When To Keep Your Credit Cards Safely In Your Wallet

Yesterday we addressed reasons you shouldn’t use a credit card to pay your taxes, and there are several other situations in which personal finance experts recommend keeping your cards holstered. Fees, interest charges and security pitfalls are reasons to opt for other methods of payment.

Free From Broke identifies a few:

* When a salesman calls you up. If you get a cold call, you’re best off assuming the person on the other end of the line is a thief attempting to make off with your credit card info. Don’t let yourself be victimized.

* Bills you pay via the mail. Some places of business — most notably medical offices — still love to send out paper invoices, often allowing you to fill out your credit card info and send them back. To avoid the risk that your numbers will get into the wrong hands, pay via check or by calling the office directly.

* Loans. Going into debt to pay off other debt is a sign that you’ve got major financial problems. Long-term credit card interest usually tops that which you’ll find from car dealerships and bank loans, so it’s wise to use almost any other available means to foot the payment.

Four Places Not to Use Your Credit Card [Free From Broke]

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  1. Hi_Hello says:

    Bills you pay via the mail – Most of these places will charge your a convenient fee if you call them to pay over the phone by credit card.

  2. yurei avalon says:

    I disagree on the bills you pay in the mail bit. Far better for them to get my CC number which I can have cancelled and reissued fairly quickly and easily then for them to get a hold of a checking with my account number. With a check they have direct access to your funds, it’s a pain in the ass to close a checking account and make the changes everywhere, plus they can attempt to use a cancelled check again in like 6 months or something can’t they? Thus dragging out the process.

    • eturowski says:

      +1

      • yurei avalon says:

        I also forgot the part where your liability with CC’s is limited and you’re much better protected than with a checking account.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      It would be interesting to see a breakdown in identity theft in credit cards vs. fraudulent checks.

      For how theoretically easy it would be to cause damage with account & routing numbers, it seems like credit cards are still the primary target.

    • ben says:

      Agreed. And actually, what I usually do in cases like this — specifically for my dentist bills — is call up the office and give them my credit card number over the phone.

    • psm321 says:

      I came to the comments to say exactly this. :)

  3. sufreak says:

    My coworker has a deal to use his credit card to pay his mortgage. (Both from the same company). I’m totally using that for my next mortgage/refi. I’d love to have a single bill and the points for it.

    • humphrmi says:

      I’ve been thinking about charging my mortgage payment on my credit card (again, both same banks) but I am leery about fees, which bank are you with, and do they charge fees for this?

      If it doesn’t cost me anything, I’m probably going to do it.

    • Rachacha says:

      I paid for a significant portion of my college education this way using a General Motors credit card. By the time I graduated, I needed a new vehicle, and the rewards, and recent college graduate discount went a long way to make the car that much more affordable.

  4. Cat says:

    A Car Loan: Not always a bad idea. Even without an introductory 0% rate.

    One year, with my old beast failing rapidly, I was offered $3000 @ 0% for 1 year, no fee. I found a used car (93 Saturn, I miss that car) and paid exactly $3000 for it. I paid $250 a month for 12 months and owned the car for 5 years before I was forced to sell it due to relocation.

    Another time I had to get a cheap second car, and I knew I would have a large tax refund due in a few months (just got married). Used a credit card at 7.5% and made payments until the refund came 3 months later.

  5. eturowski says:

    If a salesman cold calls me, I have already decided not to buy his product. If I need something, I will seek out the best product and price, and if I want something, I will want it enough to do the same. If someone seeks me out to peddle their wares, I am not biting.

  6. maxamus2 says:

    I’m not quite sure how paying a bill via the mail with credit card is worse than paying over the internet with credit card.

    • Cat says:

      Meth heads have easy access to your mailbox.

      They generally do not fall into the “rocket scientist” category, tending to sell stolen computers for their next high rather than use them to hack into credit card databases.

      • sponica says:

        but I usually don’t send outgoing mail via my mailbox….they’re usually dropped off in the blue box outside the PO, or when I’m not lazy, I put them in the slot inside the post office.

        come to think of it I rarely use the mailbox for outgoing mail, I generally drop it off at the post office (post office is 1/2 mile away and is on the way to practically everywhere I go)

  7. SeattleSeven says:

    “To avoid the risk that your numbers will get into the wrong hands, pay via check.”

    WHAT!? Because I would rather that person print up unlimited amounts of checks with my account info and spend my money… As opposed to them using a credit card and spending the credit card company money which is not my problem and I do not have to repay or file a police report or do anything at all expect wait for my new card in mail?

    Got it! Great advice.

  8. CreditSense-CreditRecovery says:

    Great tips Phil!

  9. Woodside Park Bob says:

    I’d add to the list restaurants where you give the card to the server to take somewhere and run through their machine. There have been too many reports of cards being cloned in such circumstances. It may be inconvenient to pay by cash, but it is safer.

  10. MikeVx says:

    I also don’t buy from inbound calls, that’s Just No, always.

    All recurring bills I get by mail get paid via my ancient CheckFree account, which can draw n my choice of accounts per bill if I wish. The four that actually get sent checks by the system I consider low-risk for captured number fraud.

    For one-offs I either use my ING Electric Orange to send a check, or I use a debit card on the target company web site. I actually prefer to use ING for that sort of thing because of the ease of sending a single check and the fact that the way they process them means that capturing the numbers cannot come back to bite me. How long Crapital None will let this last concerns me, but I’ll use it while I have it.

    Beyond that, the cards are limited to on-line purchases, impractical-to-carry amounts of money, and out-of-cash errors. The actual credit card is now down to some monthly charges to keep it active, and I mean to keep it that way if at all possible.