A few months ago, I mentioned that I was going to try using only our credit card for expenses to see how that would work for us. We have a rewards credit card where we get cash back on certain purchases (4% on gas, 3% on movies, 2% on restaurants and groceries, and up to 1% on everything else) so when we use it, we do reap rewards. We always pay this card balance off every month because it has a high interest rate- probably to make up for the rewards. In October, November, and December I used the credit card for all our every day purchases- gas, groceries, cable bill, household items, Amazon, etc. We actually ended up hitting the $100 threshold to receive a rebate check and in December when we received our statement it was attached- $127.32. Obviously free money is nice and it’s not like I had to do anything extra to earn it.
However, I don’t know if I like using the credit card only. Here’s why:
- I like using our debit card for every day purchases because the money immediately comes out of our checking account. I actually keep a check register, so it’s very easy for me to know exactly how much money we have at any point. When I use the credit card, the money gets charged and the balance keeps going up and up until I make a payment. I did make several payments throughout the month, so it wasn’t like it was a huge payment all a once and hurt a little less than if I had made the payment when the billing cycle cut. It still hurt to make payments in the hundreds of dollars versus the smaller charges that usually go on our debit card.
- I feel like we spent a lot more money when we used the credit card. Not having to write the transactions down made it almost like free money and it was easier to just swipe the card without having to think twice about it. I can see how so many people get into the credit card trap and end up with high balances that take awhile to pay off.
- I used to be able to make payments of whatever dollar amount I wanted to at any time to our credit card. They changed it so that you can’t make a payment greater than what you owe, which I completely understand why, but it was so easy when I would charge gas or groceries and could come home and immediately transfer that amount to the credit card so I didn’t have to worry about doing it later. I don’t like owing money.
I did like that it was easier to reconcile our checking account when we didn’t have multiple purchases to account for. That part of it was great! Going forward, I’m not sure what I want to do. Part of me feels like it’s much better to just use the debit card and write the purchases down. I feel like when we use the debit card, we are much more intentional about how we spend our money. I honestly can’t say that we made tons of extravagant purchases during the few months we used the credit card, but I feel like we did spend more than I would like.
Do you use credit cards and if so, what is your system?