Mug Hannah Ball, Staff Reporter

Tri-County Times | Hannah Ball

 I am 24 years old and have never taken out a credit card. I don’t see the point.  

 Using a debit card is more responsible. The money is automatically taken out of your account, which means you can’t spend money you don’t have. That leaves less chance for debt and defaulting. It’s one less bill I have to worry about paying. I don’t worry about spending more than my limit, I don’t have to pay interest on anything I buy with my debit card, and it’s one less card in my wallet.

 I often hear that you need a credit card to build credit. Such malarkey. I built my credit score by paying off my student loans, paying for my car, my phone, and various other adult bills.

 I see why it’s popular— it’s small, fits in your wallet, and you can buy nearly everything with it. The universal credit card came out in 1950, and American Express came out with its card in 1958. Now, it’s estimated that 248 million adults in the U.S., which is approximately 70 percent of the population, have at least one of these shiny pieces of plastic, according to creditcards.com.

 Americans have amassed an estimated $905 billion in credit card debt in 2017, according to nerdwallet.com. That number is staggering and I want no part of it. Credit cards are a great example of how normal it is to be in debt in America. I already have enough debt with my student loans, thank you. Credit card companies charge you interest if you don’t pay the full balance every month so they benefit if you can’t pay your bill.

 I reached out to The State Bank and asked why I should get one. Stacey Webb, senior vice president of retail banking, said, “Many people use a credit card as an emergency source of funds. Credit cards also come in handy to guarantee a hotel reservation or for renting a car.

 “Proper handling of a credit card can help establish credit as one of the factors in credit scoring is the ability to demonstrate timely repayment. Charging one item per month and paying the balance in full is great way to demonstrate ability to repay. Paying the balance in full each month also avoids interest charges,” she said.   

 She has valid points. A credit card would be handy in an emergency. I’ve never had an issue with booking a hotel room with my debit card, but I don’t travel that often, so that could be an issue. I learned from one of Vera Hogan’s columns that some car rental companies only take credit cards. That could also be problematic.

 Ultimately, I’ll probably get a credit card. I like the idea of earning points for flights and cash back. But I loathe the whole system. The idea of swiping a card, taking home the item you “paid” for, and then paying it off at the end of the month will never seem very efficient to me.

 In the past, many people lived from paycheck to paycheck. Today, it seems many live from credit card payment to credit card payment.

Opinions offered in this coloumn are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email Hannah at hball@tctimes.com.

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