What can I use my credit card for?

You can use your credit card for all sorts of payments - this includes in shops, online, to pay bills and for large, one-off purchases too. As long as you stay below your limit, you can use your credit card in pretty much the same places you’d use your debit card.

4 min read
Woman inputting credit card details onto laptop

What can I pay for with a credit card?

Providing you stick within your credit limit, you can quite literally use your plastic to pay for almost anything you want - holidays, food shops, cars, clothes, bills, the lot.

The only things you can’t cover with a credit card include most mortgage payments, gambling, stock, and anything that’s illegal.

When shouldn’t I pay with my credit card?

If you’d be stretching yourself financially. Your credit limit is just that, a limit, so just because you’ve got access to let’s say £1,500, it doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. You’ll be charged interest on anything you don’t repay by your due date, so if something’s not within your budget - now or in the near future - it’s probably best to hold off.

It’s also worth considering that some companies will charge a fee for paying with a credit card, so always check this first and decide if you’d rather pay with your credit card or use another method.

Top tips on what to buy with your credit card

1. Supermarket shopping

Whether you use a supermarket’s own credit card or one from another credit provider, using them to pay for your weekly food shop comes with a number of benefits.

For starters, if you find you are eligible for the right card you can get access to lots of great rewards - like cashback and air miles - so you get more bang for your buck every time you spend on it.

On top of that, because activities like your food shop are pretty routine, providing you make at least your minimum payments each month, you’ll be able to consistently prove you’re a responsible borrower and build your credit score over time.

2. Household bills

These can be another handy expense to put on your credit card, and given you have to pay for them either way, why not reap some rewards while you’re at it?

“Tip: To make sure a bill doesn’t go unnoticed, consider setting up a direct debit so the money’s automatically taken out on time each month. ”

As with your shopping trip, this is also a form of regular spending, giving you another opportunity to demonstrate your money management skills month in, month out. So, if you’ve got broadband, electricity, gas or phone bills to your name, now could be the time to switch the billing source to your credit card. Do check if a company charges an extra fee for paying with a credit card before you commit.

While we’re on the subject of subscription-based expenses, think outside of those essential items too - things like gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, Netflix and Spotify also qualify.

3. Holiday deposit

Want to get away but can’t afford the lump sum deposit right off the bat? Credit cards are your saviour. By putting the cost on your plastic you can bag the holiday there and then and then repay the amount later in the same month, or over a period of a few months.

Remember: If you don’t clear the balance before your due date you’ll be charged interest on whatever amount’s outstanding, adding to the overall expense of the deposit. Always borrow and spend responsibly.

4. Petrol top-ups

You can probably see a trend emerging here, but petrol/diesel is yet another reoccurring expense (for those of you that drive, anyway) and therefore another potential use for your credit card.

For those that don’t own or drive a car, you could put the price of bus or train tickets on it instead. But remember...we said it once and we’ll say it again, just make sure you repay your balance in full to avoid paying for your petrol plus interest.

5. Big-ticket items

Credit cards can offer financial protection for your purchases, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you buy something between £100 and £30,000 with your credit card and something goes wrong, you may be able to make a claim to either the supplier or your credit card provider.

Don’t forget…

Because you’re spending money that doesn’t come out of your account right away, credit cards can be dangerous if you don’t keep on top of how much you’re putting on them. So, to make sure you don’t start spending willy-nilly and more than you can afford, work out how much you can comfortably repay each month and then aim to stay well within that.

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.