How the Wealthy Use Credit Cards
It might seem like anyone living the good life in the fast lane as a wealthy American might not have any real use for a credit card. However, many of the rich and famous or not-so-famous still use credit cards, and for a variety of reasons, particularly since wealth provides even more advantages and status.
Safety and convenience
At one time or another many of us have found ourselves in a position where felt uneasy about carrying cash on our person. Whether it’s because the surroundings seem unsafe, or being in an environment where it would be easy to misplace a wallet or leave something behind, there are many reasons to not want to carry cash. So why not use a debit card for an extravagant purchase, like dinner and drinks for 12 at a fancy restaurant, or a fun new digital toy? Because when you can afford to pay off a credit card balance in full each month, you’re using other people’s money to make purchases while your own money gains interest. Smart wealthy people are focused on earning more with what they already have. Paying for something with a credit card and then paying it off allows that money to earn an entire month’s worth of interest.
First-class perks and upgrades
Some the perks associated with high-end credit card programs are enhancements money otherwise can’t buy. Some, but not all, of the cards are very expensive to own, and may incur annual fees in the $1,000s on top of a hefty sum of $1,500 or $2,500 just to open the cards, but the payback might be worth it. If luxury hotel upgrades, personal concierge services, complimentary companion flights, private airport lounge access, and other travel perks and upgrades sound appealing, a credit card with elite status can be a ticket to otherwise off-limits advantages and special treatment. Banks make money either by charging hefty fees or by attracting the wealthy into making other investments with the bank.
Even with a fee, not all of the cards are accessible to everyone. Many elite cards are given out by invitation only.
Considering all of the perks many of the cards carry, it should come as no surprise that prestige is another influencer on the wealthy. Having an invitation-only credit card with no spending limit and a variety of world-class perks will get the attention of luxury retailers as well. Prestige and clout can buy better service without costing a dime. Sales people will go to much greater lengths to please a customer when they know that person has nearly unlimited funds at their disposal.
Credit score boost
Having a lot of money in the bank or a bunch of assets doesn’t automatically provide a good credit score with the three leading credit reporting agencies. To maintain a healthy credit score, some healthy credit activity needs to be posted regularly. Making regular purchases on a credit card while keeping a low debt-to-income ratio is a great way to keep a credit score strong. And good credit comes in handy when it’s time to take a loan out on that new yacht.
Just like anyone else, the wealthy are protected against fraudulent purchases or goods sold fraudulently. When something goes wrong, the services are generally convenient and hassle-free, so the added protection can make for much more carefree purchases, and that is something everyone can appreciate – rich, poor, or somewhere in between.
Related: 6 Best Luxury Credit Cards for the Wealthy
Shirley is a staff writer for MyBankTracker who covers personal finance trends, money habits, mortgages and foreclosures.