10 Big Reasons Why I Love (and Hate) Credit Cards

The other day I overheard a couple of nice ladies going on and on about why they loved, loved, LOVED their credit cards.

And let me tell you, they really loved them.

At first, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Like most people, I have a few credit cards in my wallet — but I typically don’t go around extolling the virtues of them to my friends.

You know, the more I think about it, the fact is there are a lot of things I like about credit cards too. Then again, there’s stuff I dislike about credit cards. And why not? After all, credit cards have their advantages and disadvantages.

So to prove it, I compiled this list of 10 reasons why I love — and hate — my credit cards. How does it compare with yours?

10 Big Reasons Why I LOVE My Credit Cards

10. With a little practice, a credit card provides a fail-safe back-up for opening the office door on mornings when I forget my key.

9. The small print on the back side of my credit cards makes for an awesome Scrabble cheat sheet. (Okay, this one is a stretch — especially now that I find myself needing “cheaters” to read.)

8. I can get my interest charges waived on the rare occasions that I forget to make my credit card payments on time.

7. If I lose a credit card, I can usually call and get a replacement within 24 hours. (Don’t try calling the US Treasury for a replacement if you lose a $100 bill.)

6. Because I use credit cards for almost everything I buy, my credit card companies act as a very effective de facto expense-tracking service for me.

5. The consumer protections offered by credit cards are like having a big brother at my side every time I make a purchase.

4. As a victim of two armed robberies, I appreciate that my credit cards allow me to shop for big-ticket items without having to carry big wads of cash.

3. When it comes to online purchases, credit cards and the Internet are a match made in heaven.

2. When used responsibly, credit cards help build my credit score — and that ensures my continued eligibility for the best long-term loan deals.

1. Many credit cards offer rewards just for using the card; I estimate that I’ve earned well over $5000 in cash and other perks since 2005 — and that’s the easiest money I’ve ever made!

10 Big Reasons Why I Absolutely HATE My Credit Cards

10. After two decades of loyalty, none of my credit card issuers have ever made me their “Customer of the Month.”

9. Even though credit cards can be quickly replaced when lost or stolen, it’s still a pain when you have to update your new credit card number at multiple websites.

8. They’re ugly. (Yes, this is another stretch. No, I don’t have one of those cards with my face on the front of it.)

7. Credit card numbers are too long and, therefore, hard to remember.

6. I occasionally call my credit card customer service departments to request a shorter number — like, say, “6″ — but they always refuse.

5. The annual cash dividend payouts are typically limited to $300.

4. Their terms and conditions change more frequently than Denny’s changes their soup du jour

3. … and it often helps to have a lawyer on hand to decipher those terms and conditions.

2. Despite my high credit rating and proven track record of always paying off my creditors, I’m still subjected to absurdly high interest rates approaching 30%.

1. My credit card companies never fail to send me the monthly bill.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some shopping to do. Yes, I’ll be using a credit card; but, as always, I’ll also be paying off the full balance at the end of the month to avoid paying those onerous interest charges.

Of course, you know what that means: There goes yet another chance of me winning their “Customer of the Month” award.

Photo Credit: The Consumerist

26 comments to 10 Big Reasons Why I Love (and Hate) Credit Cards

  • kenyantykoon

    i hate credit cards because of that incredibly deceptive feeling of having more money than you really have and after a while dig you into a financial hole. the plastic is not for the faint of heart.

  • I hate the feeling of getting cheated and that’s exactly what credit card companies are doing. They are cheating consumers. And, it’s more than just some basic trickery, it’s a systematic exploitation of the most vulnerable people.

    And, now that the Government is finally starting to crack down on this, you would think they would back off a little, but just the opposite has happened. They have said arrogantly, “if you don’t let us exploit people, we can’t make an obscene profit for bonuses, so we will restrain credit, cut services and find new ways to cheat people.”

    I think they have underestimated how pi$$ed off people are about this bailout and they are starting to trigger a whole series of reforms. I’m not one for heavy regulation, but it’s long overdue. The Government needs to reinstate the Glass-Steagal act and find a new way to enforce usury rates.

  • This is a very cleverly written post and the reasons why you hate the card made me laugh. My favorite was #6 in why you hate the card. Seriously? 6?

  • Susan Tiner

    You might need more than a lawyer to decipher the terms and conditions! In an article on NPR, Elizabeth Warren tells the story of how she asked her close to graduating third-year Harvard law students, per a given card’s terms, “What’s the effective interest rate, and under what circumstances will you get the 3% cash back?” It took an hour for 80 students working on the problem to come up with an answer.

  • Right now my ‘cons’ are bigger than the pros, so I decided to not use credit cards. It’s true in my country they’re not as well regulated, not to mention the bank fees are overall insane. I think I’ll actually start working with cash more :D

    • Len Penzo

      I think a lot of people out there would agree with you, dojo.

      When it comes to credit cards, I’m sure I have a minority opinion.

  • Two armed robberies! Where do you hang out, Len?

    And yes–why are credit card numbers so long? Even a good password is only 8 characters.

    • Len Penzo

      You make a good point about passwords. Can you imagine if our credit card “numbers” had to have at least one capital letter and one of those strange characters like # or % or *?

      As for the robberies … I grew up in a tough town, to be sure — although there were plenty of rougher places in Southern California to grow up.

      By the way, one of those two robberies actually resulted in shots being fired. No lie.

  • “They’re ugly. (Yes, this is another stretch. No, I don’t have one of those cards with my face on the front of it.)”

    Ha ha. The funniest thing in the whole list :)

    Also, there have got to be cards with better rates than 30%. Are you eligible for USAA or Navy Federal? I’m with both and they offer very reasonable rates.

    • Len Penzo

      I’m sure I could find a card with lower rates, but I’m too lazy to look, DB. But it really doesn’t matter since I don’t pay interest anyway.

  • Sean

    As long as you don’t carry a balance, it’s free money. I have a 1.5% cash back on all purchases card (no limit) and make sure to pay off all purchases weekly. I treat my credit card as a checking account.

  • I’m personally glad I can’t remember the 16 digit number. It makes me think twice before I checkout!

  • This is a very amusing article and I especially the list of ‘why I hate credit cards’. True, they change their terms and conditions every so frequently and mysteriously and their reward points never match the profits we let these companies make…

  • Credit card is one of the most common sources of financial ruin but then again, if you are a responsible spender you definitely get more out of it. Bottomline is…credit cards should be handled with care.

  • Hey, now, I don’t LOVE my credit card, but I appreciate getting stuff for doing a whole lotta nuthin’. For example, I will be getting about $10k in travel and cash rewards this year alone from credit cards. I stay one budget (for the most part), and don’t spend more than I normally would, but then I get all these rewards and junk thrown my way. WOOHOO!

    But I agree. CC numbers are ridiculous. Have you ever tried paying by phone? “No, I said 9, not mine. Yes…this card is mine. Yes, I’m doing fine, but I said this card is mine. No…I am not committing a crime….JUST LET ME PAY!”

  • Spedie

    Proposed Reason #11 why Len hates his Credit Card: If he did not have a credit card, he would not have spent time writing this post!! LOL

    I cut the credit card cord, totally, on 12/25/07 (yes, on Xmas day!) I can say, without a doubt, after being a credit card lover for many years (and paying it off faithfully, in full, every month for 13 years), that this was one of the best decisions in my life.

    And, noooo, my FICO remains very high and desirable, even all these years later…

    Try it. You just might like it!! You can always get another credit card if you do not like the idea.

    • Len Penzo

      I wish I could, but I don’t think I could live without mine, Spedie. I love the convenience they provide me. (I’d also hate to miss out on all the rewards I get.)

  • Mike

    #8 – “They’re Ugly” — I have a card that allows you to upload a picture for the card’s front image… I uploaded a family picture that my wife didn’t love (although we got lots of positive feedback on the card).

    The net result was that she used the card less (because she didn’t want everyone to see the picture on the card — who knows, maybe it saved us money!)

  • eristdoof

    You forgot the most useful thing about credit cards… They are the best scrapers around. Use on anything that a brush won’t budge, and as long as you’re careful you won’t scratch the thing that the gunk’s stuck to.

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