Want to Build Credit Using Cards but Worried About Getting Into Debt? Try This Trick

by Christy Bieber | Published on Aug. 21, 2021

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Smiling man sitting on sofa with laptop and credit card.

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You can effortlessly build credit using cards without worrying about getting in over your head.

Credit cards can come with huge benefits -- earning rewards is an obvious one. After all, when card issuers give you miles, points, or merchandise for buying things you'd purchase anyway, it can seem strange to pass that up.

And if free trips, money, or goods aren't enough, credit cards can also play a really important role in helping improve your credit score. The scoring formula takes your credit utilization (the amount of credit used relative to what's available to you) into account, as well as your mix of different lines of credit and your payment history. Having credit cards helps with all that.

Despite these benefits, though, some people don't like the idea of using credit cards because of the risk of getting into debt. And for people who really struggle to control their spending or keep track of whether they've charged too much to pay off, credit cards can indeed be dangerous.

The good news is, if you're nervous about your ability to use credit cards responsibly, there's a simple trick you can try to benefit from the credit-building properties cards can offer without taking on a big risk of ending up in over your head with bills you can't pay.

Could this simple credit card trick work for you?

Here's how it works:

  • Sign up for a credit card, if you don't already have one. Look for a card with no annual fee, and don't worry about rewards because you won't be earning many.
  • Set up autopay on the credit card for one of your recurring bills. For example, you could set up autopay for a streaming service you use to watch movies and TV shows or for your cellphone bill.
  • Set up automatic payments from your bank account to your credit card each month.

With this trick, you'll get a small, predictable charge on your card every single month. Then your statement will come and your balance will automatically be paid in full. Your low credit utilization ratio and on-time payments will be reported to the three major credit bureaus, and you'll start to build a solid credit record.

You don't even have to keep the card once you've done this -- you can stick it in a drawer or even cut it up so you aren't tempted to use it. Just be sure to sign into your account once in a while to make sure the payments are processed properly and the bill is being paid on time by your automatic withdrawals.

This trick works really well because you don't have to carry a balance in order to build credit, nor do you have to charge a lot. You'll get all of the benefits of making steady, predictable payments without the risk of borrowing too much or missing a payment by mistake.

Of course, you won't get the other benefits cards provide, such as rewards or purchase protections. But if you think using cards will lead you to end up in debt, then giving up these benefits doesn't matter because the credit card interest charges you'd owe would dwarf the value of any rewards or cardholder perks.

Only you can know if you're able to trust yourself with using credit responsibly. But the good news is, with this trick, if you aren't confident in your ability to do that, you don't have to give up the credit-building power that cards provide.

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