I’m 30 years old, and I’ve never had a credit card. I didn’t know this was weird until I started talking about it more and saw people’s reactions. Lots of confusion, that’s for sure! Since then, I’ve discovered that I’m definitely in the small minority of people by not using credit cards.
In fact, I first wrote this post when I was 28. So, two years later and still no credit card! Here’s the deal…
Why I Never Got a Credit Card
My money blueprint is the foundation from my past that led me to living how I do now (read more about money blueprints here).
When I was in my late teens, my grandpa said to me “using a credit card is like taking a mortgage out on your clothes.” Apparently, I’m very impressionable because that’s all it took. I never questioned it – never thought twice about it. I believed that the bad things about credit cards outweighed any good just from hearing my grandpa say that. My grandparents are extremely frugal and well off, so I thought (and still think) they know what they’re talking about when it comes to money.
The second reason I never got a credit card was because of my propensity to spend money. I naturally want things right now and usually spend based on how I’m feeling and justify it later. I like some of the finer things in life, and I think that it would be incredibly hard, if not impossible, for me to only use my credit card up to the amount I could pay off every month. So for me, I don’t even want to have that temptation. I understand that everyone is not like me, so I don’t think this is the way to go for everyone. But for those of you interested, here is how I operate without a credit card.
How I Operate Without A Credit Card
I use my debit card as credit for most of my purchases. This way, I can only spend what I have. I choose “credit” instead of “debit” when I use my debit card so that I’m afforded all of the protections that Visa offers in terms of fraud (I have a Chase Visa debit card). By spending only what I have in the bank, I always have enough.
I have never once thought that credit cards are an option. It just doesn’t cross my mind.
- Related: How to get out of debt
Unfortunately, no one brainwashed me about not getting student loans like my grandpa brainwashed me about not getting a credit card. So, I graduated law school with $206,000 in student loans! My student loan debt is now under $120,000, but I’m still a long ways away from being debt free. Student loans are reported to credit bureaus as installment loans (which is different than credit cards, which are reported as revolving credit) and this is how I build my credit: by paying off my student loan debt. Because I pay off my student loans consistently and have several student loans showing on my credit report, I am building a good credit history on my credit reports, and I have an excellent credit score.
I am in a unique situation where I have a lot of student loans being reported, which is why this works for me, and as a result I have great credit. I understand this is a completely different situation than someone without credit or student loans. In my case, I don’t need credit cards to build credit – my student loans did that.
I will say that personally having a good credit score is important to me, but it ranks lower on my priority list than being out of debt and having a strong financial foundation. I don’t know what I’ll do once my loans are paid in full, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, my student loans keep my credit in good shape.
The Perks I’m Giving Up
I am definitely giving up credit card perks by not using a credit card. Whether it’s points, cash back, or air fair – I get none of it. But I know myself. I know the perks aren’t worth it because of my propensity to spend. I’d so much rather be in the habit of saving ahead of time and paying for things with cash than having my credit card as a backup plan. It’s really just my mindset about consumer debt and credit cards — they’re not for me.
I heard Dave Ramsey say on one of his episodes that “if debt is an option, you’ll always be in debt.” I truly believe this. By not having a credit card, I don’t even give myself the option of getting into consumer debt. And with my student loan debt, I think that’s enough debt for the rest of my life!
My Money Philosophy
I have never considered credit cards as an option. I think this is a true testament to what is possible with a particular mindset. Only because of my commitment to avoiding credit cards have I managed to avoid consumer debt.
If a spender like me who loves clothes can go through life without a single credit card, then anything is possible. 🙂
For the parents out there, I encourage you to brainwash your children – in a good way! I was told from a young age that I would go to professional school after college, and I was also told not to use credit cards. I’m a lawyer, and I don’t use credit cards. This didn’t happen by accident. Parents have the greatest influence over their kids – I truly believe that!
A Final Note!
I’ve never had a credit card. They’re just not for me! I have good credit from my student loan debt, which is different than most people. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a spender, then you may want to consider cutting the cards. It’s amazing not to have the temptation for me!
This post was subsequently published in The Huffington Post here.