I have a love-hate relationship with credit cards, and depending on the day, I’ll tell you they are great or I’ll tell you to avoid them forever.
I’ve had both good and bad experiences with them. When I first got married, my husband and I got into credit card debt and it took me 18 months to get out of it. That was when I first started side hustling so I could make extra money to pay it off more quickly.
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After that, my husband and I went years without carrying a credit card balance, but sometimes I slip into bad habits and have an unexpected bill, which has caused me to go a month or two with a balance before I go gangbusters destroying it again.
So, because I’ve experienced both the good and bad sides of credit cards, here are some reasons why I both love and hate them:
Why I Love Them
I love credit cards namely because they can offer unparalleled rewards when it comes to travel. Traveling is a huge passion of mine, and just recently, my husband and I took our children on a trip to Europe. Because of credit card points, we were able to pay for all of our plane tickets with points, which helped our vacation budget tremendously.
Credit cards can give you rewards through sign-up bonuses, and some people become so adept at finding these bonuses that they go on multiple trips each year.
I also love credit cards because many cards offer extra perks that you might not even know about, like rental car insurance or the ability to contest any purchase. If you paid for something in cash and the product was faulty or did not meet your expectations, you might have trouble getting a refund. However, with a credit card, you can dispute any payment on your account, and it offers you an incredible amount of protection against fraud.
Why I Hate Them
Of course, as I mentioned, I actually hate credit cards, too. The main reason is that credit cards have extremely high-interest rates. It isn’t a huge problem if you pay off your credit card each month, but if you slip up and forget to pay, or have unexpected expenses, those high interest rates can hurt you. That's probably why the average credit card balance is $5,525 — and probably growing.
I also hate credit cards because, for me personally, it makes it incredibly easy to spend money.
I’m not alone. There have been numerous studies on this topic, some of which Melanie Lockert referenced in her recent article for The College Investor, “Are You Spending More Money With Credit Cards?” One study in particular that many financial journalists reference widely is an older study by MIT researchers Drazen and Duncan, which showed “willingness-to-pay can be increased when customers are instructed to use a credit card rather than cash.”
My own experiences reflect this. Many of my credit cards have high limits, so I always feel comfortable using them, because I know they have money available. However, when I use my debit card, it gives me a little bit more anxiety, like I’m worried the balance is going to drop too much and I’m going to have another embarrassing moment in which a card gets declined.
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Still, these days I find that I use my credit cards sparingly and then ramp up my usage of them instead of my debit card when I’m planning a future trip and want to use points. Either way, I’m sure my love/hate relationship with cards will remain strong in the future – depending on the day of course.
Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any partner bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other partner. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.