As the Easter holiday approaches, it is common for many people to worry about how they'll pay for all the added expenses. Whether you're looking to buy Easter gifts for your loved ones, treat yourself to something special, or travel upcountry for a quick family reunion, you are likely to spend more than your typical monthly budget.
You will be more worried if you didn’t save for these specific expenditures or if you are experiencing other financial fixes that are bringing your stress. One way to circumvent this stress and enjoy the holiday fun is to consider a short-term unsecured loan.
Many people consider this option given the near-instant processing nature of short-term unsecured loans and the fact that eligibility requirements may be quite lax.
But loans come at a cost. Not only do you pay interest, but there may be other fees, such as processing fees, excise duty and more, depending on the lender. These costs may make taking a loan to pay for Easter expenses less exciting when they add up.
That is where a credit card can come in handy.
A credit card is a payment card issued by financial institutions such as banks that allows you (the cardholder) to make purchases on credit. You can use your credit card to buy goods or services up to a certain limit, and you can pay the borrowed amount back either in full or in installments over time.
One unique feature of credit cards is the interest-free period. This is the amount of time, usually between 30-55 days from the date of purchase, during which you are not charged any interest on the amount you borrow.
If you repay the borrowed amount within this interest-free period, you can avoid paying any interest at all. However, if you don’t pay back the borrowed amount within the interest-free period, you will be charged interest - but only on the outstanding balance.
Can you see how advantageous a credit card may be over a short-term unsecured loan such as a digital loan?
In this article, we explore five ways a credit card can come through for you during this Easter season and what makes it stand out compared to other short-term debt products.
With all the expenses associated with Easter, it is not uncommon for people to find themselves cash-strapped. This can be for various reasons: maybe your salary has been delayed, an emergency expense has come up, or you are under-budgeted, and now you need extra cash.
Credit cards can be a lifesaver when you need to pay for urgent expenses, interest-free.
Whether it is a last-minute grocery run or an unexpected car repair, credit cards can provide the financial flexibility you need to cover these costs without incurring any interest. This is especially important during Easter when expenses can add up quickly.
One of the main advantages of using a credit card is the credit limit allowed to the cardholder. You can buy anything within that limit with a credit card and pay later. For instance, if your limit is Ksh20,000, you can spend as much as you need and pay it back later without incurring interest - granted that you repay within the grace period.
The grace period is the interest-free period, which varies depending on your card provider. It is typically 30 to 55 days for credit cards offered in Kenya. For instance, Absa Bank Kenya offers an interest-free period of 50 days for all Absa credit cards. If you spend money on your Absa credit card and repay it within 50 days, you will pay zero shillings in interest.
Credit cards can be a valuable tool during Easter by providing discounts, rewards points, and cashback offers when shopping, travelling, or eating out. By taking advantage of these offers, you can save money on your Easter expenses and enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank.
How is this achieved?
This is made possible through partnerships between credit card providers and businesses, rewards points systems, and cashback offers.
Credit card providers have partnerships with various businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, and travel companies. When you use your credit card to purchase at these businesses, you may be eligible for discounts or special offers. For example, some credit card companies may offer their users exclusive discounts on hotel bookings, flights, or at big retailers and supermarkets. These partnerships can help you save money on Easter shopping or vacation expenses.
Another way that credit cards can help you save money during Easter is through cashback offers. When you use your credit card to make purchases, you may be eligible for a percentage of your purchase price back in cash. For example, if you use your credit card to buy clothes for your family, you may receive a percentage of your purchase price back in cash.
However, to reap these benefits, choosing a card that best aligns with your needs is essential. For instance, if you travel a lot and have the Absa Platinum card, you can get up to 2% cash back on all purchases and discounted airport VIP lounge access.
While a credit card is primarily used to make cashless purchases and is widely accepted at malls, online shopping, filling stations, and various businesses, it can still come through for you if you need hard cash urgently.
This is enabled by a credit card feature known as “cash advance.” If during Easter you need to access cash during an emergency; whether it is car trouble on your trip upcountry or you need to shop at a store that doesn’t accept cash, you can actually use your credit card to withdraw cash at any ATM.
Used in this manner, a credit card becomes a source of emergency cash as you would with a digital loan application or emergency loans from banks and Saccos. The difference is that with credit cards, access to emergency funds is instantaneous - as long as you have not used up your limit.
A cash advance loan is a short-term emergency debt you borrow against your credit card’s credit limit or available balance and withdraw that money in cash from an ATM or send money to your mobile money account.
You can use your cash advance loan where a credit card isn’t accepted, and you absolutely must make that purchase.
However, you should know that cash advance loans usually do not come with a grace period and start attracting interest immediately.
This means that if you withdraw cash using your credit card, you will not benefit from the interest-free period and will have to pay interest from the moment you withdraw. As such, it is advisable to use the cash advance feature only during emergencies.
During Easter, it's easy to get carried away with spending and lose track of where your money is going. Fortunately, credit cards can help you keep track of your expenses and avoid overspending in two ways.
Beyond Easter, you can use a credit card to automate your finances. You can charge all your expenses to the card, pay off the balance automatically before the grace period ends, and receive detailed statements of all your expenses. By doing this, you’ll never miss a payment or incur interest charges or late fees on your obligations.
This feature is useful for automating bill payments, such as rent, internet, gym memberships, and other monthly bills. By charging these expenses to the card, you can ensure they are paid on time without manually transferring funds or remembering due dates.
If you are going through a rough patch but want to enjoy the Easter holiday with your loved ones, you might have to consider a short-term loan. Some of the easiest short-term loans one can access in Kenya are credit cards and digital loans. When compared, credit cards are significantly cheaper.
This all boils down to the cost of the loan. Credit cards provide access to an interest-free grace period allowing you to make necessary purchases without incurring interest.
In contrast, digital loans are typically more expensive and come with shorter tenures than credit cards, typically 30 days, and you start incurring interest immediately. As seen above, the tenure is even shorter than, for example, the 50-day grace period that comes with all of Absa’s Credit Cards.
Once the credit card's grace period has ended - and you decide to carry over the balance - you will pay a relatively lower interest rate than digital loan providers charge.
Additionally, you will be charged interest only on the daily outstanding balance. This is unlike digital loans that charge daily interest for the loan's tenure. This means paying your credit card balance earlier can save you money.
Finally, the cost becomes even lower when you factor in the rewards, discounts, and cash back you receive for using a credit card.
As we have seen, credit cards can come through for you this Easter holiday by providing financial flexibility and access to interest-free credit. Imagine shopping and travelling without worrying about cash shortages or enjoying discounts and perks when dining out with family and friends. With a credit card, you can make the most of your Easter celebrations and create memories that will last a lifetime.
However, using credit cards wisely is essential to avoid overspending, which can lead to debt accumulation. Make a budget for your Easter expenses, and stick to it. Remember to pay your bills promptly to avoid late fees and interest charges. Finally, remember that irresponsible use of credit cards can hurt your credit score.