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You’ve probably seen the credit card trope on various TV shows – where someone gets a credit card, goes on a shopping spree and later, falls in massive debt. Sound familiar?


Despite their reputation, credit cards can be useful and offer significant advantages, such as providing financial flexibility due to their revolving credit.

If you’re unsure about getting a credit card, let’s weigh the good and bad to see if credit card can work for you.


How credit cards can work for you


All the negativity on credit cards are due to the fear of uncontrolled spending, but when used wisely, they can be valuable, convenient tools that benefit your financial well-being. Here are some advantages: 


Build your credit history

Credit cards are effective ways to build your credit history – an important step in building a good credit score. Essentially, credit cards are a tool to see how good you are at managing your finances. Hence, they prove if you’re a reliable and consistent paymaster on your borrowed money.


Similar to applying for a job, companies look at your work history to assess your qualifications and experience – the same goes for mortgages and bank financing. You can build a good credit score as long as you pay your balances in full and on time. Thus, helping you qualify for larger loans and lower interest rates on mortgages and other financial tools.


Enjoy perks and rewards


We’ve all jumped on the bandwagon of online shopping. Here’s where a credit card can maximise your shopping experience. For example, you can top up e-wallets with CIMB e Credit Card to boost your bonus points earning up to 12x on e-payments every 28th of the month and cash-out by paying through bonus points at over 9,000 merchants across the nation!


Cashback credit cards are also one of the easiest wins – Imagine getting cash back for spending on your petrol, groceries, cinema, mobile and utilities bill payments! That’s a perk you’ll enjoy with the CIMB Cash Rebate Platinum Credit Card.  

Extra funds for emergency 

Besides being a useful tool for building credit or earning rewards, credit cards can be particularly helpful in emergencies. Especially if you’re in a pinch, having a credit card on hand can help you buy a few days to pay off a huge emergency sum.


What’s more, insurance holders can benefit too. If your car breaks down or you need to pay for medical bills like hospitalisation, surgery and more, your credit card can help cover the upfront payment before you are reimbursed by your insurance company. 


Most cards also allow you to withdraw cash – also known as cash advance – which can be convenient when you’re in a pinch. CIMB's Cashlite, for example, is a service that provides cardholders with the option to get cash from their available credit limit and comes with fixed repayment instalments. However, do take note that most cash advances come with a profit/interest rate so be sure to check the terms and conditions before making your withdrawal. 

Boost cash flow


When you purchase big-ticket items using your credit card, you’re giving yourself extra time to come up with the money to pay it.


With instalment payments, you can manage your cash flow to pay other bills or invest in new opportunities. This can be seen with CIMB’s 0% Easy Pay which allows you to enjoy up to 36 months of interest-free instalment payments when you use a CIMB credit card at participating merchants. Fun fact! CIMB's 0% Easy Pay is available for both online and in-store purchases. Check out the participating merchants on our 0% Promo Page here.    

Fraud protection and security


Among other benefits, credit cards can offer protection from theft or fraud.  Unlike cash or debit cards, thieves or scammers do not have direct access to your money.   


In other words, you still have time to report your lost or stolen credit card and have it frozen. Hence, you minimise the risk of unauthorised transactions and losing cash.


If your credit card gets stolen or you notice some suspicious transactions, you should report it to your credit card provider immediately. Most credit card companies have fraud protection policies, such as Visa’s Zero Liability Policy, which will protect you from any fraudulent charges on your lost, stolen cards, whether it is online or offline.

Travel without worry


Not only do they offer more security, some credit cards come with various travel rewards like exclusive access to airline lounges and higher bonus points rewards or cash rebates on overseas spend (including online). One such card is the CIMB World Mastercard Credit Card which offers plenty of travelling benefits including a 1.5% unlimited cash rebate on overseas spending and up to 5x bonus points.  


Some cards provide travel insurance too, including selected CIMB credit cards. So there’s no need to fork out extra to pay for travel insurance when you purchase a flight ticket. Another additional perk of becoming a CIMB cardholder is OctoTravel – a one-stop travel platform exclusively for CIMB cardholders. Now you can travel to your long-awaited vacation spot and explore the world with OctoTravel's amazing travel deals! Check them out at and make your travel and hotel bookings easily with a CIMB credit or debit card. 


Travelling with a credit card (as opposed to wads of cash) may also be safer. companies like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted across the globe, so you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash with you.  

Using Your Credit Cards Responsibly


Even with plenty of perks, credit card can be detrimental to your future finances when used incorrectly. So, always be sure to do these three things:


  • Avoid overspending: Typically, it is advisable to charge no more than 30% of your available credit*. Every credit card comes with its credit limits. When you max out your card limits, you also raise your credit utilisation ratio, impacting your credit score.


  • Keep track of your expenditure: Losing track of your credit card purchases may lead to you being buried under a mountain of debt. Tracking your expenses can ensure that you pay off your debt in time and avoid bad financial decisions.


  • Pay your credit card bills on time: Late payments come at a high cost. Depending on how late you are, you may trigger late fees, penalty) and even damage your credit score. If you pay every credit card bill in full, you will avoid carrying a balance and paying interest/charges.


The popular question of whether a credit card is good or bad is, in fact, a question of whether you’re able to spend responsibly. Above all, credit cards are not inherenly bad, but they can become a burden when your credit card debt spirals out of control.


If you’re still doubting the necessity of a credit card, sticking with a debit card is most likely the better choice for you. Get more helpful money tips on Life Goals to level up your personal finance knowledge! 


This article is brought to you by CIMB as part of our ongoing efforts to raise the level of financial literacy among Malaysians. Financial knowledge and understanding are key to making well-informed and meaningful financial decisions that will improve all our well-being. This, in turn, achieves CIMB’s purpose of advancing customers and society.