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The problem with debt is that once you start sinking into the red, it can be very hard to climb back into the black. For that reason, many people are hesitant to whip out their credit cards when making certain purchases, even though the advantages they bring could sometimes save you big.

Fortunately, we have financial expert Pattie Lovett-Reid to help shed some light on when it’s a good idea to break out the plastic.

Use ’em for…

Online purchases
Using a credit card when making online purchases will mean that the provider will “have your back”, according to Lovett-Reid. In other words, you are basically guaranteed that your transaction will be more secure, since your provider will be looking for any kind of sketchy activity. If you use a debit card instead, it’s treated basically like cash, which could leave you more vulnerable.

Large electronic purchases
Whether its a new TV or Apple’s latest gadget, Lovett-Reid says you should charge it. Of course, that’s only if you’re sure you can pay it off in full by the end of the month. The reward there will be the sheer mountain of points you get in return.

Travel
Some credit cards offer discounts for booking a trip through one of its services. Others will offer things you can redeem – like rental cars or hotel packages – assuming you have enough points. But like always, make sure you can pay it all off in time for the bill.

Sometimes though, credit cards aren’t always the best option. So here is when you shouldn’t use them.

Avoid using ’em for…

Extended car warranties
You will likely pay less if you bundle the cost of the extended warranty into the car loan, rather than putting it on credit.

Flea markets
If you’re ever shopping in any area and don’t quite feel right about the person on the other side of the counter, don’t hand them your credit card. Give them cash instead (and make sure to count your change afterwards).

When you can’t pay it off in full
This one is obvious, but it really is the golden rule. As long as you can pay your bill off in full without going into more debt (like paying one card with another, for example), it’s usually a sign that you’re on the right track.

So there you have it! For more information on when to use your credit card, check out the video above.

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