10 Purchases You Shouldn’t Make With a Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but there are times when it’s best to keep the plastic tucked away. Here are 10 such scenarios.

Many credit cards offer a slew of incentives to consumers who use them — from cash back and other rewards to zero liability in case of fraud.

But credit cards are not always your best form of payment, especially if you aren’t great with debt. In many cases, you are better off keeping the plastic tucked away.

Here are 10 purchases you should probably avoid making with your magic plastic:

1. Household bills

If you are already cutting it close for the month, you may be tempted to use plastic to pay the utility, cellphone or cable bill. But if you’re not paying off your full balance each month, the interest you will be charged makes those monthly bills even more expensive.

2. Cars

Car dealers often don’t allow credit-card purchases, or may limit the amount of the purchase price you can put on your card. Dealers don’t like credit card payments because they have to pay the 1 to 3 percent fee the card company charges to process the transaction

You could exercise the cash advance option. But you’ll pay a fee and a higher interest rate. Also, you won’t get a grace period on the interest — it will begin to accumulate right away.

Instead of using a card, go to a credit union or bank to get financing approved at a reasonable interest rate before shopping for a car.

3. Student loans

If you can’t afford to pay your federal student loans, you have options, such as an income-based repayment plan, deferment, forbearance and possibly loan forgiveness. Take a look at “Finding Help With Your Student Loans” to learn more.

Paying your student loan debt with a credit card increases the amount of interest you’re paying on the debt. Even if you have a zero-percent introductory credit card offer, it will expire in time.

And while the federal government will accept a credit card payment for loans in default, many student loan servicers won’t allow this form of payment.

4. Retail therapy

Think a new purchase will cheer you up? Perhaps. But remember that cash is king if you choose this mode of “therapy.” That way, you won’t let your credit card balance spiral out of control.

5. Medical bills

If you use a medical credit card available through your health care provider’s office to pay bills, be careful to read the fine print about your obligations.

Also consider steps you can take to reduce health care costs. See “10 Ways to Fight High Medical Bills.”

6. A night on the town

Handing your credit card to an unscrupulous waitperson equipped with a skimming device isn’t your only worry. If you’re out on the town throwing back drinks, it’s easy to run up a tab you can’t afford.

In these scenarios, it’s best to pay with cash.

7. Big-ticket items you can’t pay off immediately

Credit cards offer great purchase protections and should be used for many big-ticket purchases. But buying something on credit when you can’t afford to pay it off right away isn’t smart.

8. Credit card payments

You can’t charge your monthly credit card payment on another credit card. But perhaps you’ve been tempted to use a cash advance from a credit card to bolster your checking account so that you can pay your other bills.

We’ve already explained the folly of cash advances. Your credit card is not an ATM and should not be used as one.

There are real benefits, however, to transferring high-interest credit card debt to a new card with a generous zero-percent balance transfer offer. Just be aware of the balance transfer fee and the length of the offer.

9. ‘Sale’ items

Convinced that you may miss out on savings if you don’t purchase a specific item on sale right away? That’s one of the warning signs of an impulse buy.

Wait a day and think about whether you really need the item. Nine times out of 10, the answer will be “no.”

You aren’t saving money by spending it for something you don’t need.

10. Unsecured online purchases

Does the Web address have an “https” at the beginning? If not, that’s your cue to take your online shopping elsewhere.

In fact, do your homework before purchasing anything online to make sure a company is reputable and not the source of many consumer complaints.

What purchases do you refrain from making with your credit card? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Dale

    Rewards were the reason I liked to use my debit cards to pay bills – of course, some bureaucrat did away with those perks. Debit cards are a good option because you can’t spend more than you have on deposit. It can be a humbling experience to get your debit card declined for a $20 dollar utility bill because the gas station took $90 bucks from your account for ten dollars of gas!

  • LovestoEat

    I beg to differ on at least one of these instances using your credit card to make a purchase. I had cash in the bank to use for my down payment of $7,000. towards my new car. I opted to use my cash-back reward credit card instead, which the auto dealer said they would not accept. But…when I told them I was no longer interested in the deal and started to leave they suddenly decided to accept my credit card for the down payment. Hence, I earned a tidy sum on my cash-back using my credit card and went home with my new car and promptly paid my credit card balance off so I did not incur any interest.

  • senior3citizen

    Since debit cards are not safe to use on the internet, I use my credit card for all purchases-including utilities, medical bills, etc.- then transfer that money from my checking account to the credit card account – that is instant payment. Being able to check your credit charges within hours of posting and can catch a possible fraud charge I consider less of a hassle than trying to deal with a possible fraud debit charge. I do not write checks – I use “Bill pay” and in some instances it takes longer to post and can cost you a late charge. With thieves hacking ATM’s, and some retailer’s not having proper safety measures debit cards are not safe these days.

    • ModernMode

      I don’t do any online banking or bill pay. Hardly a month goes by without there being a new hacking scandal with millions of accounts hacked. I stick to paper checks for paying bills whenever possible and have never had a problem.

      • Jason

        Despite the news headlines about hacking, the majority of theft is done the old fashion way: a waiter or waitress copies down your information directly from your card. Everything they need is right on the card. I purchase quite a bit online with credit card and use online bill payment and have never had a problem.

        The only time I’ve had my credit card information stolen was a card that I never used online. The bank froze the card on the 3rd unauthorized purchase and contacted me. I verified the purchases were fraudulent and the card company sent me a new card next day air. I wasn’t responsible for any charges and it only took about 10 minutes of my time.

  • Malcom Treadway

    My credit card is my bank. I use their money for an extra 25 days. I earn a few bucks back for what I charge. I always take that modest sum and apply it to my outstanding balance as a credit. I put virtually everything – recurring household bills, gasoline, groceries, you name it – on my card. I have a budget. My monthly income stays in my bank account, where it earns (a paltry .75%) interest. When the credit card payment is due, I pay it off completely. It’s all about perception and concept: just don’t treat your credit card as though it is “money” above and beyond your actual income. It isn’t.

    • Joseph Freitas

      There is no reason to not use your credit card to make payments that you could have made with cash or check. Like utility bills, etc. Free 25 days of interest, fraud protection, rewards, tracking.
      @Moneytalks – Who reviews these articles?

      • Malcom Treadway

        They’re written for the bottom rung of their target audience.

      • bethaliz6894

        This works for responsible people like us that pays the credit card bill in full every month. Its the people that think “Free cash” are the ones this article is written for. I charge everything. Between cash back and no interest and amazon using cash back awards, I make money shopping. :)

  • Patrick Seitz

    Another good reason, I think, to not put college on a student loan is that a lot of times the interest on student loans is tax deductible. The interest on credit card debt is not.

  • bigpinch

    I have an exception, too. When my only automobile died I had to replace it, immediately. Living out in the country, there is no public transportation option. The best deal I could make with the dealership on a two-year old truck was 8% interest. Since I had carried a zero balance on my four credit cards, I got a lot of promotional rates for cash loans from them.
    I took advantage of one such promotional loan and transferred the balance on the truck to the card at 3% interest for the life of the loan. I put pencil and paper to the deal and saw the advantage before I jumped at it I’d already figured out that I could afford the monthly payment at the dealership so when the interest rate got lowered, instead of taking a lower monthly payment, I increased the monthly payment to the card a little bit and was able to pay the truck off sooner. An unexpected advantage was that money I’d paid on the 8% deal which was a loan “insurance” was refunded to me in cash by the insurance company. And, btw, 10 years and 140,000 additional miles later, I’m still driving the truck and haven’t had a car payment in a long time.

  • Kathy Bergquist

    I receive 0% interest offers all of the time from credit cards. I only take advantage of them when I need to. About four years ago I was in pain but the doctors were at a loss for 6 months what was causing it. I have insurance; its pays 80/20. The $25 dollar co-pays were adding up fast. I knew this pain was going to cost me so I accepted one of the credit card deals. Thank god I did. $3000 would have cleaned my savings out and then some.

    I felt so good after my surgery four months later, I took advantage of another credit deal from Menard’s, also 0% interest, and changed my flooring from all carpet, including the bathroom (yuck!) to laminate tile and replaced my bathroom sink. I ripped out the carpet myself. The surprise costs was replacing the sub-floor in the bathroom and the out-pipe for the toilet. That totaled over $2000 on the credit cards-supplies for the floor and the bathroom sink and the rest for the plumber. $1000 out of pocket for the guy that did the floor work
    Hopefully, I will be able to use another credit card deal for the house damage from the hail storm I had in June. I already have the insurance money sitting in my credit union collecting interest.

  • Al Seaver

    I use my c.c.’s for everything possible as I get cash back on them and I pay my charges in full every month. Getting something back trumps getting nothing back every time. If you can’t or don’t pay the cards off every month, that’s your problem.

  • TWL

    Re: #6 handing your card to a waiter who takes it “somewhere” to swipe. They not only could have a skimming device, they could take a pic front and back and have all your info by more traditional means available in everyone’s pocket. We were in South Africa and at every establishment they bring a credit card swipe device to the table so the card never left our sight. Seems this offers a bit more protection. Why isn’t this the practice in the U.S.A.?

    • Jason

      Tradition and the fact that the rest of the world used chip technology that requires the user to enter a pin number.

      • Rich Logan

        don’t feel so safe with those cards with chip technology; there are scanners that can be passed over those cards – and all the protection you thought you had is now gone…best thing to do is be vigilant in reviewing your accounts (online, in safe location, such as at home) religiously – so that you know right away if there is malicious activity.- if you report it right away, you aren’t responsible for it – and it minimizes the fraud.

        • Jason

          I didn’t say chip technology was foolproof. It is better than handing your card to someone to take off to a dark corner of the room.

          • Rich Logan

            understand – but if you are following your accounts online and your bank is doing its job – it should be able to identify fraud purchases rather quickly (mine has) and cancel the card… since you aren’t liable for these purchases anyway – it is in their best interest to do so. I have only just started receiving cards with the embedded chip; we travel overseas a LOT; no one has asked for a card that has the embedded chip…but I also don’t purchase much over there – except meals.

          • Jason

            Keeping an eye on accounts is very importants. I’ve only had a problem with a corporate card and it was very easy to resolve. They called me, asked about 3 suspicious charges, I confirmed I didn’t make the charges, they canceled the card and send me a replacement next-day air. The thief only got about $6.

            I have had problems with regular magnetic cards in Europe. Not with any transaction made in person but with transactions at kiosks. (Train tickets, parking, etc). At these kiosks a PIN was required. I had not set up a PIN on any of my credit cards because in the USA a PIN is only used for cash withdrawals at ATMs . We ended up using a debit card so it worked out OK but could have been a major issue.

            Chip cards are more secure that cards with only a magnetic strip. Thats is a positive development and it is good that the USA will be switching to this technology next year. However, all the common sense rules still apply.

          • The day will come when the banks won’t be able to determine if it was you or an identity thief who did the deed, and they will make you prove you didn’t make the transaction before they will reverse the charge. Will you be able to do that?

          • TVJ

            That day is already here–I had some drama with Chase a while back with unauthorized use of a card. Most banks refund you and then start investigating the charge. Chase did not reverse the charge immediately–they investigated FIRST and then LATER reversed the charge.

          • But they reversed the charge. Will they do that if their records show the thief patronizes the same places you do, at the same time you do, because that is one way to avoid being detected?

          • TVJ

            You make a very good point! I would imagine that the banks would most likely try to deny that the charge was indeed fraudulent, and I would have a MAJOR problem!

          • And since the biggest banks are acting like RICOs, they don’t have to take your word for it, even if you have proof. And there goes your high FICO…

          • TVJ

            Exactly! :-(

          • Now is as good a time as any to reduce your exposure to the banksters.

          • TVJ

            That is true. My main reason for working so hard (perversely as you said) on my credit was to ensure that I could purchase a home at a good interest rate. I have the home and am actively paying it off, the car is paid for and will be kept until it falls apart (the next car will be purchased in cash), student loan debt will be paid off somewhat soon.

            I won’t have much need for banksters.

          • To the contrary, you absolutely need the people who are toting all of your notes, who are the banksters. You might want to consider adopting Gary North’s car buying philosophy. If you want to rely on your credit rating, assuming it will matter in the near future, you should dedicate yourself to paying off the student loan first, since it is the only one you can’t lose by bankruptcy, yet. That will still be around when the other creditors are a mere memory, being a federally guaranteed encumbrance.

          • TVJ

            Thank you for your input.

          • nopilikia

            So true, sadly believe the student loan can even survive your death in someone co-signed the note with you.

          • All debts have always survived as long as a co-signer did.

          • nopilikia

            Indeed…if you can join a Credit Union.

          • Have you never heard of the NCUA?

          • nopilikia

            Of course, been a CU member for over 30 years.

          • Banks have unsecured creditors, credit unions have members. Aside from those differences, there are few important ones, and the NCUA and FDIC have equally dismal reserves of well under 1% of their deposits, as well as almost identical statutory underpinnings.

          • nopilikia

            Not quite, many banks issue bonds. And “almost identical” are the key words. Allowing banksters and their BODs to collect obscene payments and bonuses at the expense of their shareholders and to a lessor degree their customers.

          • A CD is a bond issued directly by the institution.

          • Jcatz4

            Just had the same thing happen with my CapitalOne MasterCard. They had sent me an email about a suspected fraud charge on my account. I had to click “yes” or “no” as to whether or not I recognized the charge. It was for $750. and had something to do with PAYPAL “MYEBAYSELLI” (what ever that means). No, I had nothing to do with that charge. I clicked “No” and then called CapitalOne immediately. That happened on Aug. 11th and I just received a letter saying that the fraud investigation is now resolved. What really got me is that they issued me a new card and new acct. number but still had that fraud charge on my new card until the investigation was resolved. I have purchased things on Ebay from time to time and had that card registered with PayPal because so many sellers require payment through them but I would still love to know the details about who did it but I guess I’ll never know.

          • TVJ

            How annoying! The Chase drama happened years ago, but recently some bleeping bleep charged $600 of auto parts online on my account. Citibank contacted and took care of it but I was furious because I have NEVER purchased auto parts anywhere ever. Yet there have been times where I have to call to authorize my own charge at places where I shop regularly.

            I’m glad Cap One worked things out for you.

          • Rich Logan

            Not sure what country you live in where you’re guilty until proven innocent – but the burden of proof is on THEM – not you…

          • You have criminal charges confused with business done in commercial codes and subject to contracts, to which the debtor is a party.

          • Rich Logan

            They *still* have to prove that you made the purchase – it isn’t automatically assumed that you did – if you dispute the charge. They have to – by law – re-credit the account, can’t charge interest on it, etc. – and they HAVE to investigate it, including contacting the seller, etc.

          • The standard of proof is different than in a criminal trial. If the transaction took place in physical and temporal proximity to a legitimate one that you aren’t contesting, they have the proof they require if there are no indications of fraud.
            Having worked as a retail cashier, I was usually as uncomfortable as the customer when clearance took a long time, and declinations were hell, since it meant that someone had to restock everything. Cash never bounces.

          • Rich Logan

            While the burden of proof is certainly different (civil issue versus criminal), they STILL have to be able to prove that YOU (or someone you authorized) made the purchase. There are many ways of doing this…signature of course is the main one; patterns and location are certainly others. but not a guarantee that you made the purchase. And when someone steals your credit, normally they do not just make one random purchase; instead they go until the card (or the company) won’t let them go any further…
            And if you prefer cash – you are certainly able to use it; but you would lose out on all of the benefits of using credit – such as rebates, free flights, gift cards, etc. No one is going to make you do something you’d prefer not to….

          • Did you read or retain the contract that you signed with the lender. It either specifies or directs one to the specification of the standard of proof that they use, and describes the actions that the signatory grants them full legal authority to use to recover any losses they suffer. These contracts are usually tantamount to adhesion contracts, with them having the authority to change the terms at their will. Even if they are constrained by law, they write enough wiggle room into these boilerplate monstrosities to be able to work their way around anything legislators or their legal advisors can come up with.
            That, and the fact that most people can’t parse the contracts anyway, even if they bothered to read and/or keep it, guarantees that anything that goes wrong can be taken out on the signatory and/or their agents or assignees. They can’t enforce this contract against someone who refuses to use their product. Cash has no such provisions.

        • whattarush

          When in doubt, follow your card wherever it goes.

          • When in doubt, stop using the card.

          • whattarush

            Not gonna stop using it.

        • All the chips do is replace the need to swipe and punch in a PIN.

          • Georgia Wessling

            Sorry, but I have never had to use a pin with my cc’s. If I had a debit card, I would have to and debit cards are not for me.

          • Credit cards used to be authenticated by a signature, which isn’t even required under $50 now. Debit cards have always been authenticated like ATM cards, by a PIN.
            All plastic will become inoperative when the ATM collapse comes.

          • Jason

            You likely will soon. Today if a retailer accept a fraudulent payment on a credit card the credit card company takes the loss. Starting October 1st, 2015 VISA and Mastercard will no longer accept any liability for fraudulent charges made unless the retailer uses chip technology.

          • Jcatz4

            I don’t have a pin # attached to my credit cards ,either. I have seen that question pop up on the terminal at some stores and I just tell the cashier that I don’t have a pin for my card. Then I don’t know if she hits a key on her cash register or what but I don’t have a problem. Sometimes I have to sign what I call the etch-a-sketch and sometimes not depending on the amount of my purchase.

        • Georgia Wessling

          I check my cc’s & ckg. acct. daily on my computer. The ckg. acct. I balance every 2-3 days. That is easier that trying to find a mistake in 30 days. I have had 2 cc’s for 9 years and have not paid them a cent. They have paid me close to $5k. I have had my cc’s hijacked 3 times and nearly a fourth. One reason I check them so closely. On the 3rd one, I had to file a police report and put a hold on all my credit. The card that was hijacked twice never left my home. I guess the scammers have ways to check your accounts elsewhere. I do not need my credit score now as I have no debt, pay bills as due, own my own home and car, and have an emergency fund. I guess all the stupid mistakes I made with credit when I was younger got cured by the time and effort it took to get out of debt. As the Bible says, the borrower is a slave to the lender. Really realized that when I found out from a friend how much the quick loan companies can charge you in interest – in one state it can go up to 543% interest on non-secured loans.

      • There are devices that can be bought by licensed locksmiths that can unlock any fob-controlled car in a minute. Imagine a similar device in the possession of someone who wants to clean out your checking account and/or max out your credit cards…

        • whattarush

          Y’know…we have to put our faith in something. Even a thief can steal the money you put in a mattress. At least with a credit card company behind me, I have someone on my side. Devices get into the wrong hands many times. Being diligent about watching your accounts is a defense against this kind of problem. While it may be inconvenient, it isn’t devastating. Identity theft is the worst offense, I would imagine, but it has never happened to me.

          • TVJ

            You’re definitely right about watching accounts on a daily basis. The one day that I did not check my accounts, I received a call from the credit card company asking if I had authorized an online charge for $600 worth of auto parts and had tried to charge thousands of dollars in person at Loews.

            The problem was taken care of quickly, but I was quite annoyed that they somehow didn’t ‘catch’ the unusual online purchase as I have never purchased auto parts from anywhere, ever! And there are some occasions where I have had to call the credit card company when my own authorized charge was declined–and this was for a store that I frequent.

            However, I’d rather be declined and deal with the hassle of calling for verification instead of a fraudulent charge going through and having to deal with the aftermath…

          • Georgia Wessling

            On my 4th try by hijackers to get one of my cards, I really, really lucked out. Or the Lord stuck His nose in my business. I was going to be traveling through at least 3-5 different states and I have learned to notify the company when I plan to go. In February, I called and was giving my information to them. Suddenly the operator stopped me and asked if I was getting that information from my card. I said I was. She asked if the card was right there in my hand. I said yes. She asked – then why did you order a new card yesterday? I informed her I had not. But-if it would take time to clear, I had another card I could use. She said not to bother. Since the new card had not been sent out yet, she just cancelled the order. Within 2 weeks I got a new card with the chip. That was really a close squeak.

          • TVJ

            Wow! That certainly was close! I also notify about travel as well. I will be traveling out of the country very soon and just called the company this morning.

    • Are you unaware of the new way to use a credit card, by taking a photograph of it? It is the new way to swipe and in combination with RFID chips, makes them as secure as water in a shattered glass.

  • Lynda Belltinker

    Would have liked to see a bit more explanation on this one… If I’m going to have the medical expense, and it gets paid off monthly without carrying a balance, I’d much rather use somebody else’s money and reap the rewards.

    5. Medical bills

    If you use a medical credit card available through your health care provider’s office to pay bills, be careful to read the fine print about your obligations.

    • cvincent

      I believe the writer was referencing credit cards issued through your medical provider which many times have much higher rates and may have sketchy fine print obligations that are not standard, e.g. – method of calculating interest, grace period, late fees, etc.

      • Lynda Belltinker

        Thanks, cvincent. That would make sense… :)

      • Lorilu

        Agree. A friend recently saw a new dentist and was given a very large estimate for work needed. The dentist’s biller then pushed her very hard to sign up for one of those medical credit cards, which she did. I am sure there is something in it for the dentist’s office, since the pressure was so great. In addition, the friend will now go forward with very extensive dental work, with no second opinion.

        • whattarush

          With me, the “joke” is on the dentist. I believe the only incentive the dentist would have is that he or she will actually get paid. But, the “joke” is, and from what I understand, is that the dentist pays the interest on the loan while it is outstanding. I am one of those people who go the length of the loan making equal payments so that by the end of the grace period, the loan is paid off (and the dentist paid the interest!). Now, when I needed extensive work, I worked with the dentist to get a percent off of each treatment and agreed to pay for that service in cash. It took several months, but the work was eventually done, I saved money and the dentist didn’t have to help finance the payments by paying the interest. It was an all-around good deal for everyone involved. Your friend probably should have obtained a second opinion if she didn’t trust the dentist. Also, if she felt pressured, she should have thought about it for awhile and perhaps found an alternative like I did. Luckily, we did have cash on hand to help, but we did end up cashing in some mutual funds.

          • Georgia Wessling

            My dentist, in a small town, does not accept cc’s. You must pay by cash or check.

          • whattarush

            Yeah…not all providers do. Perhaps it might be a necessity to see a dentist in a larger city IF you want to keep your teeth! OR have the means to pay for the service as he or she requests.

          • Georgia Wessling

            Actually this dentist is quite reasonable on his prices. In fact, when I lived 70 miles from home during the work week, I learned how little my husband was paying to have a tooth pulled. I got the dentist’s price list and was astonished. The prices were so good that I cancelled my dental insurance. I was paying $50 a month for my husband and I and the insurance never paid over half of the bill. I was saving $50 a month and get me teeth checked twice a year for about $120.00. This was in 2000. My last bill from my former dentist was for $600 for a crown and charges for the work. We couldn’t afford it, so I had my tooth pulled. Later I found out that the hometown dentist would have done it for $300 and, if I didn’t care how it looked (it was a back jaw tooth), he could have put a stainless steel one (?) on for $90. BOY – do I miss that jaw tooth. I can’t chew on that side.

          • whattarush

            I would certainly prefer to keep company with dentists who value keeping the original tooth and doing restoration over one who would pull it cheaply. Now, instead of a crown, you need a bridge, and I don’t know how comfortable those things are. I do believe you might end up spending the same amount on a pull/bridge vs. crown/restoration.

          • Georgia Wessling

            Sorry, at my age, no bridge for me. Most of my jaw teeth are gone. Only have 2 I can chew with. If one of them goes, I will have what are left pulled and get dentures.

    • whattarush

      How I understand this one: There is a card we have, and we use it for dental, vision and vet expenses. It allows us to spread out the payment over time, and the interest is deferred ONLY if we make monthly payments AND pay it off before the end of the (for lack of a better word) grace period. In other words, it is “3, 6, or how-ever-many months, same as cash”. The “fine print” says that if you miss a payment or don’t pay it off before the period ends, you pay all of the interest that goes back to the beginning of the loan. The card we have is Care Credit, not that I’m endorsing it. You can look at their website and ask questions if you need more of an explanation.

  • Rich Logan

    I totally disagree with MOST of their advice; I use credit cards EVERYWHERE and for EVERYTHING I can! But I am also disaplined enough to pay them off every month as well – and reap the benefits of paying for everything by credit card…house bills, medical bills, utility bills, etc. I also paid $5k on one of my credit cards….for a car (that is all they would allow me to!); bottom line is proper discipline- just like everything else in life!

    • LagunaLady27

      I’m with you. I use a cash rewards card for everything that allows me to do so. Received $300 in cash back so far this year, and paid no interest.

      • Rich Logan

        I probly have 10 credit cards; most of them airlines cards; we ‘cycle’ through them – maxing out the bonuses given…then getting rid of them…only to renew them when they again offer the bonus; we travel virtually all over the pace for free – pay no interest on cards, no $ for bags, etc. – and my credit score is right at 800…again – you manage the cards; don’t let them manage you. Never take out advances, etc. unless it is the only option…then do so with zero percent cards – and roll them over to a new card once the free interest rate ends…

        • runs with scissors

          Rich you are one of the few that are able to control how you spend on your cards. Most individuals don’t have the insight or discipline to make sure the balances are paid so they don’t incur interest. I have used credit cards steadily over the last 7 years and have never paid interest making large purchases that have been paid back over time. My score is well over 800 as well. You and I are the few that know how to use cards but the other 90% need these guidelines.

          • Rich Logan

            I agree to a point – but I believe if you are going to go that route – the topic of the article should be on ‘proper handling and use of credit cards’ – and address those topics, such as never carry a balance, don’t take advantage of the advances or balance transfer checks, etc. – rather than telling EVERYONE not to do these things…when, done right, can be quite beneficial to those that can manage their credit.

    • TVJ

      I agree with you! I use my credit cards for bills and pay them off every month to maintain my high FICO score and also for the travel points. My round-trip ticket to Paris cost me just $90.

      • I have never known my FICO score. If you can’t pay for it, you might not deserve to own it.

        • TVJ

          I suppose that applies to you. Nowhere in my post did I say I couldn’t pay for anything.

          • Then why would you need credit?

          • TVJ

            Very obviously credit is used for huge purchases such as a home, as you clearly must know. If you are saying that someone who borrows money to buy a home “might not deserve to own it”, you are being ridiculous.

          • I paid for my home before I moved into it.
            Delayed gratification is a learned skill.

          • TVJ

            Yes, definitely! I wish I could have completely paid for my home as you did! Currently I’m working to pay off my mortgage early.

          • whattarush

            You need credit to buy and house or a car, among other things. You also might need a credit score to get insurance. Some states look at your score more than your driving record. A good credit score is an indication that you are a good risk. Also, paying with a credit card has other incentives. I don’t know them all, but here’s a few: If you have a dispute with a purchase, your credit card company might be able to help. Another is, if an appliance breaks, and you’re within a certain time period, they may be able to replace it. Also, if an item is lost or stolen, your credit card company might be able to replace the item. You have to read the fine print to see what other benefits there are for using credit cards. Personally, I use mine for everything and get 1% cash back on everything and 5% cash back on some things that change quarterly.

            There are websites where you can check your credit score. I use Credit Karma, but you could contact each of the places that rate your credit.

            Some people, due to unforeseen circumstances, can’t pay their credit card off. Some people spend willy-nilly and don’t care if they can afford it or not. They pay interest. This is why the credit card companies like these people, and they will give them enough credit so they can still pay the minimum balance due each month. People like me use their credit card each month for convenience and to get that cash back bonus and pay it off every month. I use that cash back as part of my emergency fund should I need it. Other people have used their credit and haven’t been able to pay it back. Perhaps they’ve gone into bankruptcy. The credit card company accepts this as a price for doing business, and this is why other people pay interest. Their credit is ruined for a period of time, and they have to build it back up.

            Now, who’s to say who deserves credit?

          • TVJ

            Excellent post! Thank you!

          • Of course, those who should say whether someone deserves credit are those who would extend it if they consider the applicant to be credit worthy.
            I have had 4 “store” credit cards in my life (Sears, Penney’s, Ward’s, Chevron). They have all been gone since 1980. I have never had a regular credit card (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, etc.)
            I paid for my home before I moved into it, and I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t pay property tax, utilities, or cable TV bills. When one lives frugally, ones high saving rate can handle emergencies.
            I’m quite sure that I have a FICO, but it is as irrelevant to me as my completely blank credit report.
            Needless to say, when the plastic stops working, I’ll just keep paying cash.

          • whattarush

            You are certainly an exception. So, why does this discussion even concern you?

          • What does that have to do with this discussion, Adolph?

          • Jcatz4

            I think that I have read every comment and I don’t see anyone by the name “Adolph”. What is your problem??

          • Whattarush’s apparent challenge to the legitimacy of my presence in a conversation in which I am very well-versed in the topic.

          • Joseph Freitas

            If you own your home how are you not paying property tax? I assume your in the US since your English seems proper. If you havn’t been paying property taxes you won’t own your home for much longer.

          • Homesteads aren’t taxable.

          • Joseph Freitas

            Very rarely is that true. I think only in 1 state is there a 100% exception but I learn something new every day I guess.

          • It can be based on several things and be different within a state involving type of construction, zoning (if any), level of self-sufficiency, accessibility, as well as any existing covenants on adjacent land.

          • Jcatz4

            So what is a homestead? Can I call my house a “homestead”? I live in SNJ.

          • The legal definition of homestead, which is the important one in this case, varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There is no such thing, anymore, in the majority of the United States, and even when there is, it ranges from what is called a freehold to a building with a never surrendered allodial title, which is most common, as I’m told by a former professional commercial realtor, in Texas. I had to do a lot of due diligence to find what I found, and the window I found might have closed by now.

          • Jcatz4

            If you own a home, how can you not have property taxes or utility bills??? I can understand not having a cable TV bill because I don’t have that either – I get what TV I can from an indoor antenna. I would love not to have to pay property taxes, electric, gas, water and phone bills. How about letting me know your secret.

          • No secret. It is a fully self-contained and self-sufficient homestead, which is exempt from property taxes by local law.

          • Malcom Treadway

            It isn’t a necessarily a matter of “needing” credit. It is convenient. You have an instant record of your transaction. If need be, you can contest a transaction. You are playing with someone else’s money for 25 days. But like the other posters here, I pay off my balance every month. That is the only way it works. It is all in how one thinks of it: my monthly budget determines what I charge on my card. Those that think of a credit card as “extra money” that gets paid back in minimum dribs and drabs are the undisciplined people who get themselves in a hole.

          • I get an instant physical record of every transaction, called a receipt. If I’m not satisfied, I have the full legal authority to contest the transaction with the seller, it being no business of the financier.

          • runs with scissors

            Many car insurance companies and even employers are looking at credit scores. They want to see if you pay your bills on time, how responsible you are, if you are a risk to the company, (you might feel compelled to embezzle or steal if you are in debt). A higher credit score will also get you a better interest rate on a loan, be it for a car or home. OR get you a loan at all. Even if you pay cash for everything and have no debt, you still need a high score.

          • I must have a high score, then, because I’ve never had any problem getting insurance. Several months ago I used a FICO estimator on their website and it came up with something over 700. Is that a high score?

          • Jcatz4

            I don’t think that anybody said you would have a problem getting insurance but you might be paying more for it. I’m a single, Sr. Citizen on SS and my FICO is presently 808. FICO scores range from a minimum of 300 to a maximum of 850. So your FICO estimate of “something over 700” isn’t bad but could be better.

          • It must have been reading “A higher credit score will also get you a better interest rate on a loan, be it for a car or home. OR get you a loan at all…”

            Since I’d have to actually go into debt and retire it to improve my FICO score (which was only an estimate made on the creator’s website), and I have no need to since I don’t use credit or have any intention to begin to, my FICO score is, at most, a curiosity to me.

          • Jcatz4

            Whoops! You are way out in left field. I put things on credit cards and I could just as easily pay cash but since I pay my balances off in full monthly, never pay a cent to carry the cards and never pay a cent of interest and the cards I have are cash rewards cards the credit card companies are paying me to use their cards. I roughly figured that over the past year I have earned approximately $400. My Discover Card provides my FICO score for free each month. I presently have an 808 FICO score. It’s all about knowing how to handle your money. People that don’t have any kind of credit history and then for one reason or another find themselves needing it will usually have to pay a higher interest rate.

          • If all of your plastic stopped working tomorrow and the bank was closed when you got there, with no indication when it would reopen and/or your plastic would work again, how would you pay for what you’d need in the meantime?

          • TVJ

            I pay off balances monthly as well, and use rewards from my cards. My FICO is 835 as of today.

    • whattarush

      They did qualify most of these reasons by saying that if you can’t pay your credit card balance off at the end of the month, don’t use it, and don’t use it if you can’t afford it. I would think that most people are not as disciplined as you and I are.

  • Vince Ryder

    I try to use cash when frequenting small independent businesses (mom & pop type) because such places (to me) seem to have the odds stacked against them (franchise competitions, overhead, etc.). I try not to shave their profit by using the card. On the other hand, when I am getting up to 5% cash back for groceries, gas, etc., I make use of the card every time. The key to using credit is knowing how much you are spending and how that compares to the money you have on hand to pay the bill in the following month. I’ve known two types of people through the years who can’t handle credit cards: 1) those who use them anyway and sprint toward a combination of wage slavery/bankruptcy, and 2) those who refuse to use them at all, because they know the slippery slope to which they may fall victim. The latter type may miss out on the card convenience and cash back deals, but that’s certainly preferable to not controlling their spending like the former.

  • hlc

    So what’s left? Long story short, don’t use credit cards?

    • whattarush

      That isn’t what they’re saying. If you can’t pay your credit cards off at the end of the month, don’t use them. Don’t use them as “free” money. And, I definitely wouldn’t use a credit card to pay for anything online that didn’t use a secure connection, but I would change to a more reputable company to purchase the same thing. If you use credit cards appropriately, you don’t have to worry. Common sense. I use my credit cards for practically everything. I get cash back as a bonus, AND I pay it off at the end of every month. Long story short, use credit cards responsibly — pay them off at the end of the month.

      • Paying off your credit cards every month will hurt your FICO, because it doesn’t establish long term reliability.

        • TVJ

          How would you know? You just replied to me that you have never known your FICO score! So how would you know if paying them off every month would hurt a FICO score?

          My FICO score is very high because I use my cards regularly AND I pay them off every single month.

          • Maybe you should know bit more about the FICO score before you display your ignorance about it.

          • TVJ

            Perhaps you should stop claiming to know what helps or harms a credit score if you have not viewed your own. You yourself wrote that you have never known your score, so clearly it seems that YOU are displaying your ignorance.

          • Again, you should learn more about the FICO score, from the people who created it, not from how it reacts to your perverse forms of budgetary manipulation.

          • TVJ

            I don’t see paying off credit debt monthly as perverse, but you are right that anyone using credit and banking on having the ‘benefits’ of a good FICO score should learn more about it.

        • whattarush

          Part of your credit score looks at your credit utilization ratio, or in other words, what your credit card balances are in relationship to the maximum amount you are allowed to charge on all of your cards. There are many things that affect your FICO score, so you might want to read up on that.

          • I already did, but since I don’t have any credit cards or debt, it is irrelevant to me.

          • whattarush

            Then why are you here?

          • Because it is an open forum, Adolph.

          • Georgia Wessling

            I heard once that people who pay their cc’s off each month are called “deadbeats” by the companies. But, they still get money off of our cards when we spend them at stores, etc.

        • TVJ

          What if you have had the cards for a long time? The only long-term reliability I imagine would be home mortgage, car loans (although I believe cars should be paid for immediately or at least within a year of purchase), and student loans.

      • TVJ


  • Lorilu

    We used a cash back credit card to pay tuition and load funds onto a student expense card at college. Amazingly, the school didn’t charge a fee for this, and we got cash back.

    • TVJ

      That’s great that no fee is charged to use your credit card to pay tuition. At my son’s school, I don’t use my credit card because of the fee–which sucks because I could use those points on my card! I am able to load money on the the expense card at no extra charge, though.

      • whattarush

        It isn’t free for the school to accept a credit card, so it is (kind of) right that they would pass A fee on to you, although I don’t think they can pass that particular fee on to the customer. It’s how they get around it, I would imagine. AND, it’s probably more than the actual fee that the credit card company charges!

        • TVJ

          I bet you’re right!

  • I.Popoff

    When I began reading this I soon suspected it was written by Allison Martin.

  • whattarush

    No longer feeding the troll among us.

  • Ann Stone


  • collentine1

    Yes! Good advice.

  • CT Perry.

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