There are many personal finance blogs that tell you to cut up your credit cards or exercise greater willpower with credit cards. While that may be good advice depending on your situation, I want to personally thank the countless people who are irresponsible with their credit card usage.
Without the huge profits that these people are generating for credit card issuers, we would all be paying annual fees and higher interest rates. Cash back rebates or airline miles would be virtually nonexistent. So from the bottom of my heart wallet, thank you!
Charging What You Cannot Afford
Amazingly many people treat their credit cards as an extended bank account. No money in the bank for those new shoes or dinner out with friends? No problem! Just charge it to your credit card!
The problem is that you can get carried away with this thinking. Suddenly you are financing the lifestyle you dream of. Then once you are used to that lifestyle, you want to maintain it even if it means racking up your credit card.
Before you know it, you have a credit card balance that you cannot pay off. With the high interest rates of credit cards, this can be disastrous.
Always Making The Minimum Payment
For some reason people seem to think that paying the minimum payment on a credit card is perfectly fine. Somehow they are able to ignore how much interest they will have to pay by only making the minimum payment.
The minimum payment isn’t designed to help you pay off your credit card balance though. It is set so low to encourage people to maintain a balance owed. The longer you take to pay off that balance, the more interest you are paying. You are essentially willingly paying a higher and higher price for whatever you charged to your credit card.
Making Late Payments
This is the irresponsible move that can really hurt you. Most credit card issuers will ding you with a hefty late payment fee. Just by putting off that payment, you could be forced to pay a fee that is even higher than the monthly interest.
The potentially more damaging way it hurts you is by affecting your credit score. Each time you miss making a credit card payment on time, that gets reported to credit agencies, dropping your credit score. If you make a habit of this, it could really hurt, especially if you later try to get a loan or mortgage.
Getting Cash Advances
Some people may have thought they discovered a convenient feature of credit cards – the ability to get cash advances. This is just another trap setup by the card issuers though.
For this convenience, they usually charge a cash advance fee. Then on top of this, they charge a much higher interest on this debt. There is almost always a better option than taking a cash loan out on your credit card.
When people make these kinds of mistakes they are basically paying for other cardholders’ cash back rebates and other rewards. So the responsible cardholders should really be thanking those people for these kinds of perks.
It is up to you whether you want to be paid to use a credit card or if you want to be one of the countless people who are paying for that privilege. I know what choice I’m making.
Have you personally made any of these credit card mistakes? Have you now harnessed the power of credit cards to use them to your advantage?