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Don’t Hate the Credit Card

We’re headed to the airport today to head back home after our 2 week vacation. I’m going to postpone my normal weekend roundup (look for it on Tuesday). I just couldn’t resist another credit card article before Debt Free Revolution [1] and I call a truce in our debate about credit cards.

A comment in an email from a reader, jejily, really caught my eye:

Unfortunately, putting a credit card in my wallet is like putting a six-pack of beer in front of an alcoholic. One purchase (or one beer) is reasonable, but for addicts (and I’m a shopping addict, for sure), we can never stop at just one.

And I do have to agree, for some people giving them a credit card is a recipe for disaster. But like all vices, you can’t fault the credit card. Cash Money Life compared Credit Cards and Guns [2] linking the common denominator: misuse.

Alcohol, guns, shopping… It sounds like you can insert any bad habit or addiction and blame the object not the person. I’m getting a little off topic here, so let’s get back to the basics [3].

Successful use of a credit card involves:

  • Don’t spend more than you have.
  • Pay your balances in full.
  • Get the best reward credit card you can find.
  • Watch your statements for mistakes.

Ana addressed the rewards programs in her post yesterday [4]:

I can honestly say I have not seen any credit card reward that is enticing enough for me to put up with credit card companies’ games. 

Well Ana, you haven’t heard about my Fidelity529 credit card. 2% of all my purchases are put into my kids 529 plan [5]! And it’s run by FIA Card Services, which has great customer service. We’ve had the card for years and never had a problem. Unfortunately though, the current card isn’t offered to new cardholders.

Here’s more people making money using reward credit cards responsibly:

A stumble upon user commented that she wonders if I work for the credit card industry. For the record, I do not. Actually I do not use a credit card for all of my purchases (gasp!)… find out why as we wrap up the debate [9].

Read earlier posts in the Great Credit Card Debate: