‘I do not use money’: I’m 70 and my house is paid off. I reside off Social Safety, and I exploit a bank card for all my spending. Is that dangerous?


I’m now 70 years outdated and partially disabled. I’m absolutely retired, dwelling on Social Safety and Supplemental Safety Earnings. Clearly, I’ve restricted revenue.

I’m financially steady. I’ve no money owed of any sort. I personal my dwelling (a ship) free and clear, and don’t have any funds on my car.

I’ve at all times been reluctant to pay for issues utilizing a debit card. My fear is that if my debit card ever will get stolen and there are fraudulent prices, that cash comes straight out of my checking account. Even when I reported its theft, it would take time to get the cash again.

Because of this, I don’t use money. I at all times pay with a bank card somewhat than a debit card. I don’t carry any credit-card balances. I price range my cash fastidiously and pay all my credit-card payments in full each month.

My query: Is there a draw back to my utilizing bank cards in my present restricted monetary scenario?


Expensive Retiree,

With comfort comes nice duty — and dangers.

There’s an enormous distinction between dwelling on credit score and utilizing a bank card to your spending. You fall into the latter class, and you might be paying off your card each month whereas racking up rewards, air miles and different perks. Debit playing cards don’t, for essentially the most half, provide rewards. 

Credit score-card corporations additionally make returns simpler, and you’ve got extra fraud protections with these playing cards. For example, nearly all bank cards in the marketplace provide “zero fraud legal responsibility” on fraudulent prices, that means you gained’t pay a penny on them.

The credit-reporting firm Experian recommends that you just arrange an automatic fee each month to repay your bank card in full, assuming that you’ve sufficient cash in your checking account to cowl it, and in addition textual content alerts for when you find yourself approaching your spending restrict.  

I might urge you to benefit from all of the credit-card perks, but additionally have a minimum of six months’ price of emergency financial savings for any unexpected occasions, similar to harm to your house or a medical invoice that you need to pay out of pocket. One dangerous occasion may upend your life.

‘Nobody plans to get caught in a cycle of credit-card debt. It occurs slowly or out of the blue, and sometimes via impulsive spending.’

Nobody plans to get caught in a cycle of credit-card debt. It occurs slowly or out of the blue, and sometimes via impulsive spending. The dangers are nice: The common credit-card rate of interest presently hovers at 20.3%, the very best fee recorded by CreditCards.com. 

That rate of interest is an effective motivation to maintain on prime of your month-to-month payments. Bank cards provide help to construct a credit score rating, however you must also purpose to maintain your credit-card utilization fee — that’s, your stability as a share of your credit-card restrict — low.

Some individuals take pleasure in credit-card churning — opening new bank cards to get the sign-on bonus, and shutting the playing cards earlier than the subsequent annual price kicks in. Whenever you open a card, the bureau does a “onerous examine” in your credit score, which might harm your credit score rating.

My colleague Leslie Albrecht just lately wrote a Monetary Face-off column evaluating purchase now, pay later (BNPL) to bank cards, and selected the latter because of the excessive rates of interest for a lot of BNPL loans, and the shortage of protections afforded by BNPL in comparison with these of bank cards.

However Ted Rossman, a senior trade analyst at Bankrate.com, additionally had this well timed warning in regards to the dangers inherent in bank cards: “There’s a saying within the trade that bank cards are like energy instruments. They are often actually helpful or they are often harmful.”

He’s not improper: Should you made a mean month-to-month minimal fee of $26.67 on a $1,000 credit-card stability with 20% curiosity, it will take you greater than 9.5 years to repay the capital and curiosity. 

Tailor your credit-card spending to your life-style. Select playing cards that supply money again on purchases at supermarkets and shops that you just store at often. With an unsure financial outlook, some credit-card corporations are displaying indicators of tightening their belts (i.e., reducing their limits).

That’s pretty much as good a motivator as any for the remainder of us to do the identical.

Yocan e mail The Moneyist with any monetary and moral questions associated to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and observe Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Take a look at the Moneyist personal Fb group, the place we search for solutions to life’s thorniest cash points. Readers write in to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Submit your questions, inform me what you wish to know extra about, or weigh in on the newest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he can not reply to questions individually.

Extra from Quentin Fottrell:

My boyfriend desires me to maneuver into his dwelling and pay hire. I urged solely paying for utilities and groceries. What ought to I do?

My dinner date ‘forgot’ his pockets and took the receipt for his taxes. Ought to I’ve known as him out for being cheapskate?

My boyfriend lives in my home with my 2 youngsters, however refuses to pay hire or contribute to meals and utility payments. What’s my subsequent transfer?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this