Credit cards sometimes get a bad rap, and that’s mostly because they can lead you to temptation to spend beyond your means.

Used responsibly, however, these little pieces of plastic can actually save you money as banks are constantly running promotions that offer discounts for spending.

The key is to pay your bills in full every month, so you don’t incur the astronomical interest rate charged on top of your purchases.

Check out these 5 ways that using credit cards can help save you money.

1. Dining deals

Credit cards that offer dining deals are a foodie’s best friend and the good news is, there are plenty of such cards in Australia.

Be sure to subscribe to receive promotional emails and mailers from your banks to find out about current dining deals such as 1-for-1 offers, cashback or complimentary treats at selected eateries.

2. Discounts on hotels and flights

Keep an eye out for special flight or hotel deals from your credit card of choice.

You can also get discounts when you book through hotel booking sites such as Agoda or Expedia.

Some cards are specially designed for frequent travellers as you get complimentary use of airport lounges a number of times a year, and free travel insurance if you purchase your ticket using the card.

Be aware, though, that some airlines charge a fee when you pay for your tickets online using a credit card, so do some calculations to see if it still works out cheaper.

3. Interest-free instalment plans

If you need to buy expensive electronic or electrical goods, such as a new TV or laptop, the 0 per cent interest instalment offered by most major credit cards at many major homewares and electrical retailers can come in very handy.

It helps spread the payments out over your chosen six or 12 months without the high interest rates you would otherwise incur if you were to pay for it upfront using your credit card.

This allows you to better manage your monthly expenses and avoid overspending.

Credit card companies make profits on a simple fact of human nature: we buy today and worry about how to pay for it tomorrow.

4. Discounts on everyday items

Credit cards aren’t just useful for big ticket or luxury goods, they can help you save on everyday items too, such as groceries and petrol.

Do your research and work out what the best rewards programs are available in Australia that suits your lifestyle and needs.

With the high cost of car ownership, every single dollar counts.

5. Collect rebates and cashback

If you’re not after dining deals and you don’t like going for holidays, you may want to keep it simple and just collect good old rebates or cashback from your spending.

Most cashback cards require you to have a minimum spend per month, such as $500, in order to qualify for rebates.

Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.