We hear a lot of negative things about credit cards and why we don’t need them – they lead to debt, credit card companies take advantage of us, the terms and conditions are unclear, and the list goes on. While you probably shouldn’t ask your Visa to be your Valentine, there’s nothing wrong with using it to buy a box of chocolates for your sweetie (if you know you can pay the debt back at the end of the month).

Here are seven important advantages to credit cards that make them worth keeping in your wallet:

#1 – Credit cards help build credit.
Because credit cards are reported to credit bureaus, using a credit card can help you build a good credit history. In general, credit cards are easier to get than loans and actually help you build the good credit you need to apply for a loan in the future. When you’re ready to apply for a loan, that credit card history will give the lender assurance that you’ll repay your balance.

#2 – They’re safer than cash.
Cash can easily be lost or stolen, especially if you’re carrying a lot of it. If you lose your cash or it gets stolen, there’s a good chance the money is gone for good. On the other hand, if you lose your credit card, your credit card company can help you replace your card and even remove charges made on a stolen credit card.

#3 – Credit cards are convenient.
Some things are just easier bought with a credit card – hotel reservations, plane tickets, and car rentals. You can use a debit card for these things, but often the company has to place a hold on your funds until after the transaction has gone through. You don’t have that problem when you use a credit card.

#4 – They allow you to make online purchases.
There’s no way to send cash over the internet. If you want to buy something from an internet retailer, you have to use a credit card.

#5 – You’re less liable in cases of fraud.
If you report a stolen credit card before any fraudulent charges are made, you won’t be liable for any charges made. In any event, you’ll only be liable for a maximum of $50 for a stolen credit card. With a stolen debit or ATM card, you could lose everything in your account if you wait too long to report a loss.

#6 – You can receive reward points.
Many credit cards come with reward benefits that accumulate as you make purchases. Once you rack up a certain number of points, you can receive cash back, discount coupons, merchandise, or even airline tickets. You don’t get the same benefit when you use cash.

#7 – Credit cards give you time to pay.
A credit card lets you pay for an item over a period of time rather than all at one time. You can delay payment for a few weeks without any cost. Or, you could repay your balance over several months or even years, but you’ll end up paying quite a bit of interest by doing so. Even so, you have the choice of delaying payment for your purchases.

While there may be many reasons against using credit cards, there are also some very good reasons to use them. As long as you are responsible with credit cards, the benefits will outweigh the costs.

Which do you think is best? Credit, debit, or cash?