On a similar note...
On a similar note...
Can I Use a Credit Card for That? Should I?

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NerdWallet has long recommended putting most purchases on credit cards. Used wisely, credit cards can offer lucrative rewards, allow you to finance a purchase without interest and provide valuable consumer protections. If you spend within your means and you pay your balance in full every month, using credit cards for purchases is usually better than paying with cash, debit or check.

But there's a big difference between using credit cards to buy specific items like a restaurant meal, clothing or a new refrigerator and using them as an open-ended funding source for things like starting a business, paying rent or financing medical care. When you're thinking about using a credit card for something that you could just as easily pay for with cash, the considerations are different from when you're thinking about putting an expense on a card because you otherwise couldn't afford it.

At NerdWallet, we've heard many, many questions that start with "Can I use a credit card to ...?" or "I know I can, but should I use a credit card to ...?" No single answer will apply to every person in every situation, but we've written about dozens of scenarios in which people may be looking to a credit card as a viable option or as a last resort.

Jump ahead to:

Can I Use a Credit Card for ... Housing?

Housing

Can I Use a Credit Card for ... Transportation?

Transportation

Health care

Can I Use a Credit Card for ... Education?

Kids and education

Should I Use a Credit Card for ... Big Purchases?

Finances

Entrepreneurship

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