What is charge card vs credit card?

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Charge cards and credit cards are both widely used financial tools that allow individuals to make purchases and payments without carrying cash. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we will explore what charge cards and credit cards are, how they work, and the distinctions that set them apart.

What is a Charge Card?

A charge card is a type of payment card that allows users to make purchases on credit, with the balance being due in full at the end of each billing cycle. Unlike credit cards, charge cards typically do not have a pre-set spending limit. Instead, the card issuer evaluates the cardholder’s spending patterns and payment history to determine the maximum amount they can charge. This means that charge card users must pay off their balance in full each month, with no option to carry a balance over time.

Benefits of Charge Cards: Charge cards often come with various benefits and rewards programs, such as travel perks, cashback offers, and exclusive access to events. Additionally, charge cards can help individuals build a strong credit history and improve their credit score, as responsible use and timely payment can demonstrate financial responsibility.

What is a Credit Card?

A credit card, on the other hand, is a payment card that allows users to borrow money from the card issuer up to a certain credit limit. Cardholders can make purchases and choose to pay the balance in full or carry it over time, incurring interest charges on the unpaid amount. Credit cards offer more flexibility in terms of repayment options, allowing users to make minimum payments and carry a balance from month to month.

Benefits of Credit Cards: Credit cards provide users with a convenient and widely accepted method of payment. They offer various benefits, including rewards programs, cashback offers, and fraud protection. Credit cards also provide an opportunity to build credit history and improve credit scores, similar to charge cards.

Differences between Charge Cards and Credit Cards

While charge cards and credit cards share some similarities, there are several key differences that set them apart:

Payment Terms: Charge cards require users to pay off their balance in full each month, while credit cards allow users to carry a balance and make minimum payments.

Spending Limit: Charge cards typically do not have a pre-set spending limit, whereas credit cards have a defined credit limit based on the cardholder’s creditworthiness.

Interest Charges: Charge cards do not charge interest as long as the balance is paid in full each month. In contrast, credit cards charge interest on any unpaid balance, which can accumulate over time.

Annual Fees: Charge cards often come with higher annual fees compared to credit cards, reflecting the additional benefits and perks they offer.


In summary, charge cards and credit cards are both valuable financial tools that provide individuals with convenient and secure payment options. While charge cards require full payment each month and have no pre-set spending limit, credit cards offer more flexibility in terms of repayment and credit limits. Understanding the differences between these two types of cards can help individuals make informed decisions about which option best suits their financial needs and spending habits.


– americanexpress.com
– visa.com
– mastercard.us