Rebuttals for Ten Reasons You Think You Need a Credit Card

Credit cards are the devil. When I look at the amount of debt this country has from credit cards with just as much justification for using them; it makes me wonder why so many people keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that creative types are especially vulnerable. Maybe it’s because we tend to be procrastinators or have eyes bigger than our stomachs. Maybe it’s because creative jobs tend not to pay as well. Maybe it’s because we often make decisions based on emotions instead of logic. Maybe it’s because many of us don’t like to think about money.

Most of all, I think it’s because we are too smart for our own good. Creative people have amazing vision. We come up with elaborate financial plans for ourselves and our families that often surpass our ability to execute them.

I hear extremely intelligent people using these excuses for having credit cards all the time. They think they can outsmart credit card companies who have built a multi-billion dollar industry on people just like them. When you feel yourself getting too smart for your own good when it comes to credit cards, here are some rebuttals to help cool you down.

1. I Need it in Case of an Emergency

This is the number one excuse for owning a credit card. People like the security of a safety blanket. The problem is that emergencies are a fact of life. Statistically, over the course of a few years, it is almost guaranteed that you will have to shell out several thousands of dollars in unexpected car repairs, medical bills, travel expenses, or an infinite number of other Murphy’s Law type expenses.

If you were really looking out for yourself in case of an emergency, you would be building an emergency fund. If you think that a credit card helps you feel secure, try a few thousand dollars in the bank. Operating with an emergency fund of at least a thousand dollars eliminates the need for a credit card.

Set up an automatic transfer of whatever you can afford to a savings account. You won’t miss it, and after several months you will start to build a real safety blanket. Just make sure that you never touch it except for emergencies! If you use your savings account for purchases, open a money market account to hold the sacred funds.

2. I Need it to Build Credit.

This is the one that got me. When I turned eighteen and left the house for college, I thought I was becoming an adult by getting a credit card. Unfortunately, at that age I had no idea what I was doing and ended up with over $20,000 in high interest debt.

If you are absolutely convinced that you need to build credit, take out a small loan from your local bank for a couple thousand dollars. Put the money in a savings account that you will never touch and set up automatic transfers back to the bank to pay it off over the duration of the loan.

3. I Need it for Airline Miles

Do you think that credit card companies would be giving out miles if they didn’t get their money back in some way? Some people think that they can faithfully make all of their purchases on their credit cards each month and pay off the balances before the interest kicks in. Let me tell you: there are very few people on this planet with that kind of discipline and I guarantee you that they are not creative types.

This is what I mean by being too smart for your own good. It sounds like a perfectly logical and even profitable plan, but thinking and doing are two different things. I have learned as I have grown older that even if I feel capable of doing something that requires discipline, it is best to err on the side of caution. This is especially true if the rewards are not very big. Why put yourself in constant temptation for a few crummy airline miles?

4. They Give me Cash Back

The credit card companies have us all thinking backwards. Somewhere along the line, they convinced us that we can actually make money by spending it. So let me get this straight, you want me to run up my card by several thousand dollars, pay you hundreds in interest, and in return you’ll give me twenty dollars back?

Oh, wait… you’re that one guy out of a million who has the discipline to pay off his card each month. You like to constantly monitor yourself, making sure you have enough to cover your bill at the end of the month so that you can make a measly ten bucks extra a month? Ten bucks, or even a hundred, is not worth my time and stress.

5. I Have the new Spend to Save Card

Just when I thought that the biggest switch-a-roo in history couldn’t be topped, the credit card companies convinced us that spending money could actually help us save. I don’t even know what to say about this. I’m speechless.

No, wait. I can’t let this one go. You actually think that the way to save money is to spend it? Try not spending it.

6. I Feel Powerful Using my Platinum Card

I sure felt great when they sent me my first platinum card. It was like I had been let into an elite group. It was fun to pull out at restaurants and flash around the table.

Now, when I see people flashing platinum at me, I can see right though it. Cash is what impresses me. Pull out a couple of hundos and slap ‘em on top of the check and you’ve got my attention.

7. Mine Has a Cool Picture On It

Do you find yourself getting cards with a logo from your alma mater? Do you think that going into debt will somehow make you a more loyal alumni member?

Once again, the card companies are playing off of our emotions to put us into a position to go into debt. Resist the temptation to get a card just because it is cool. Put some green presidents in your pocket like Franklin, Lincoln, Jackson, and Grant. Now those guys are cool.

8. I Don’t Make Enough Money to Pay For Stuff

If you are relying on your credit cards to live on, we have a serious problem. If this is the case, you need to do two things immediately:

1) Drop all but the most essential expenses. Sell your car, move to a smaller apartment, get rid of all of your gadgets.

2) Make some more money. Pick up overtime, get a part time job, or start selling stuff.

9. I Need More Toys/Gadgets/Stuff

We are so focused on possessions in today’s culture that we tend to think we need certain things to be respected by others. If you are falling to the pressure of keeping up with the Jones’, it might be time to take a look at where you are getting your self worth. If it is from your possessions and position in society, it is time to re-calibrate it to within yourself. You don’t need anything or anyone to tell you what you are worth.

10. I Got a 0% Introductory Rate

Sucker… Just because the interest rate is zero, doesn’t mean that you don’t owe them the money. It’s still debt.

I hope this has been enough to talk a few of you down from the ledge of the credit card skyscraper. If you are still convinced that you need one, well, maybe there’s nothing that will convince you of otherwise.

When I quit using credit cards, it wasn’t because I was making more money. In fact, I was making less. I just made do and found that I really didn’t miss them anyway.

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  1. buy car with bad credit October 30, 2011 at 5:17 am #

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  2. Matt April 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I like the post with the following exception. Installment loans are not a replacement for building credit with credit cards. I am new to trying to figure out how credit works so correct me if I’m wrong; but, you need revolving credit (credit cards) as well as installment loans (auto, college ect…)


  3. Ty March 19, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    Brian, I pay my balance off every month, that means no interest payments. The money that I would of used to pay that bill or whatever is in an account paying 5%pa (I am in Australia) for that month. So 1. I’d rather have the interest how ever small it is, 2. It may at least pay for inflation on that money.


    • Brian Lee March 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      Bless you for being so disciplined… I’m certainly not!


  4. Charles February 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Recently i decided to drive across the U.S.A. and Canada ..I put $5000,00 in cash in my vehicle (Hidden) ,Let me tell you ..The only place i could spend cash was in restuarants and most Gas stations..I could not find one hotel / motel that would take cash..Credit card only..No card ,,NO HOTEL….So they have got us …No card NO TRAVEL…


    • Brian Lee February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

      Sorry, but that’s still a pretty lame excuse. They’ll take a debit card (most have a visa or mc logo), which is not a credit card.


  5. Nate March 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    I agree with most of your reasons but I’m not sure I agree with your reasons on #4.

    My fiance and I have all of our bills setup to charge to our joint credit card with 1.5% cash back. We charge all of our groceries, gas, entertainment, pretty much everything we do together. We have never paid a dime of interest and we have actually made money (can’t remember the exact amount, i think it was around $150).

    Surely if you believe that physically driving to your candy machines once every two months makes your candy business passive income, then paying off your credit card once a month (from the comfort of your home) and collecting a check at the end of the year should be considered passive income as well!

    I agree that it is certainly easier for it to get out of hand if you just spend like crazy on your credit card. And you certainly shouldn’t spend more simply because you get cash back!


  6. Dave M December 1, 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    Hi Brian!

    Great post – and you’re exactly right for 99% of the people out there. In my case, it’s definitely excuse #3 and #4. However, I don’t care about airline miles – I like reward points that translate into dollars. :-)

    Now, I’m one of the rare few that can, and does, pay off their bill (IN FULL) every month. My wife and I use a Citi Drivers Edge Rewards card for just about everything. We generally run it up to around $3200 every month.

    Gas, groceries, restaurants, drugstores, auto repairs, gifts, etc. Anything and everything goes on that card.

    We get 5% back at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores. 1% back on everything else. I also get extra points for the miles I drive my car – and I drive quite a few.

    Last year, the points paid for our kids Christmas. This year, they’ve paid for some much needed things around the house, and will help pay for Christmas again.

    Here’s the thing…. I hate carrying cash and rarely do unless I’m traveling. It’s inconvenient. I also hate using a debit card because it’s dangerous. As much as I buy online and at various places around town, I’m a little paranoid about having my card number stolen.

    Unfortunately, it’s happened more than once. If my debit card number is stolen, someone could drain my entire account before I even realize what is happening.

    With a credit card, on the other hand, they can only get so far, and I won’t be held responsible for it anyway. All I need to do is call the card company, have it turned off, and dispute the charges. Sure, it’s still a hassle, but at least I still have all the cash in my checking account. :-)

    So, while I agree with everything in this post, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing until a better option comes along.


  7. Lisa July 17, 2007 at 1:16 pm #

    Just found your site – interesting information and much of it is great advice. Although I also strongly disagree with this:

    Some people think that they can faithfully make all of their purchases on their credit cards each month and pay off the balances before the interest kicks in. Let me tell you: there are very few people on this planet with that kind of discipline and I guarantee you that they are not creative types.

    First off I find your stereotyping of creative people as being undisciplined as being unfounded and insulting.

    I’ve never carried a credit card balance in over 25 years of having credit cards. I see no risk here – all my credit cards are set up to auto pay for the entire balance each month.

    I view credit cards as a simple tool to make life easier so I don’t have to carry cash about. Plus they pay me to use. It’s yet another form of passive income to be enjoyed.

    You ask in another comment:

    Why not just have the money and pay with cash?

    1) because I’d have to go get the cash – it’s inconvenient.
    2) because I get paid to use my credit card.
    3) because I get to buy everything with what amounts to an interest free loan. My money sits in my checking account earning interest for an average of 15 days before I have to actually pay for the items I’ve purchased. I’m get to use the credit card company’s money for free.

    Why risk going into further debt the next time an emergency happens?

    It’s about self control. If you think you can abuse your credit cards then you will. I don’t have that mind set. I’m not in debt and never have been. Nor is there any risk because I am not stupid enough to consider a 25% interest rate as reasonable. The thought alone should be enough to deter you from buying something you can’t afford. And I have an emergency cash fund incase of emergency.

    For a couple of airline miles?

    I earn a full round trip ticket each year plus additional cash back on other cards. I figure I’m making at least $300-$400 a year by using my credit cards. Certainly not a lot of money but why turn down free money?


  8. Brian Lee July 17, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    Thanks, Lisa.

    I realize a lot of people agree with you, and I can understand your line of logic. It obviously works for you, but I have seen too many people get into massive amounts of debt along that line of thinking.

    You’re right, it’s all about discipline. I don’t want to waste the energy that discipline requires on making $300-$400 a year. I’d rather put my finances on autopilot and put my discipline into creating income streams.

    You obviously have a lot more self control than I do!

    Thanks for being a Genius Types reader.


  9. Zach May 25, 2007 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Brian,
    love the website. I almost fell into the debt trap but luckily I caught myself and put a stop to debt spending before I even reached $1000 in the credit card hole. My parents tried to convince me not to even get a CC to begin with, “for my own good,” but I think it was appropriate to try it anyhow because I learned a lesson.

    What about buying stuff online? I like to buy books and information on the web. Do you recommend an alternative to credit cards for making online purchases?



  10. Brian Lee May 25, 2007 at 9:28 pm #

    Thanks, Zach. Make yourself at home!

    As for your question about online purchases, I make all of my online purchases with a debit card. It works exactly like a credit card, except you aren’t borrowing money.

    Paypal isn’t a bad way to go either. They are pretty much a full service bank now days. One advantage is they are paying around 5% interest on your balance, which is way higher than most checking accounts will pay.

    You can fund your PayPal account from a checking account and then get a PayPal debit card for purchases. In addition to the 5% return, you also get 1% back on your purchases, which is nice, especially since you don’t have to go into debt to get it.


  11. brianclee January 27, 2007 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m sure there are plenty of examples out there of people who are getting away with it, but the odds are stacked against us. Very few can pull it off and why even try?

    Why not just have the money and pay with cash? Why risk going into further debt the next time an emergency happens? For a couple of airline miles? It’s not for me.


  12. Denise S January 27, 2007 at 5:05 pm #

    It’s a great post and I do agree with almost every point… except one.

    I’m the “creative type,” and I pay my credit card bill in full — every month. I’m probably not the norm, but there are creative types out there who faithfully pay their bills on time so they don’t get interest charges shoved down their throat ;)


  13. Steven Aitchison January 14, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    I haven’t had a credit card for about 4 years and it’s amazing how many offers come in the post. However I have very tempted to use excuse number 2 to get a credit card but resisited the temptation.

    Great post, thanks.



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