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Question:


Are credit cards that bad? My fiancé insists that I should only use cash and debit cards to stay debt free.
-MakingItWork


Answer:


Credit cards aren’t bad, but cardholders can use them badly. Strictly speaking, you won’t remain debt free if you charge purchases with a credit card, but as long as you pay off your balance every month, you won’t incur any interest charges. You could even come out ahead by accumulating points or cash back or one of the other perks that card issuers dangle in front of customers to try to get them into the charging habit. Not only that, but by using a credit card (or a debit card), you don’t need to carry as much cash with you, reducing the risk of theft. Also, you get free use of someone else’s money for as much as a month and a half, and you can establish a good credit history in case you and your husband-in-waiting decide to buy a home. So why do credit cards have such a bad reputation? Because cardholders are not always, or even often, that diligent about paying the balance off every month, and many end up getting into far greater debt than they expected or are able to handle. One other thing: It’s none of my business, but you said that your fiancé insists that you not use credit cards. That makes me wonder whether he intends to take his own advice, or admonishment, and swear off credit card use when it comes to his own spending.

-Conrad de Aenlle



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