To use credit cards or not to use credit cards is often a major debate among frugal folks. Some want to pay in cash all the time, and others advocate a wise use of credit cards.
To be honest, we’re still finding a balance for our use. We budget to pay off the cards in full each month since we use our 2 cards for online food purchases, gas purchases, and one utility payment. However, we’ve had a few times in the past few years where we needed to put a purchase on our card and pay it off over time like our fridge last year and our washing machine this year.
One card is a Upromise card which puts money into our children’s Pennsylvania TAP funds for college whenever we buy food or gas. The other is an Amazon card. Any points accumulated on this card go towards buying books on Amazon. Right now, I’m saving points for a new digital lens, along with collecting Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks.
Other Blogger’s Perspectives
I put the question out to my local blogging group, Philly Social Media Moms, to see how they handled credit card. It was wonderful to see how many were disciplined about their use of credit cards.
Nancy Vecchione (Defeating the Squirrels) – I have to say I rarely use mine anymore; I am a slave to my debit card though! I am sure if I’d lock that up and just put myself on a cash-only basis I’d have more money at the end of each pay period.
Debi Nine-Kids (Who Says Eight is Enough?) – We stopped using credit cards about 2 years ago. We do still have a debit card, but if we don’t have cash, we don’t buy it. (It severely limits us at times which can be painful when the kids want something but after getting so deeply in debt that we lost our home, we never want to go there again)
Jo-Lynne Shane (Musings of a Housewife) – We mostly use our debit card, and I try to keep track of funds. The AmEx is for vacations mostly.
Jessica Lane Mudrick (Delaware County Moms) – I use my credit card for almost every purchase because we get cash back which we then use for birthday & holiday gifts.
Stephanie Connors Friel (Mama Bears World) – We also use our credit cards for everything possible. The cards are paid off each month, so we never carry a balance. Also, we review our purchases each month to make sure we are spending wisely (we have a budget too). We have rewards so my husband and I use those to treat ourselves to dinners out!
Lisa Lightner (Smart Spending Spot) – If you have the self-discipline to keep credit cards paid off and not carry a balance, plus you are organized enough to monitor them (so you don’t get late fees and so on), they can be great. In addition to earning points and rewards like others have mentioned–you sometimes can get free shipping, special or additional discounts, special coupons in the mail and so on.
Heather Wray (Local Fun for Kids) – Our motto is simple: If we don’t have the money to pay for something, we don’t buy it. We basically use credit cards and debit instead of cash, and I love earning money back from our Citibank card.
Melissa Jellen Angert (Girly Mama) – We use credit for everything possible – we have a card with points and use them to take vacations and pay for christmas. We never carry a balance, though. My husband’s company used to have us put all his travel on our cc, but they just stopped and gave him a corporate card. It’s so annoying! We got sooooo many points doing that! (Of course, I don’t miss scrambling to cover a $10,000 bill when the reimbursement dept was running behind.)
Stephanie Anderson (Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom) – We never intended on using credit cards – and had no credit card debt until 2 years ago when we bought our house. There were odds and ends we needed, so we put it on the card since our monthly budget was transitioning and our savings was wiped from the purchase of the home. We only use it for NECESSARY things – but might not have the money for (especially if it’s a surprise – like needing tires for the car or work done on the house). I’m sad to say it’s climbed higher than I’d like – and I’d like to do away with it for good. I can’t rest easy knowing there is that debt.
Michelle Goldman Wolfson (Mommy Confessions) – We canceled any of our cards that were not willing to negotiate a lower interest rate for us. We now have one card that we keep at a zero balance that is for emergencies. We also have a card that we use for more frequent purchases, that gives us cash back and rewards points. We try never to put more on a card than we would be able to pay off at month’s end. Of course, there are always exceptions to that rule.
Heather McCurdy (Keeping it Real in the Kitchen and Beyond) – We just paid off our credit card balance after 7 years of using one. It sucked. We had a really tight budget and sometimes splurged but not too often – a lot was things we had no choice to buy too. We will not use the one that has horrible interest, but need to leave it open so it doesn’t mess with our prospects of buying a hosue in the (hopefully) near future. We now ONLY use the credit card to pay for things we have money for. We made sure we are using one that gets us rewards and pay it off before it’s due or the interest negates those rewards. No control to only buy what there’s money for or it gets out of control one month? The card goes in the safe for a few months until we can restart fresh and right again.
Colleen Kennedy (Souffle Bombay | Picture Me Cooking) – A number of years ago, I cut credit cards out of my life. I fould that often, when using a credit card, I more easily justified the over-expense of an item or just did’nt pay attention to the price at all. I stick to using my debit cards.
Darla DeMorrow (Heart Work Organizing) – Wow, I love hearing so many of you say that balances are paid at month end, which is what we do. If you listen to the media, it sounds like no one does that anymore. Credit isn’t evil, but it is so seductive.
Beth Hellmers Christian (editor at Jersey Bites | New Jersey Healthcare) – We never carry a balance- we use travel reward cards which have provided us with great trips and memories. You have to be extraordinarily disciplined, though. I put my kids’ college tuition on the cards using a monthly payment option and we got a lot of points that way. I was told that when my daughter’s school (St. Joseph’s University) ended the credit card payment option (which had no convenience fee), the savvy travel card parents overloaded their servers getting those last credit card payments in! We monitor our credit reports periodically, and we check our pending charges for the month on a regular basis.