It’s noticeable that credit cards have gotten a very bad reputation over time. Credit cards are typically associated with negative connotations, such as high debt, bankruptcy, and simply fear. It’s time to stop misdirecting the blame of these negative attributes to an inanimate object and start looking at ourselves, the consumers. With proper money management education, we can curb a lot of household financial distress.
It is said that the average credit card debt per credit card holder is figured to be about $8,000. Of course, this number is skewed because a majority of consumers could have zero credit card debt, while the remaining have massive debt. It’s figures like these that have driven people away from leveraging their credit cards more often. However, the numbers themselves do not speak the whole truth.
There is a difference between good debt and bad debt. Good debt is typically associated with investments that will help generate additional value in the long run (e.g. education, office equipment, advertising, etc). Bad debt is something we are more commonly aware of, which are purchases that are not necessary for survival nor generates/appreciates in value over time. These are also referred to as luxury items. Though the amount of credit card debt may be massive on one end of the spectrum, who is to say that it is not being used for good debt?
Aside from the “high average debt”, credit card companies are also perceived as vultures for targeting unassuming consumers. And though, it’s true, there are some companies that prey on consumers lack of due diligence (e.g. the Kardashian Kard), most do not. They only provide the applicant with what they calculate he/she can handle, especially since financial institutions are so adverse to extending credit nowadays. Just because financial institutions distribute the cards does not mean we should be condemning them either. It’s up to the consumer to ensure they understand the terms they are getting themselves into and the best option for them.
The real concern of credit card usage lays with the consumers that are not living within their means and are over consuming luxury items. Their finger should point to themselves for getting placed in this predicament. The question is then, how do we solve this? The answer: provide better and earlier education in financial/money management. Without proper education, the amount of bad debt consumers incur will continually grow, no accountability for their own actions will be taken, and the economy will be hurt even more.
The initiative to solve this problem is underway, such as the Ariel Elementary Community Academy mentioned in the article,teaching kids about money. And other resources, provided by CreditCard.com, allow consumers to determine which cards are available for them and and list of their terms and benefits.
As some of you may have noticed, a list of examples for luxury items was not provided, because there’s always a way to rationalize how it can be considered an investment. But let’s be honest with ourselves, we know what we need to survive, what truly generates value, and what we simply want because of the “cool factor”.