Here’s What To Buy With A Credit Card To Build Credit & What To Avoid, According To Experts

Building credit is important for when you want to buy a house or a car. Having good credit will also offer you lower interest rates when you want to get another credit card or apply for a loan. However, if you’re new to having a credit card, it can be hard knowing what to buy with a credit card to build credit. On the flip side, you might also be wondering what items you should not purchase with a credit card when you’re starting out. For all these questions you may have, Elite Daily reached out to experts at Bank of America and Credit Karma for their advice.

Of course, the first thing you’re thinking when you get a credit card is probably not “what should I spend my credit card on to build credit?” Instead, you’re thinking of which cute ‘fits and must-have items for your home you need to add to your shopping cart. Or, if you’re worried about your payments, you may be too scared to break out your credit card when shopping. Credit Karma’s Chief People Officer, Colleen McCreary, tells Elite Daily, “People often assume that using credit cards will negatively impact their credit score. However, that’s not typically the case. In fact, in order to build credit, you have to prove you’re able to borrow responsibly and that typically starts with a credit card. ”

When it comes to figuring out ways to use your credit card wisely, experts say there are some key things you can buy with a credit card to build credit and help you out in the future. You just need to know what those things are. For anyone wondering, “Should I use my credit card for everything,” here are some credit card tips that’ll help answer that for you.

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Jason Gaughan, Bank of America’s Head of Unsecured Products, tells Elite Daily that payment history makes up the largest part of a credit score. Taking this into consideration, Gaughan says, “It is important to always pay your bills on time – even if it is just the minimum payment.” Gaughan also recommends that you always spend within your means.

Therefore, purchasing things you spend money on monthly may be a great way to start building credit, such as your groceries. McCreary says, “When starting out, it’s best to purchase things you can pay back within 30 days.” Since you already have factored in your groceries to your monthly budget, you know you have the money to pay off whatever you buy.

Just like your groceries, Gaughan also recommends gas as one of those everyday purchases within your budget for things you can buy with a credit card. You could even get some perks from using your credit card on these purchases. “For example, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers cardholders 3% cash back on purchases in a category of their choice each month, which can help you put some cash back in your wallet while building credit responsibly,” Gaughan shares. If you drive a lot, just choose “gas” as one of your categories.

However, McCreary warns, “If you’re able to get a credit card that offers rewards, make sure you understand how to get the most out of your rewards card.” So, if you have a card that’s for travel, use it only on travel. Since gas may factor into that, you’ll want to double check that it qualifies so you can get the most out of your purchase.

If you’re wondering about what items should you not purchase with a credit card, Gaughan says to “avoid putting big ticket items on your credit card if your credit limit is low.” You want to stay within your means and “if you’re making expensive purchases such as paying rent … on your credit card, this may cause you to have a higher utilization rate, which will negatively impact your credit score.”

While your rent may be something you want to avoid for right now, you can always pay off some of your utilities with your credit card. While you’re starting out, you may not want to have every utility on your credit card, but things like your electricity or water bill are a great start. McCreary suggests starting small and get comfortable with your payment schedule before increasing the amount of debt you take on.

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If you’re someone who treats themselves to a coffee from Starbucks or your favorite corner cafe each week, that might be a great everyday purchase to add to your credit card. You can easily pay off that $ 5 latte. However, make sure you’re actually paying off what you can.

“Remember that you’ll eventually have to pay back every dollar you spend, plus any interest and fees charged by your credit card company if you don’t pay the initial balance back in full before it’s due,” McCreary warns. “If you fail to pay back your credit card debt, you could face steep interest and penalty charges – not to mention the damage to your credit scores that could follow you for a long time.”

Another small monthly expense that you’re already paying for that could be a good addition to your credit card is a streaming service. McCreary says, “In general, it’s good to start out using credit for small, recurring expenses, like a monthly subscription … and paying it off every month.” So, go ahead and pay for your Netflix, Disney +, or Spotify with your credit card.

One more recurring expense McCreary suggests is your gym membership. You’ve already determined it’s within your budget, and McCreary says as long as you’re staying within that budget, “you’ll never have to choose between paying your credit card bill and covering necessities.” So, go ahead and build credit off of your workouts.

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Irregular Purchases Within Your Budget

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If you’re wondering, “should I use my credit card for everything,” Gaughan cautions against this. He says that while your credit card can be used for a wide-range of purchases, “what is most important is practicing responsible spending habits like only making purchases you know you can afford and paying off your credit card balance on-time and in- full. ”

If you know you can afford it, that does include irregular purchases every once in awhile. When you’re about to purchase some concert tickets or a cute top you saw while online shopping, it’s great to ask yourself, “What should I spend my credit card on to build credit that is within my budget right now?” If you know you can quickly pay it off, that new Rare Beauty drop or Insta-worthy cocktail at happy hour may just be one of the things to buy with your credit card to build credit.

While these are all great things to buy with your credit card to build credit when you’re first starting out, you may also want to use some of the tools provided to you by your bank for a more personal plan. Gaughan recommends Better Money Habits for any Bank of America users. It’s “a free financial education platform from Bank of America, available to everyone, that offers a wide range of financial tips and guidance – including building credit.”

Also as an additional tip for building credit, McCreary encourages anyone “to keep your credit utilization below 30%.” You don’t want to max out your card like you’re Cher in Clueless. Instead, use it when you need it and you’ll have a credit score that’s worth bragging about.

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