Should I get a credit card?

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?

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15 responses to “Should I get a credit card?

  1. I don’t think credit cards are inherently bad, but it’s all dependent on the user of the cards. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have one if you can handle the responsibility.

  2. Wow, that’s a great credit score for not ever having credit cards. I like mine for the rewards points, it’s nice getting cash back. But, it definitely needs to be used in a more responsible manner than I used to… I think you already have strong saving habits and living within your means, so I don’t see you spending frivolously. But again, if you don’t really want it, then I don’t see a reason considering your long-term goals of not wanting house/car.

  3. Even though I haven’t had the most responsible history with credit cards, I still use them now for the cash back (free money!) rewards. Like Anna was saying, you have already proven yourself financially responsible so I really doubt you will fall victim to it’s spending temptations. Credit cards aren’t a need per se but I think they can be handy if trying to rent a car or book a hotel. Buying flights online also require credit cards etc.

    • I’ve been able to buy my flights, etc with my debit card. Luckily, that has not been an issue. But I’m thinking it might be good just to have one, then graduate to rewards card!

  4. If I were you, I would definitely take advantage of a rewards card. Either cash back or try again for one with airline miles since your credit is pretty good now. Think about paying for gas or groceries with it every month and paying off the balance immediately. You’ll reap more rewards and it will help build your credit in the long run. Definitely don’t just save it for emergencies.

  5. Having a credit score even if you don’t want a house or a car, is still handy to have to your name.

    I use credit cards for the rewards, but not for actual credit.

    Plus what if you want to book flights online and other things like that? You need a credit card for that, or at least the higher limit versus a debit card.

    • Since I have a mastercard logo, I’ve never had any issues using my debt card for flights or hotels. I think I do want to get one and get rewards though! You’re probably right about good credit coming in handy someday.

  6. I have never had a credit card but I would say if you are sure you will pay off the balance before it accumulates interest, go for it. Especially if it’s a rewards card.

  7. I use my credit card and pay it off at the end of the month each month (yes the credit card companies hate people like me). I don’t think credit cards are a bad idea for people who use them responsibly. But I think the number of people who use them responsibly are probably few and far between.

  8. Having a credit card is fine as long as you are responsible with it. I don’t think it can hurt you too much at this time and you never know when you might need that credit

  9. If you want the travel rewards, get one and start churning! I wish I had one with rewards, but am happy with one that has no ATM fees abroad, you can’t have it all!

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