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I am a first time owner of my own credit card. I got it with the purpose of building my credit to be able to receive loans for cars/house and things of that sort.

I have amassed some student debt, but now have a healthy steady income. I also keep very close track on my daily expenses and how I spend my money.

My plan with using my credit card is to pay it off in full when I receive the bill.

My question lies in how I should be using it though.

Should I use it like how I've been using my debit cards? i.e. for lunch/dinner/coffee and other every week expenses...gas, groceries, random stops at the local convenience store... (just about everyday)

Or should I use it for only specific expenses like gas and groceries? (rather seldom)

Like I said, my goal is to build my credit score and I'd like to know the most effective way to do so (do more purchases on my credit card, and paying it off in full equal higher credit score?)

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First of all, do not let your balance carry over and build interest - always pay off the balance at the end of the month.

Second, do not buy more than you could afford if you were using a Debit Card or Cash - make purchases you know you can afford.

As for where to use your credit card, in practical terms if you're following the two statements above to the letter, anywhere you would be able to use a Debit Card you can use your Credit Card instead - it doesn't have a huge impact on your credit score, but it does give you a credit identity at the very least.

The real benefits of using a Credit Card are:

  • Any rewards associated with the card, like cash back or points as long as you remember to use them.
  • Not having to worry about your bank account being hit if someone gains access to your card information (you'll still need to report it, but it will be the credit agency's responsibility, and your own account should be safe).
  • Being widely accepted at various vendors.
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  • In response to your first two statements: That is exactly my mind set.
    – Ale
    Dec 13 '16 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Ale Then you're going in with a good mindset. :)
    – Zibbobz
    Dec 13 '16 at 18:18
  • The second bullet point, account compromise, is the biggest reason to use a CC. A lot of Canadian banks accept zero liability, even if they are responsible for the compromise (common example being people calling the bank and pretending to be the account holder).
    – Lan
    Dec 13 '16 at 19:48
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    There may be other benefits, depending on the card. I always forget that my card comes with an automatic secondary warranty, for example.
    – keshlam
    Dec 14 '16 at 2:47
  • Additional benefits of using a credit card: (1) Simplifies online purchases and kiosk style purchases at gas stations; (2) Stop paying ATM fees to get cash; (3) Extended warranties and insurance on some purchases; (4) Fraud protection; (5) Many banks will give you a breakdown of your spending by category at the end of a year, which can be helpful for budgeting. (6) Ability to set up automatic bill payments without giving access to your banking information.
    – JohnFx
    Dec 17 '16 at 21:29
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Is the credit card you got some type of rewards card? If so, I'd definitely recommend making your regular daily purchases with it to maximize rewards, then paying it off in full each month.

If it's not any type of rewards card, just make regular purchases, maybe when you shop online, and pay that off in full as well. Credit cards are helpful because they provide more protection than debit cards do in terms of fraud protection and unauthorized charges.

Personally, my credit card number has been stolen about 3 or 4 times and charged any where from $4.95 to $250. I report it and was never held liable. If my debit card number was stolen, I may or may not have ever seen that money again.

Now, I use my credit card when shopping online or at major retail stores to be safe.

If you carry a balance (which you shouldn't), make sure to keep it under 30% of your credit card limit.

The "proper" way to use a credit card is to never charge more than you can afford and pay the balance off in full every month. There's no secret formula, just don't get in over your head with charges!

It's pretty easy to build your credit if you responsibly handle your card.

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I've been using credit cards for 7+ years to build my credit now and through my experience, I can say you can get a maximum out of your card only if you use it smartly. There's nothing wrong with using a credit card like a debit card, I would advise you to pay your bill in full and on time and try to keep your credit utilization below 30%

In terms of how to use a credit card

Take time to understand rewards on your credit card

Your credit card may give you reward points for specific kinds of spendings (restaurants, shopping, bill payments) These reward points can be redeemed in cash or kind. Use your card in a manner that helps you get the best out of the rewards and benefits you are eligible for. I've been following these tips given by my credit card provider on how to use credit card properly which gradually helped me build my credit for the long run.

Read the terms and conditions of your lender like if they're providing any cashback or reward points on bill payments or online shopping/on groceries, etc, then use those reward points/cashback offers for your own benefit. I'm not saying you may save a huge amount of money but whatever little money you save turns out to be a huge saving combined.

This should help.

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