Credit cards assist manage expenses and develop credit. Credit cards may offer fraud and purchase protection, and unlike cash, they may be easily replaced if lost or stolen.

1. Credit card for credit building If you're new to credit or wish to enhance your credit, get a credit card. Secured and unsecured cards are available.

2. Earn rewards Credit cards can be a great way to earn rewards or cash back on purchases you’d be making anyway. There are a variety of rewards cards to choose from, including travel, hotel, airline and cash back cards, to name a few.

3. Pay down debt Credit card purchases may appear counterintuitive because they might lead to debt. Credit cards can help you pay off debt when used wisely, such as to take advantage of introductory 0% APR balance transfer deals.

4. Finance a purchase For the most part, a credit card isn’t your best bet for financing a purchase, since interest rates are typically high. But a card with an introductory 0% purchase APR can give you an opportunity to pay off a big purchase interest-free.

While a credit card can provide numerous benefits when used strategically, it can also lead to high interest charges, increasing debt and a negative impact on your credit if you’re not careful with how you use it.

Make your payments on time. Your payment history is one of the major factors that influences your credit.

The trick to using these benefits while maintaining healthy credit card use is to use them to pay for items you’d buy anyway, pay your bill in full and on time every month, and keep your credit utilization rate low.