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Q: I’m going to need to pay some of my monthly bills with a credit card. Is there a certain card I should use to do this?
A: Let’s face it: it’s generally a bad idea to pay your bills with a credit card. Paying with a credit card risks high interest rates and fees, and often just delays a problem. There are, however, a few times when paying with a credit card makes sense:
- You are taking advantage of credit card rewards, and will pay off the balance by the end of the month.
- You forgot to pay the bill or are out of town and want to avoid late fees.
- The company offers a discount for paying early, but you want to hold off actually paying the bill for a couple of weeks.
- You absolutely do not have the cash, but will soon.
- Dire emergencies.
If you have cash in your bank account but need to make a payment quickly, use a debit card if possible. If you must use a credit card, consider the following creteria:
- Reward Programs. If you’re going to use credit to pay bills, you really should get a little something back.
- Interest Rates. This is especially important if the balance will linger – pick the one with the lowest rate.
- Low Balance. Pick a card with a low balance – the higher the balance, the more interest you’ll pay.
Remember, paying bills with a credit card is convenient and helpful in an emergency, but should never stand in as a long term solution to financial problems. If you are having problems paying your bills, look into payment plans or other assistance to ease your financial situation.
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