Here in the CMF household we recently made a big change in the way that we make everyday purchases, folks. Are you ready for it? We recently… (drum roll, please)… stopped using our debit cards.
I know, not the most exciting change ever, but for us it was a big one. For years we’ve used our debit cards for most of our everyday purchases. After all, we decided that we did not enjoy credit card debt that much, so we haven’t had it for years. We did not want once again to find ourselves in situations where we could not pay off expenses that we had racked up on credit cards, and the easiest solution seemed to be that we just would not use credit cards at all.
Then something happened. Well, several somethings happened, actually. The first is that we began reading more and more about this thing called travel hacking… and we wanted to try it. We have great credit and over the last few years our expenses have been larger because we have been working on trying to have kids the expensive way- so it’s not like we don’t have plenty of bills or anything. 🙂
Plus currently we travel a decent amount for work and get reimbursed by our employers for expenses incurred while we travel. And we thought, hey, it’d be pretty cool if we got reimbursed for all these travel expenses AND got to rack up killer credit card travel rewards while we were at it!!
But even those thoughts had us sitting partially on the sidelines of the travel hacking game, for a while anyway. A few months ago we did get approved for our first credit card with awesome travel rewards, the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (see my full review here). And while we have managed to already earn some excellent rewards with this card, we still were not using it to its full potential because we were mainly just using it for large medical bills or other large single expenses where the amount was easy to take note of and immediately transfer a corresponding amount from our checking account.
I guess we’ve been concerned that if we used the card for EVERYTHING, meaning all the little trips to the grocery store (we live only a block away from the grocery store so we go there multiple times a week) and everything, that the total amount would be too difficult to keep track of and pay off immediately.
Getting Over Our Laziness
Did you hear that? We were being lazy, basically. Along with a healthy dose of wariness that somehow we might not get the card paid off and might have to pay interest. But we finally got over those things, with the help of some cyber criminals that we’ve never even met.
Yep, criminals. Hackers, to be specific. After the events of last holiday season when hackers compromised Target’s credit card system, we started getting concerned about this. After all, I had shopped at Target with my debit card during the days that were considered to be of concern. We had to contact our bank and order new debit cards and the whole nine yards.
That was when it dawned on us that it really is much safer to shop with a credit card. After all, credit cards carry consumer protections that debit cards do not. If someone were to get our debit card information and make a replica of our debit card and clean out our account, we’d be screwed. To the best of my knowledge, there are many fewer consumer protections available in that circumstance as compared to credit cards. With credit cards, it’s easy to dispute a fraudulent purchase if you did not make it. My understanding is that it is significantly more difficult to do such a thing with a debit card (thankfully I have not had to find out, and I wouldn’t want to!!)
So with all of the above in mind, a few weeks ago we started using our Barclaycards for all of our expenses, not just the big ones. The result so far is that I am doing a little more math before making payments 2-3 times a month (to keep it paid off), but so far we are keeping the balance down, earning more travel rewards, and overall being safer shoppers.
So far the reviews are positive, I guess you could say! We feel better about using our credit cards for everything knowing that we can do it without racking up a balance AND while keeping our financial information more secure. We’ve finally managed to cut the cord… err, card (debit, that is).
But that’s just us. How about you? Are you using credit or debit cards or cash for most of your everyday expenses, and why or why not?
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