Confession: I’m 28 and I’ve never had a credit card. Ever. I went through college, constantly getting junk mail with new offers for 0% interest credit cards. I don’t even think I opened one of them. I guess I’ve always had a bad association with credit cards and I’ve heard the horror stories. I also remember hearing about how credit works and it just seemed silly that you wouldn’t pay for something right away.
In my mind, if I couldn’t afford it, I wouldn’t buy it. When I was younger, I had a pretty nice safety net. I was working part-time and living at home for the majority of my undergraduate years. I moved out and since then have lived quite a full life in several cities, moving, having job loss and job success.
For the past two years, while having no health insurance or a permanent job, my mom urged me to get a credit card, for emergencies. I thought, well isn’t that what my emergency fund is for? Well, my mini-emergency, which had me in the ER got financially settled and my EF had the 1k to fork over to the ambulance company. Whew! But even ending up in the ER, while uninsured, I got off pretty good. If I had a true medical emergency, those bills can be thousands of dollars. Do I have that in my EF? Nope.
Also, there is this thing that personal finance bloggers love to talk about: your credit score. I recently checked my credit score and it is 744. As someone that has never once had a credit card, I don’t think that is too bad. I’ve found out that paying my student loans on time, and paying more than the minimum does not really help my credit all that much. They really want to know about your consumer credit. I think I should get some credit (ha!) for paying off 30k so far and have 52k more to go! It’s frustrating. Clearly the loans and my good rental history have helped me some, as I have decent credit. Last time I had to have a credit check for an apartment, they wanted a credit score of at least 700, so I at least surpass that.
I know having a good credit score is important for many reasons. But the thing is, I don’t want to buy a house and I don’t really want a credit card. I definitely don’t want to buy a car. I just need good enough credit to rent an apartment. I like paying for things with the money I have. However, I am really interested in getting a credit card with airline miles to make all my travel dreams come true, but they won’t give me a fancy card yet, as I need to have a ‘starter’ credit card first. I know this, because the one and only time I applied for a credit card was for a fancy high mileage-earning credit card and was declined. It probably didn’t help that I was damn near broke at the time and a student.
I am not too scared of getting further in debt because of credit cards. I’ve always hated debt, and my debt has always been from education and education alone (sigh). But I wonder….I know so many people who have been tempted by the buy now, pay later philosophy of credit cards.
What do you think? Should I take the plunge and get a credit card? Or continue without as I have done for the past 10 years?