In this day and age, a credit card can be a ‘flex.’ A credit card offers you an excellent way to control your finances and build your credit history while earning additional perks like free/discounted flight tickets, cash backs, loyalty points, etc.
Therefore, taking a credit card is not only a reasonable option, but it can also be an excellent thing for your financial journey. However, this is only if you are a responsible credit card user.
Without careful use, you may tend to overspend, accumulate debt as interest piles up. It can be tough to dig yourself out of this hole once you get in.
Credit cards offer great convenience, protection against fraud, and other great benefits - consequently, it can be a smart move to have at least one credit card in hand.
But there are a few reasons why having a credit card might work against you rather than for you. It all depends on your financial situation, personal goals, and how well you are already managing your finances.
Below, we discuss some of the situations you might be in that may be reasons good enough for you to pause before getting a credit card.
Spending on your credit card is a lot easier than trying to understand how they work. You swipe, and you magically get to spend money you do not have. It can feel like free money.
But do not be fooled. A credit card is a debt that earns high interest in addition to other fees if you fail to utilize the interest-free period and generally follow best practices.
All credit cards come with unique terms and conditions that can come back to bite you later on if not well understood.
While you may be making a steady income, your spending habits can be your Achilles' heel. If your income can barely cover your current monthly expenditure, adding a credit card bill to the equation might not be a good idea.
It is advisable to first work on increasing your income or eliminating some of the bills to afford a credit card comfortably.
Even more important, is working on taming bad spending habits - because, with the availability of a credit line that you only need to pay a minimum amount, a credit card could fuel your bad spending habits rather than help you better manage your expenditure.
Remember, a credit card’s biggest advantage comes when you can utilize the interest-free period and settle the bill on time before it starts accumulating interest.
If you are someone who has not mastered the art of financial discipline, you might just be putting yourself in serious financial trouble by getting a credit card.
In fact, it is far much easier to overspend when swiping than when buying on cash.
Studies have also shown that people spend more when shopping online with a credit card than with a debit card.
Hence, if you already have trouble controlling your spending habits, it is wiser to take a raincheck on that credit card until you are ready.
It takes a lot of financial discipline to properly utilize a credit card. A card that you can swipe and get to spend money even when you are broke takes a lot of internal control to not overspend on.
In addition, a credit card needs to be closely monitored, statements scrutinized and the balance paid on time.
Only a person with good financial education and discipline can properly handle that. So, if you struggle with handling your everyday finances, then it might not be a good idea to add a credit card to the equation.
Otherwise, you might be stuck with ever-growing debt, increasing interests, and bad credit history.
If you do not have a stable income - maybe you work part-time or every once in a while - you might end up struggling to pay off the debt when it is due.
In order to optimally utilize a credit card, you need to have enough income to pay the bill in full before it is due. This is when you are able to repay what you spent without any interest.
Otherwise, it will attract accumulating interest and might end up ruining your credit rating. Also, if your income falls due to some reason, it is worth it to reconsider using your credit card until you are able to comfortably pay it off again.
If you are already down deep in debt, it doesn’t make sense to add on more monthly bills. Well, unless you can comfortably afford to pay it off every month before it is due.
Suppose you already have a mortgage, Sacco loan, bank loan, and a few other digital loans. In such a case, adding a new credit card debt to this equation might work to push you deeper into debt.
Likewise, people with other credit card debts should consider holding off taking another credit card until reduced their current burden to be able to comfortably afford a new debt.
Even when they can afford it, some people still struggle to pay off debt. This is tied to personal financial discipline. However, there are people who struggle to let money go once it is in their hands, and using the money to pay off debts is even harder.
Although there is no malice and it is just a weakness, it is a good idea to reconsider taking on a credit card if you have to think twice before settling a debt.
If a credit card bill is not settled on time, you will not only be paying the principal but also the interest accumulated. And this might make it even harder.
Although it is preferable to pay the bill in full each month (which allows you to use the credit card without paying interest), it may not be exactly easy to pay it in full every month as well as ensure you keep your expenditure within the level you can afford.
Life happens and at some point, you might end up missing a payment or two.
So if you are the kind that fears paying interest on purchases, maybe a credit card is not for you. Without a credit card, you are safe from paying interest on purchases - at least in the form of credit card interest.
Credit cards have numerous benefits for the financially disciplined cardholder; their income-smoothing ability is particularly beneficial as are the numerous rewards such as cashbacks that make your spending even more worth it.
However, if you fit into any of the categories above, it is advisable to reconsider your options before taking one. You are better off safe than sorry.
There are other alternatives to use if you must use an electronic payment option. For example, you can use a debit card (tied to your current bank account) or a prepaid debit card (similar to a debit card but not tied to your bank account).