When used wisely, a credit card is a valuable financial tool that can help build and maintain good credit. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall back on credit cards as a means of paying for things we don’t need or can’t afford. And sometimes, even if something is a need (and not a want) it’s still not a good idea to use a credit card to pay for it. Here are five things you should never pay for with a credit card:
Getting hit with a large, unexpected medical bill is an almost universal fear. The only way to make it worse is to pay that bill with a credit card, which adds interest to an already unplanned expense. It’s a better idea to work out payment arrangements with the hospital and/or medical providers directly. There may still be a small interest charge, but it will almost always be less than what you would pay in credit card interest. This is one of the reasons we preach having an emergency fund ready to go. If you do, you’ll be able to pay the bill in full, then focus on replenishing your savings.
If you’re coming up short on a mortgage payment, it may seem like the logical, responsible thing to do is make the payment using a credit card. However, that’s not the case. It’s problematic for a few reasons. You will be adding additional interest to the payment on top of the interest you’re already paying. Plus, you will eat into a significant portion of your available credit, which can cause your credit score to drop. A better option is to call your loan servicer immediately when you realize you can’t make the payment. Here are several more things to do when you find you can’t make a mortgage payment.
With the average cost of a wedding in the United States ringing in at more than $26,000(!), using credit cards to pay for it is a recipe for disaster. Paying with credit makes it far too easy to give in to temptation and overspend. Plus, starting a new life together with massive wedding debt will put a strain on the marriage at a time that should be joyful. Here are some ways you can save on wedding expenses and still have a beautiful celebration.
Whether you’re buying lottery tickets or hitting the blackjack table at a local casino, don’t do it unless you can pay for it in cash. Using a credit card to pay for gambling is truly a no-win situation. You will end up with nothing to show for it but lingering debt that will far outlive the memories of any fun you might have had in the moment. If you enjoy gambling as a leisure activity, allow an amount in your entertainment budget for the activity and always use cash.
Since a down payment is, in essence, the first payment you’re making on a much larger loan, it just doesn’t make sense to pay for it with a credit card. If you did, you would then be paying interest on that along with the interest on the loan, and you’ll have two monthly payments instead of just a loan payment. You’re better off saving up the money you need to make the down payment, and starting the loan with a clean slate.
Now you know what to avoid paying for with a credit card going forward. But if you have made any of these mistakes in the past and need help getting back on track, our free financial review is the place to start.