What Not To Do With Your Credit Cards

Credit cards are tools that can make your life easier and give you more financial power, but they also provide a quick path to financial ruin. It’s important to use common sense when wielding the massive buying power that plastic provides, especially if you’ve just started using credit.

Life and My Finances warns against making mistakes with credit cards. Treating credit as a way to spend above your means for things you don’t need is a major no-no. Signing up for department store cards in order to receive tiny discounts, making big-ticket buys in snap decisions and lending your card to others are also bad ideas that you may end up paying for in more ways than one.

Check out the source link for other mistakes to avoid, as well as savvy ways to use credit cards.

Credit Card Dos and Don’ts [Life and My Finances]

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  1. Cat says:

    Don’t use your credit cards to scrape the ice off your windshield.

  2. FatLynn says:

    I just found out that a Target card gets 5% off every purchase at Target, so now I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to get one.

    • tkmluv says:

      You can also get a Target debit card that is linked to your checking account and still get the 5% off without getting their store card.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        why would you want something like this?

        • tkmluv says:

          To still get the 5% discount without signing up for their credit card.

          Target Debit Card Info

          • dolemite says:

            Yeah but…a debit card is not a credit card. If something shifty happens with that, you could have thousands of dollars in your checking account tied up for weeks while they “investigate”. A credit card does not have this problem.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            according to that link they aren’t even accepting credit card applications right now. wonder why…..

            i applied for a target credit card a couple of years ago, which is how i found out that they use transunion and my CU doesn’t report to transunion. so target’s financier can’t see my oldest credit card, paid off loan, mortgage or car loan. i was declined. it was educational

        • theduckay says:

          Not sure why you respond to a comment that basically says “you can get 5% off every Target purchase” asking why someone would want that. Maybe someone wants it because you get 5% off every Target purchase. Some of us, you know, like discounts…

    • vorpalette says:

      I have one. I actually signed up back when they were doing 10% (or 20%?) off when you opened your card and was buying a bunch of stuff (including luggage) for our cruise. You can pay it off right after you use it at the register, which is great. I shop at Target a lot, though, so it’s probably only worth it if you purchase a lot there. Oh, and they never increase your credit limit. I’ve had the card for 2 years and have had a $300 limit since I opened the card.

    • areaman says:

      I’ve thinking about getting a Target credit card as well.

      On one hand, I buy a bunch of every day, house hold stuff there.

      On the the other hand, I already use a 1% cash back credit card.

      Right now I’m stuck on “Is it worth 4% off to extra credit card?”

  3. zantafio says:

    Do use your credit card to open doors

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Don’t use your credit card to pay for drinks at a Greek strip club.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I somewhat disagree with the article when it comes to getting a credit card for a small discount. A 10% discount is relative to what you’re buying. A pair of pants? No, don’t sign up for a card to get 10% off. A lot of furniture? Signing up for the card could save you hundreds of dollars. I agree that you shouldn’t sign up for many cards just for the store discount, but if you’re making a large purchase, the one store card could save you a lot of money.

    • FatLynn says:

      When I first went into the workforce, I dropped about $700 at Banana Republic in one visit. I got 15% off, so that was a huge saving, and I cancelled the card a few weeks later. If your credit is good enough, a single inquiry isn’t going to matter.

    • CalicoGal says:

      This.
      I got a new job a while back and needed to upgrade my wardrobe. I went to a clothier and spent about $350. I signed up for their card on the spot and saved something like 20%.
      Paid it off when I got the bill, and closed the account.
      The inquiry on my credit report didn’t bother me since I rarely have any.

      It was worth it in this case!

      • pythonspam says:

        I can see it now… “GMAC now offering a credit card where you get 5% back on a new car purchase for customers who want easy financing terms” (sure its 19.88% APR) but its 5% Cash Back!

        Although to be fair, if I was going to buy a new car, I would negotiate to the best cash price, do this “credit card offer” and pay if off in cash like I was going to at the beginning. Straight up 5% discount.

  6. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Do not use them as your primary weapon in a gun or knife fight.

    Do not use them to invade Poland in September 1939.

    Do not use them to set lap times at the Nürburgring.

    Do not attempt to use them as a cooking surface. They are typically not heat resistant.

    Do not use them to generate sufficient energy to split atoms.

    I think there’s a few more don’ts but I don’t have the time.

  7. maxamus2 says:

    It amazes me how many people write the same article over and over. I see articles like this, written by different people but with the SAME info, at least monthly.

    And at that, it amazes me at how the “advice” they give is just common knowledge. If you learned anything from an article like this it just shows you are an idiot and you will be taken or do stupid things and reading an article will not change that.

  8. SeattleSeven says:

    DON’T Forget that Credit Cards offer More Protection than Debit Cards

    This! If you are roaming around town using your debit card for everything, you are doing it wrong.
    You are leaving free money on the table AND making your life much more difficult when something, anything fraudulent happens.

  9. dilbert69 says:

    The American Express Card: Don’t break into a home without it.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    “when wielding the massive buying power that plastic provides”

    I though that credit card companies went on a charging limit slashing spree and that nobody but the 1% had “massive plastic buying power” anymore.

  11. Major Tom Coming Home says:

    My parents are both on my credit card account. They make their purchases with it and give me the money for said purchases, and I get the rewards. Dad doesn’t like using or even having credit cards, but for some reason he has no problem using mine and paying me for the purchases. I obviously trust my parents…

  12. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    The left out Don’t ever use a credit card to open a tab at a strip club.

  13. krom says:

    I used my credit cards for a while for the benefits, fully intending to pay them off with my checking account. Somehow, I didn’t manage to actually do that. I’ve gone back to using my checking account for purchases, but I still racked up plenty of credit card debt.

    I’d still like to actually be able to do that, but I know I’ll need much more dedication to avoid the same hole.

  14. Yomiko says:

    My aunt is one of the most financially savvy people I know, but she repeatedly opens store credit cards for the discounts, closes the accounts, and reopens them at the same stores later. It drives me nuts that she doesn’t believe me that it’s a bad idea. Apparently her credit is so stellar otherwise that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. I guess I just don’t understand how she can open and close a Macy’s card five times and they still open a sixth for her (more evidence of her good credit rating, I guess).

  15. Daddy-o says:

    For me, a credit card is an interest-free loan and a convenient method to pay for everything with one EFT. I only buy what I can afford, always pay in full on time, have had the same two credit cards for more than 16 years, have zero interest in cash-back, miles or bonus points and see no reason to change.

    Credit card companies hate me.

  16. MikeVx says:

    Plastic of any variety should be reserved for cash-not-feasible moments (on-line, amount too large to carry safely, bad day and ran out of cash). Reality being what it is, there are times when spending money you don’t yet have is the only way you’re going to remain operational. While it was a pain doing the payoff thing, and only being done now because of an inheritance, the car repairs that ate my emergency fund and chomped heavily into the credit had to be done. My circumstances mean that I have to have an operational car.

    I’m now building up my emergency fund again, and trying to keep to the cash-when-feasible thing, resorting to plastic in the order debit-credit, based on the circumstances. I’m trying to keep the credit idle apart from some monthly charges that are sent there instead of the debit card specifically to keep the credit card account active.