Skip to main content
No. of Recommendations: 5
My primary CC is for any spending that accepts CC - plus it is a great rewards card (Barclay arrival +). . . ,

Main reason I don't use debit is I don't get points for spending...


No, no, no!

Cash back is nice, and points may (or may not) be as good as cash back. But it's not the main thing. Cash back is a sideshow with chump change. The real money is in controlling how much you spend.

As long as you're focused on getting 1% or 3% or 5% back, you're not looking at the right measure. You should be looking at what you spend, not what you get back.

Which is the better deal: Buy milk for $2.39 per gallon where I can use a card that gets me 2% cash back, or buy milk for $2.17 per gallon at Aldi, which only accepts cash or debit? When you focus on what you get back, you don't see whether you're paying for the privilege of getting money back. Sometimes you are, and even when you aren't you may be spending more than you need to. That's the incentive the points or cash back are intended to create. They get you to spend.

You have let your spending incentives get out of control, and you are responding to marketing messages designed to make money for someone else. That's not the best way to manage your own money. Yes, use the cash back cards *IF* you have the cash to pay the card in full at any given time. If you don't have the cash to pay the current balance on all cards plus what you're charging, you're spending money you don't have. That will cost you a lot more than the cash back benefit.

Disclaimer: Yes, I use credit cards for most purchases. Yes, I get cash back. But you know what? I don't look at the cash back very much. I look at budget categories to control the spending. That's far, far more important. Also, I not only pay the cards in full each month; at any given time I have the cash to pay all my cards in full in however much time it would take to process ACH transactions. I feel pretty good about being able to stop doing business with all credit cards at any time they change terms and conditions to my detriment. When you carry a balance, you have a much weaker negotiating position for credit card terms and conditions.

Patzer
Print the post  

Announcements

UGC Disclosure Notice Regarding Credit Card Posts
Community board discussions about credit cards are not provided or commissioned by banks who may have advertising relationships with The Motley Fool. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
TMF Credit Center
The Motley Fool Credit Center arms you with real tools and simple messages, that will help you in every credit situation.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.