My wife and I went to town today to do a little Christmas shopping. We went to four different stores, and at three of them, I was offered, “a discount for signing up for our store credit card.” Each time, I politely shook my head and said, “No thank you.”
What I really wanted to do was shout, at the top of my lungs, “Stop asking me if I want to apply for your silly credit card!”
I do not want to borrow money from you.
I do not want to make payments to you.
I do not want to give you my personal information, including my mailing address, so that you can stuff my mail box with advertisements.
I do not want to teach my kids that ‘swiping the magic card’ is how we ‘pay for things’.
I do not want to put my social security number on a form and then hand it to a part-time worker who looks as if she hates her job, hates me, and hates being at work. (Edit: After reading this post, I felt like this line was a bit harsh – but it comes from a real experience that I had today with a cashier who actually said, within earshot of 15 customers, “I hate this job!”.)
I do not want your credit card.
By the way, have you ever wondered WHY stores are so eager to give you a discount for signing up for their credit card? Because, they know that if you have a BRANDED credit card, a credit card that can ONLY be used at a certain store, that you will more likely to shop at that particular store. In other words, they give you a ONE-TIME discount, and then you become a “customer for life”.
While in one store, I counted ELEVEN people who were filling our credit card applications. My head almost exploded.
When I first started this blog, I would write about how much I hated credit cards. “Sophisticated” readers would leave comments about how “they paid off their balances each month” – and I felt some pressure to reevaluate my anti-credit card stance. But, after watching the sub-prime mess unfold and reading hundreds of articles (and emails from readers) about credit cards – I am convinced, more, now than ever, that credit cards are dangerous.
I realize that there are people who pay off their balances each month, and a select few that use credit cards and actually “make” money (from rewards, points, etc.) but I would submit that a larger number of people, perhaps even a majority, are burdened down with tremendous amounts of credit card debt.
For every person that I know who benefits from using a credit card, I know a dozen who feel trapped under the weight of high balances, payments, fees, and interest charges.
It’s funny to me that whenever I write about not using credit cards, I get comments about ‘not being responsible enough to use a credit card and pay it off each month’. For the life of me, I’ll NEVER understand what is MORE responsible than SAVING up enough money to buy a thing and then buying the thing with CASH