Why do people use credit cards?
If you have financial self discipline, using a credit card can be much safer than using cash or debit cards. Credit cards offer you better protection from fraud. They are also setup to protect your rights as a consumer because you can leverage the credit card company against a merchant who sold you a defective product. In a previous post, I discussed 4 Reasons You Should Use A Credit Card.
Many people are conditioned to avoid credit cards at all costs. This is a good strategy if you have no financial discipline–just a like an alcoholic should steer clear of even driving near a bar. If you treat your credit card like a checking account and keep track of each purchase as if the money has already been removed from your checking account, you can get the benefits of using a credit card while avoiding the dangers.
I use credit cards for EVERYTHING. I have two cards: one to use and one as a backup. I pay my balance in full every month and NEVER pay interest. I use Quicken to remind me to pay the bill, which I typically do 1 day after the end of the billing cycle (but I get the float because I schedule the payment to hit a few days before the payment due date). My main card costs $75/year, but yields enough in rewards to save me around $600-$800 on airfare for my annual family trip across the country (my card works on any airline, has no blackout dates, etc.). My backup card has no fees (but yields no rewards). To me, the credit card is just a medium of payment; I do not use it borrow money. My bottom line is this: the credit card industry has set up rules that cost the average person money, but if you have the discipline to act differently from the average person, you can make money using credit cards.
Dale King says
Very few people do have the financial discipline to misuse credit cards, but even if you do have that kind of discipline and pay yours off every month it has still been proven that you will spend more using plastic than you will with cash. That’s why McDonald’s started taking plastic. Studies showed that you will spend 18% more when using plastic. Your body has a different reaction when spending cash. It hurts more when using cash. You don’t register spending on plastic as though you really are giving away anything.
As far as the protection goes, you get the same protection using a check card if you run it as credit instead of debit.
Dale King says
You get the same fraud protection on your Checking account Check Card if you run it as credit instead of debit. You are pretty safe from identity theft when you use cash as well.
Even if you have the financial self discipline to always pay off your credit card every month, you will still spend more with a credit card than you will when spending with cash.
Dale is a Dave Ramsey fan – as am I. Couldn’t agree more. I used to use only a CC and pay it off every month; then I tried just cash. BIG difference. If you don’t think so, then try it for a few months!
Brian Berman says
I am huge on this subject. I am a firm believer that cash should be removed from circulation altogether. Cash is bad, debit cards are a little better, credit cards are excellent, but charge cards are the best. Charge cards REQUIRE you to pay in full each month, but for that, there is 0% interest and usually a competitive reward program. I use my American Express Platinum card for 99% of all my spending. I would be willing to field any questions regarding my post. Believe me, I have an answer for everything.
Mark Shead says
@Brian – From a privacy standpoint, I still want cash to stay in circulation.
Brian Berman says
@Mark – That is one concern I can accept although, personally, I’d take that risk to, for example, drastically reduce small-to-mid level crime (drug dealing, under the table work, etc.), allow me to itemize, track, and view trends in my spending, and to help others understand that money is a concept rather than a physical entity. Cash is just another example of “paper” in a growing paperless society, but if privacy is a concern, paperless probably isn’t your main concern. I do think that it will become harder and harder to push for privacy by maintaining paper. For example, most top public companies, not only require direct deposit over paper checks, but some have even discontinued pay stubs.