As I browse through the personal finance blogs and finance related articles, I see a lot of people blame their credit cards for their debt problems. To me, this seems as absurd as fat people suing Mac Donald’s for their weight issues! If you are serious about getting rid of your debt and building a sound financial future, you need to get past this blame game. Your credit card is not responsible for your debt problems!
Nobody forced you to apply for the card
First of all, nobody forced you to apply for a credit card. Agreed that in some cases, the credit card companies may have come to the campus and enticed you with a T-shirt or a popular CD in exchange for filling up the credit card application. They may have lured you and tempted you. But they didn’t force you. It was your own ignorance and greed for the trinkets that made you apply for the cards. The earlier you see this, and stop blaming “them” for your problems, the sooner you will be free to make some progress in your financial situation.
Nobody forced you to spend
Once you did get your credit card, nobody forced you to use it. The agreement you have with your credit card company is that they offer you the convenience of carrying the plastic instead of a pile of coins, and an interest-free loan for one month, provided you repay it at the end of the month. Otherwise, they start charging your interest. If you go out and spend on your whims and fancies and conveniently ignore the repayment part, of course, you will have a pile of debt to pay. It is your irresponsibility you should be blaming, not the credit card company.
Your high interest rate is not the credit card company’s fault
It is likely that your credit card company has several million customers. So believe me, they didn’t pick you out to receive a high interest rate. What they did is what any sound business should do – check the risk of investment. They looked at your credit history to determine how much of a risk you are, before they gave you their money. If you got a high interest rate, then it is likely that either your credit history is bad, or it doesn’t exist. If it is the former, you are the only one who can be blamed for it. Instead of complaining, go work on fixing your credit history. If you don’t have a credit history yet, instead of complaining about the high interest rate, be thankful that you have a chance to build a good credit history and qualify for a better rate in the future. Would you give a loan to a person that you have never met before or have no idea if he will ever return it? Then why do you expect it from your credit card company?
Blaming credit cards will only hold you back
I have heard a lot of people complain that with a credit card, they find it hard to resist the temptation to spend. The credit card offers them a false sense of being rich, and they are not responsible for succumbing to its dark calls to splurge. Well, if you really want to have “financial independence” and really want to be wealthy person, you better learn some discipline quick. If you can’t handle a few thousand dollars now, how on earth do you expect to be able to handle hundreds of thousands of dollars that is needed for a decent retirement? Start learning to control the credit card, instead of allowing it to control you.
Also, you need to face your past to prepare for the future. Stop blaming others for your previous mistakes, and consciously avoid those mistakes in the future. Together with a savings plan, you can make your dreams come true a lot more easily than you think!
One more point I want to make here is that some companies expect you to charge your expenses to a corporate credit card. For instance, my company handles reimbursements for all work related travel and expenditure through the corporate credit card. When you are in a situation where you own a company card with possibly no preset spending limit, what will you do? If you can be disciplined with the corporate card, why not with your personal cards? Believe me, you have a lot more discipline than you give yourself credit for (no pun intended).
You could be rewarded well if you play the game right
Finally, once you master the discipline of using your credit card and pay your balances in full every month, a whole new world of rewards and opportunities present themselves. So get past the blame game already!
- Whatever you spend on credit card is an interest-free loan till the end of the month. Where else can you get that?
- And can you beat the convenience of not having to carry a pile of cash and change with you all the time?
- How good are you at handling pennies anyway? When you use cash and receive pennies in change, do you take good care of it? How about nickels and dimes? If you add all the pennies, nickels and dimes I bet they will add up to quite a bit. With a credit card, every dime, nickel and cent is accounted for!
- In addition, many credit cards categorize your purchases and send you reports annually for your expenditure. It’s a great way to organize your finances.
- Also, there are many cards these days that offer fee-free rewards in the form of airline miles or cash back or points which you can use towards purchases. Usually it ranges from 1% to 5% of what you charge to the card. It may not seem like much if you plan to live well below your means and not charge a whole lot to your credit card. But over several years, it gradually adds up.
- There are several other benefits to using credit cards such as purchase protection, travel insurance, no liabilities for lost or stolen cards etc. You can’t get that for using cash.
- In case of emergencies, you may not be able to run to your bank to withdraw cash. Credit cards offer quick access to reasonably large amounts of money, in case of emergencies. Just make sure you pay it back ASAP.
- As you grow more sophisticated, you can make even more money from credit cards through arbitrage. For instance, this year I will make around $2000 from my credit cards instead of paying any interest to credit card companies. I have been in credit card debt before and now its payback time. Believe me, if I can do it so can you! But not if you keep blaming your credit card company for your problems! (Note: Sadly though, this article suggests that this may be not so profitable in the future)
- Finally, using a credit card responsibly is one of the easiest way to build your credit history. A credit history will be used in almost all walks of your life – whether you want to buy a car, or buy a home, or get a loan to start your own company and maybe even when you apply for a job.
So stop blaming your credit card for your debt problems. Learn to control it and educate yourself about the proper usage of this double edged sword and you will realize you are way more powerful than you thought.
(This post was inspired by 9 Reasons Why I Love My Credit Card by SVB @ The Digerati Life)
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PS: I do not work for a credit card company. This is just one of my pet peeves. May the stoning begin 🙂