You've Got Too Much Credit Card Debt If…

From Bankrate:

You’re too far in debt …

1. If you can’t remember the last time you had zero balances on all your credit cards.

2. If your FICO score is below 650.

3. If you don’t remember what you bought on your credit card last month.

4. If you don’t really know how many coffees, teas, soft drinks or snacks you buy every week.

5. If you use your credit card for utilities, food, snacks and so on, and you’re not doing it to earn frequent flier or bonus points.

6. If you have money in a 401(k), but you have to live on your credit cards in order to put it there.

7. If you have no money in any sort of general savings account.

8. If you’re still paying for restaurant meals you can’t remember eating.

9. If you have to take a cash advance from one credit card to make a payment on another one.

10. If you ever held a garage sale to raise money to make credit card payments.

Ouch, that’s not you is it? Discuss. —MEGHANN MARCO

Indicators when credit card debt is too high [Bankrate]
(Photo: Ben Popken)


Edit Your Comment

  1. firestarsolo says:

    The best rule to be given is ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.’

    It has kept me debt free for a long time, and if something comes along that is a necessity that I can’t afford (e.g., new tires for a car), I find a way to afford it…we all have hobbies we can make money off of, right?

    Or if you’re prompt in paying it off, you can always try bumming money off of your friends. . .

  2. rmz says:

    I take issue with #2. If you have little credit (different from bad credit) such as being fresh out of school with no loan/fixed payment history, no positive credit history, etc., your score may be below 650.

  3. alterboy says:

    Uhm. I don’t think I know one person who wouldn’t apply to any of those.

  4. JustAGuy2 says:

    I don’t really know what #4 has to do with anything (I doubt Bill Gates can tell you how many he’s had in the last week).

    Other than #4, I think you could combine the others into:

    1. You carried a balance last month at a rate above the after-tax returns on an ING Savings Account.

  5. I have not had CCs for several years and my credit score is below 650. owning a business can be ugly sometimes.

  6. Hanover-Fiste says:

    Nice touch using the downtrodden Starbucks Guy pic.

  7. Yourhero88 says:

    Never owned a credit card, never will.

  8. aparsons says:

    I put everything on 1 single credit card, but only because when I import it into quicken, everything is organized. I know how much I spent on food, gas, groceries, dining out, etc. Carrying cash is a pain in the ass because at the end of the week, you have no idea what you spent cash on. I think #9 is the only one where the “You know you are in credit card trouble if…” statement applies.

  9. enm4r says:

    5. If you use your credit card for utilities, food, snacks and so on, and you’re not doing it to earn frequent flier or bonus points.

    Even if I didn’t earn cash back, though I do, I’d probably pay with my credit card for everything. This includes any and all utilities, etc. It’s a lot easier to transfer money one time at the end of the money for the total you spent that month, than it is to make little payments here and there. I don’t see why people constantly argue against this. How would this not help you keep track of your finances?

  10. DjDynasty says:

    I put everything on one credit card, snacks, food, everything just so I can look at it all on one statement every month to see what I should cut out, It makes it easier than keeping track of reciepts, I pay off 90% of my credit card before the grace period ends, and the remaining 10% is gone by the time the next statement comes. It’s helped me cut out useless starbucks, spending to much on gas, at the movies, because of entertainment expenses. I now stay home more, even though I still eat out!

  11. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Someone once gave me the advice of “if you will be done “enjoying” it by the time the next bill comes, it shouldn’t be going on your credit card”. That applies to things like food, snacks, etc. I think that’s pretty decent advice.

  12. rg says:

    Number one is a little whacked. I use my credit card every month. I pay my credit card off every month. Thus, I don’t remember ever having a zero balance on my credit card. There is no balance carried over, it’s a fresh bill every month. So why is that a bad thing? And…as far as a credit rating, i’m rated lower because i do pay off my balance, as opposed to someone that carries a balance.

  13. jak312 says:

    #3 seems a bit over the top. We put dozens and dozens of charges on our main card every month, adding up to several thousand dollars (which is paid in full every month). I’m never going to remember all that. The article’s 20%-of-take-home figure also strikes me as small. But then again, our main credit card is our main financial transaction tool.

    #4 strikes me as a bit silly as well. Your coffee habits have nothing to do with debt. Yes, you might be spending way more on mochas than you ever imagined, but that has little to do with if you can afford it or not… If you can afford it, you likely don’t really care, and if you can’t afford it, knowing the exact number doesn’t fix anything unless you actually cut back. If your tight on cash, it is a great place to look, however. That morning coffee on the way to work that is “only” $3.50 adds up to over $70 most months.

    I also find it highly ironic that when I pulled up the article that was referenced, the page included two ads– both for “better” credit cards.

  14. sonichghog says:

    I have lots oc CC debt. About 28K of it. I used the special offer checks from 2 CC companies to pay off 2 cars.

    As long as I make my payments on time the 1.99% rate for them will not go up.

    Its better than what the bank gave me for the cars (5.9%)

    Low interest CCs are nice, its the ones that bite you for more than 20% that are problems.

  15. Brad2723 says:

    If you’re the type that can (and does) pay off your credit card at the end of every month, then nothing on this list applies to you except for number 4 or 5. But then again, what difference does it make? You’re paying the balance off every month.

  16. filmhack9 says:

    @rmz: 100% correct, there are a ton of non-deadbeat reasons to have a mid 600’s FICO, and without derogatories it’s not that hard add 20-40 points in a few months…

  17. soap1000 says:

    1. Check 2. Check 3. Check 4. Check…

    Take it from an seasoned champ, lay off the Qdoba Burittos and pay those Verizon bills cause APR is a bitch.

  18. AngelaR says:

    Yourhero88: You don’t own credit cards, they own you.

    And they have owned me for quite some time. However, I paid off two credit cards today. Just one more to pay off — a personal loan — the only debts remaining are cars and house. Feels good. Feels real good.

  19. Kangarara says:

    Many of those are not really problems as the posters above have so succinctly pointed out.

    Adding my voice to the fray, everything that can go on a card does (better purchase/fraud protection, better tracking) and it all gets paid off at the end of each month. That said, given how much I use it, I don’t recall what I’ve used it for until I check the bill.

    3, 4, 5 are not issues in and of themselves, only when combined with a number of the others.

  20. AcidReign says:

    …..I don’t see how not having a general savings account qualifies you for “too much credit card debt.” I haven’t had a savings account since the 1980s S&L crisis. Yet, I always pay my card off every month.

    …..I leave my money in my interest checking account. If I get too far up into five figures, I buy something decent, like shares of a blue-chip mutual fund. Otherwise, I want that money liquid.

  21. mantari says:

    Ah, good ‘ole #9. Back when I was in college, it was an even better deal. It seems that the local convenience store would let you purchase money orders with your credit card. Can you say ‘no cash advance fees’? So I’d take one card and get a money order to make the payment on the other card.

    Good times!

  22. Chongo says:

    you know… I love this site… read it quite frequently… but just occasionally your articles make me feel really stupid :) Thanks a lot!

    p.s. stupid enough to change my habits

  23. Havok154 says:


    $3.50 for a coffee?!?! I prefer Wawa and the slightly over $1 coffee/hot chocolate, which has a taste I prefer over places like Starbucks.

  24. Floobtronics says:

    The FICO

    Just borrow a couple of hundred grand and see.. :)

  25. FLConsumer says:

    “Don’t buy shit you can’t afford” Pure & simple. “afford” does NOT mean being able to afford the purchase price. You need to be capable of paying for ongoing costs as well, including maintenance and emergency repairs.

    I’m with the some of the others here. I try to put just about everything I can on my credit cards, BUT, I also always pay my bill off on-time and live well below my means. I’m trying to save 20-40% of my income. Could I be buying more items and living a more extravagant lifestyle? Sure, but I’d rather live the high life when I have time to enjoy it rather than now. Instant gratification never pays.

    @AngelaR: How do credit cards “own you?”

  26. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I do carry a balance on one of my cards only because it’s 0% APR until october. When october comes, I’ll pay the whole thing off and start over. In the meanwhile, the money that would have gone to paying off my credit card is sitting in my savings making a healthy 4.5%. In 4-5 months, that’s 1.5-2% interest. That’s virtually the same as cash back.

  27. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Now excuse me while I go open an HSBC savings account with I believe 5.05% interest.

  28. aka Cat says:

    I always forget what or where I ate within a week, unless it was a really special occasion. Does that mean I can’t use my credit card in restaurants?

    Anyway, what are you supposed to use, if not a credit card?

    – Consumer protection on debit cards is lousy.

    – Ditto for auto-debit from a bank account.

    – Carrying cash is risky, and it’s more work to keep track of cash purchases.

    – Checks are fine for bills that are mailed, but they’re an annoyance to everyone in the checkout line. And most restaurants won’t even accept them.

    What’s left?

  29. SadSam says:

    I always paid my credit cards off in full at the end of each cycle. Then my husband and I decided to do a major debt paydown (mostly ‘his’ debt) and as part of our plan we cut up all our credit cards. I mostly use my debit card (w/ Visa logo, includes credit card protection and I get points through Visa Extras) or I use cash for small purchases. I find that since I stopped using credit cards I spend much less than I used to. Something about having the money come right out of my checking account when I make the purchase has influenced my purchasing behavior. We won’t go back to using credit cards (we each kept one for travel purposes but we don’t keep them in our wallets and we don’t use them unless we are renting a car, etc.)

  30. JohnMc says:

    CatMoran said —

    “I always forget what or where I ate within a week, unless it was a really special occasion. Does that mean I can’t use my credit card in restaurants?”

    In this case credit is not the issue. Its a matter of where/how you eat. Look restaurants are expensive and if you want to whack the food bill budget then eat at home. I hear you — how dull…

    I was once a yuppie (now 50’s) and my wife and I at that age ate out a lot with friends. Its a nature of that age group. Well wife and I noticed that the bills were getting crazy in that category. So one night we hatched the ‘Lucky Supper Club’. Each couple in turn invited the ‘group’ over for dinner. The ‘guests’ brought wine or spirits. The ‘host’ prepared the main course and everyone pitched in on the side dishes.

    It was a lot more fun. Cheaper. More filling. For what we were paying for 2 glasses of wine, we could buy whole bottles. We discovered what were restaurant grade food products that were only a little more than the supermarkets. We actually got down to splitting case lots of ‘good’ stuff amoungst us for everyday use as well and saved a bundle again.

    Try it, you’ll like it!

  31. Starfury says:

    Too many people seem to have problems with needs and wants.

    I need a place to live. I need food. I need tranportation to/from work to pay for these items.

    I want a new computer.
    I want the 5000 piece ($500) Lego Millenum Falcon
    I want a Ferrari F430 (real one, alreay have the lego kit)

    I can tell the difference between the two and minimize the wants. My CC bill is paid off each month in full. I charge gas and other routine expenses to get the Amazon gift certs. Everything else is cash/ATM card.