Sunday, February 24, 2008

Credit Cards...Friend or Foe?

If cash is king, than it is in danger of losing its crown to plastic.

Now more than ever American consumers are making transactions with credit cards instead of cash. While there is clearly a convenience in using credit cards, it speaks to a greater weakness facing Americans...the ability to say no to a want.

We should be familiar with the word no. Chances are parents used this term to discourage excessive behaviors. Maybe it was the word a guy heard when he asked a girl out on a date. Yet most Americans do not like it when someone tells them no. It is almost a word of slavery...who are you to tell me no? Our rebellious attitude may get us into a quagmire of debt unless we learn to say NO when it comes to discretionary consumer spending.

But we live in a society that is riddled with phrases "You deserve it", "Why not, you owe it to yourself", and "I need it now!" The most basic lessons of self-denial are forgotten like yesterday's paper.

So now our fellow countrymen have really done it to themselves. While they could not afford the wide screen TV, the trip to Cancun, and an extravagant Christmas, they simply charged it. And now many consumers are paying the price.

The credit cards that helped us say yes when we should have said no have their own agendas. The fine print on the credit card applications mention words life variable rates and late fees. Yes credit card companies can change the rules without telling the consumer. Please see Card Sharks

There are several methods of returning to financial stability:
1. Review the terms and agreements found on your current credit card.
2. Should you find unfavorable terms for the credit card, shop you other options
3. While some people get rid of their credit cards by cutting them up, I believe it is almost impractical. We live in a society that is constantly changing and evolving. A credit card is a must. However, learning self-denial...understanding needs vs wants are the more important lesson.

In the end a credit card is like a power tool. They can make life easy, however the user must beware of the hazzards associated with them.

Here is a letter I sent to the authors of Card Sharks. I also gave these lovely ladies a link to this blog for additional insight.

Dear Tatyana,

I had a chance to read the good article that you and Liz Moyer put together called Card Sharks.

I agree with you you whole heartedly regarding the shell game that many credit card companies are playing with their unwitting clients. It is another example where a consumer (who would never) read the terms and conditions of the credit card, can himself in an extremely precarious situation.

However, I believe a consumer must constantly shop for new credit cards. Now more than ever, consumer can make educated choices about the types of plastic they use. If a consumer feels slighted by a card company, there are many others who will gladly take that business.

I would invite you and Liz to post to my
and visit my website to see a phenomenal example of the choice that consumers have regarding their credit cards. Please feel free to use any information you would like on the credit mall website.

Brian A. Davis


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