Just a Reminder....

There's been a lot of discussion lately on credit cards and debit cards (as if it ever really settles down). After several great discussions and debates, I ran across a string of posts from the Consumerist - one of the few consumer advocacy blogs. The articles were interesting individually, but more compelling as a body of work.

Hit the link below for a summary of this collection and a little reminder for those of us who have taken the plunge and gone credit card free.

From "Consumers Pay Down Credit Card Debt for 11th Straight Month":

The Federal Reserve has released data on consumer debt for August, and for the 11th month in a row we've paid down credit card debt and increased savings. Take that, rate-hiking credit card companies!
Great, right? For many millions of Americans, this theory of 'just pay off the balance each month' panned out to be little more than just a nice theory. The reality was credit card debt, and we also know that the leading causes of that credit card debt is due to a loss of income and/or medical expenses, not uncontrollable spending.

From "Man Puts Deposit Down On Used Car, Backs Out, Can't Get Money Back":
Back in April, Nait put a $500 refundable deposit down on a used car, then decided he didn't want to buy it anymore when he found it needed $10,000 in repairs. Five months later, neither the dealership nor Capital One, will refund his money. He gives a blow-by blow here.

So much for credit cards being that magical line of defense between the consumer and a shady business.

From "Ending The 0% Balance Transfer Era":
Ah, the glory days of American credit cards. When your credit card's interest rate went too high, you could find a different card with a deliciously low promo balance transfer rate, and revel in your low interest. At least, until you let the card sit idle too long or made a late payment, and then started the cycle over again. But no more.
The first comment here is also of note:
I've never found a balance transfer that would help my wife and I spend less and/or pay off quicker. Has anyone found a good way to do this that doesn't involve a balance transfer?
Right, and you never will. The balance transfer can only be effective as a temporary band-aid on the hemorrhaging that is your money. It may stop the bleeding, but yet hasn't solved anything. Want to spend less, and/or pay them off quicker? Close 'em, Shred 'em, and Forget 'em.

From "BofA Pledges To Stop Raising Credit Card Interest Rates":
The AP reports Bank of America has promised to stop jacking up interest rates on credit cards with fixed interest rates. But that doesn't mean your rate won't jump.
Sounds a lot like previous promises to stop beating their wives abusing customers. No, no - I'm sure they mean it this time.

From "Help! My Credit Card Is Adding An Annual Fee!"
Michael is in a situation that we anticipate will become very, very common in the coming months. His credit card company has imposed a $99 annual fee. He can accept the fee, or close his account. Not only is this his only credit card, but it's the oldest credit line he has, so closing it would hurt his credit score. What would you do?
You guys are just pitching them underhand.... that's an easy question - Close 'em, Shred 'em, and Forget 'em.

So those 5 recent posts, as I said, make for a compelling body of work. How so? Think about it this way:

If you have no credit cards, then none of this has any affect on you. Any of it.

The first is nice to hear, and even nicer not to be participating it - or even capable of participating in. Of the many things credit cards claim, simplicity is not one of them.

Just a reminder...


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