Even Granny Has a Credit Card

GrannyI was in line at the grocery store the other day. As usual, I was running behind schedule and tried to pick the shortest line with the most efficient looking cashier. The line I chose had a great cashier, but it all ground to a halt when the most dreaded sight to a rushed shopper appeared. Someone pulled out a checkbook. My first thought when that happens is why don’t you get a credit card? Even Granny has a credit card, right?

Who Doesn’t Have a Credit Card?

Honestly, who on earth doesn’t have a credit card? The only demographic I can think of really are elderly people. While it may seem like they are behind the times, maybe they are the smart ones when it comes to paying off debt. I honestly love to have older people come into my optometry practice. They generally pick out what they know works for them and write a check for the full balance, while I often see younger people having to jostle around different credit cards to find a combination that isn’t maxed out to pay off their bills.

I found this article on Time’s website about how many young adults will never pay off their credit card debt. It is kind of sad that we live in a world of instant gratification, and many consumers are sacrificing their retirement years to pay back Visa for designer shoes that were discarded long ago. One thing both my Grannies never had was credit card debt. When did we lose the mentality of not buying things we can’t pay for?

Recipe for Credit Disaster

There was a teenager who came alone for an eye appointment a few months ago. She picked out an expensive pair of glasses and pulled out her Dad’s American Express. It was declined. After a whiny call to her father, she said he would be right there. I expected him to pick out something cheaper or wait to purchase glasses. Can you guess what actually happened? Yes, he pulled out a different card, paid the bill, and away they went.

Now maybe the declined card had a very low limit. Maybe they pay off their balance every month, but I somehow doubt it. I have certainly had a love/hate relationship with credit cards. It took hitting rock bottom with our finances in order to finally begin to use credit in a wise way. Rock bottom for us didn’t mean losing a house or going into bankruptcy, but lots of other people aren’t so lucky.

Good and Bad of Credit Card Use

If you are responsible, credit cards can be a cornucopia of rewards, an easy ways to track spending, and a faster checkout in the express lane. If you are not responsible, you could be paying off credit card debt when you’re old and gray. Before you give the person writing the check an evil eye, consider the pros and cons of using credit cards for everything. Maybe that person is making the smartest decision, even if it makes me late!

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

21 Comments

  1. Great reminder of the dangers of Credit Cards. As our Get out of Debt strategy we outlawed all card use. We’ve out of debt for 2 years now and we use a single reward card that we pay off each week. Best we’ve felt in years.

    As far as the seniors are concerned, more power to them! However, I wouldn’t mind them being in someone else’s line 🙂

  2. I also had to hit the bottom before I changed my mindset. I took a 4 year break from credit cards, but that time taught me a lot about them and how to use them properly. Now, I use them for every purchase and pay it off. The rewards are quite nice!

  3. Ha! We had this happen to us last weekend. Not only did the woman pull out a checkbook, but she waited to begin writing until everything was already rung up and bagged….then when she received her receipt she stood and reviewed it without moving (and, of course, found something she thought was a discrepancy).

    Credit cards are interesting. I assume that nobody even tracks their expenses anymore because people always seem shocked when I want my receipt.

  4. You know I don’t think plastic will ever go away…it’s the most secure way to pay. I’m not surprised credit card spending is up. I recently read a study that came to the conclusion that when consumers have less, the feel a sudden urge to spend more! With the hard times many have been facing, credit cards may be the only way for them to spend more. It’s unfortunate that people wind up in debt. However, I have to say that it’s an issue of under-education rather than over-use. If people understood credit cards better, chances are, they wouldn’t use them in such horrible ways! Thanks for the great read and what I believe will be a great discussion started around this topic!

  5. I think we’ll go beyond the plastic eventually and have something like barcode scanners implanted in our eyes as newborns and all we do is look at the cashier when we’re checking out to pay for our stuff. OK maybe that that extreme, but look how much our smartphones are doing now. I can’t imagine what technologies there will be in the future. I do admire the way our grandma’s and grandpa’s used to live on a cash type basis. If it was in your hand, you had money, and if you didn’t…

  6. I’m a supporter of credit cards once people understand them, have changed their mental attitude towards debt and will NEVER leave an outstanding balance on the credit card. It improves cash flow by a month, you can earn rewards, you have more consumer rights, etc etc.

    However, until people change their attitude, they should stick to chequebooks.

    Also, I’m a supporter of the word “cornucopia”!!

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