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What is the purpose of using a credit card if they are so dangerous, besides renting cars? In the afore-mentioned book it simply said “for convenience”, but using debit cards/check cards you seem to get the same convenience as a credit card?

The simple answer is that it allows you to buy something today and pay for it tomorrow. They are convenient in that you do not have to carry lots of cash around or write a lot of checks, the former being dangerous and the latter potentially being costly depending on your checking account features.

I heard somewhere that you can build up your credit with credit cards, but that you have to have a balance in your account for an extended period of time that you pay on. With high interest rates I am not sure I like that option. Is this true? Is there any other “safer” way to build up credit?

It is true that a history of clean credit card use can build credit that will qualify you for the best rates when applying for a mortgage or auto loan. It is not true that you need to carry a balance on your card. While not paying finance charges may make the CC issuer cringe, it demonstrates responsible use of credit, which is what a lender wants to see.

If you want to understand your credit better, start with one of the free credit reports available. For an extra few bucks you can get your credit score and see just what a potential creditor sees in you.

Who does not know anything about the Fool CC...
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