January 06, 2008

Credit Cards

How many credit cards do you have?

Do you carry a balance?

If so, how much total credit card debt do you have?

I love credit cards - I put everything on 'em, track my spending, and get some great cash back. But I'll be damned if I'd ever carry a balance. I just don't get that.

Meanwhile, the average American has over $8,400 in credit card debt. And that's exactly what the masters at Citibank want. But I've gotta believe HP'ers aren't the average American, eh?

Watch this great Frontline report on the history of credit cards. Good stuff!


Anonymous said...

3 - for if you count the non-US one that I haven't used in years but is still open.


Anonymous said...

"These [Citibank] are really big businesses and they do make money"

Well, back then they did :)

Anonymous said...

I have one credit card and have for years. I get miles on it and I usually pay it off in full each month, though at varying times I have kept a balance. I have a very sizable limit in the 5 figure range and do not abuse having this credit card. It is more of a convenience item than anything else.

bubbleglum said...

I've got a couple debit cards but have never owned a credit card and never will.

Anonymous said...

One Amex I keep in the drawer for emergencies and one VISA for the cash back. We spend about $2,000 on it monthly and pay it off religiously the day before it's due. We take in about $400/year in cash back.

Anonymous said...

Can you blog about Faux News excluding Ron Paul from the Rebuplican debate?

And for the question on this topic, my wife and I have three credit cards, no balance on any of them.

Your blog is awesome!


borkafatty said...


I have not owned a credit card in the last 10 years...so no balance to speak of..I pay worthless dollars for everything and anything i need....i work for my paycheck to keep..not to give it away...Although I will say 10 years prior I did have well over $10,000 in C.C Debt...paid it off and never looked back.

Credit Crooks want you! said...

Have about 3 cards...Never carry a balance (Pissing $$$ away if you do). I actually have a cash back card I use that pays me about $15 a month to charge everything on it...so they pay me $200 or so a year (Suckers)

nickel 'n dime said...

I've got a lot of credit cards. Maybe 20. Most of them have been idle for years, and I only use three with any frequency, and mostly only use my American Express. I probably have close to $100,000 available credit on all of them, but I pay off the balance each month. It wasn't always that way. For years I carried a balance, sometimes as much as $10,000. I hated it. Finally got my act together to pay them off and put a reserve in the bank. Now I borrow myself when I need to, and pay myself back. I was tired of feeling indentured to the credit card companies. It's a form of modern slavery. I hope to God I never have to run a balance on a card again. My FICO is 843, currently.

gk said...

I have several cards. Never keep a balance. Get cash back. Tried to cancel an account, and it was a pain in the ass. They want to keep giving me more 'credit', and ask if I've consulted a 'financial advisor'. I already have over 20k in credit with this company. They try to lure me with 'lower interest rates'. I said, "Take a look at my accounts. You pay me to use your cards. I don't pay interest, idiots!".

bobblehead said...

I have 2 and one of them gives me cash back. That's the one I use for everything I can. I, too, don't carry balances on either of them. What would be the point of paying interest on a card that gives cash back? But what's the point of paying interest anyway? Most people I talk to about credit cards carry balances on them. That tells me most people are not too smart about money.
That Frontline segment kills me when they are talking to the three people about savings and their credit cards. They all have savings and they all carry a balance. That's the ignorance I'm refering to.

Anonymous said...

The movie "Maxed Out" says it perfectly. It should be played for all middle and high school students twice a year. http://www.maxedoutmovie.com/

Shakster said...

OK,that does it.I'm tearing them all up........right after I Max this last one out.

OK I admit it ,I have TWO going now with balances.
Been lazy bad this year.

LauraVella said...

I have 3 cards but mostly use Discover which we pay off every month. I love the cash back bonus money!

01/20/2009 end of an error. said...

I put 25000 on a Capital 1 card when I refinanced my car loan. It had a 1.9% for the life of the transfer. Even though I sold the car soon after I kept the balance and bought PUTS. I made about 100K on the PUTS and still have some out to 2009. Still have about 12000 on the card but I am in no hurry to pay it off. Also have 500 at 0% with Best Buy.

Guess I am making the 8400 average stay up.

Roccman said...


Co-worker of mine has $8k on a MC.

So he calls MC - and tells them he can't pay.

MC agrees to 1) charge no interest 2) charge no fees... in exchange for a nominal flat monthly payment till it is paid off.

He took it.

This to me shows the shear desperation of CC companies...they will do anything just to keep a default off the books.


Noodles said...

3 credit cards. And like yourself, I use them for everything and pay in full, like religion. So I have a balance of $0. I also get cash back and a nice accounting of my expenses. Oh, and it's great for security on purchases. I'd much rather log a dispute through my credit card companies than with a business directly.

Which leads me to this: I want to warn everyone to really go over their statements each month. I think I picked up on a scam that is bound to become prevelent. So on my last statement I notice a charge for $59.95. An easy charge to miss, you know? Well I called the number listed to find out the product I supposedly bought. Long story short - I was charged for a direct to consumer book... something like an insider's opportunity to buy wholesale, that I had supposedly subscribed to. They sent it to me with my maiden name to an address I haven't used for 10 years. When I said I wanted a refund and my name off their list, they did not hesitate to help, refund, and do as I asked. So it's some company that probably bought an old list, trying to charge credit cards with no one noticing. If you do notice, they rectify right away, so there is no "injury" and no cause for action. And even if I did report this, who is gonna follow it up criminally when we have Caseys all over they place getting away with outright fraud? Anyway, I called the cc company and have notified them, but everyone beware. They are counting on the Sheeple that only look at the part of their statements that say "minimum balance due".

Anonymous said...

There is no FOIA for Corporate America. As a shareholder you do not have the right to know what is going on with any co., even if it is publicly traded.

Ed said...

7 open card, total credit available about $115,000

I have $75K in credit card debt. All at 0%.When a bank sends me a 0% offer or "convenience checks" at 0% with $0 transaction fees I take them up on their offers. I cash the checks and move the money to my FDIC insured money market account currently earning 4.95%. When the 0% period is up, I pay the money back and close the card. I've been doing this for about 2.5 years and as long as the 0%/$0 fee offers keep coming I'll keep on playing the game.

I know this hurts my FICO temporarily, but I'm not about to get a loan any time soon so who cares. If and when I ever need a mortgage (early 2009 I'm thinking), I pay off all the cards, my score shoots right back up.


Anonymous said...



Renting 3500 sq ft for 900/mo, with option to buy for 325k(lol ya)

Anonymous said...

At one point I was a full and had 12k in debt. However, being a fool doesn't make me an idiot and I paid them all off. Today I have on cc with zero balance. Plan to keep it that way, I only have this one in order to rent cars, reserve hotels, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 credit cards.

I carry no balance.

I am a DEADBEAT (in their eyes anyway). It seems that 3% profit, for basically moving some electrons around isn't enough for them. They will find out soon what true deadbeats are.

Anonymous said...

I don't think credit card debt tells you much right now...

Too many lines of credit skewing the data and making households look more solvent than really are.

az_mtb said...

Personal cards: 1
Joint cards: 1

Always pay our cards off in full each month. The only exception was when wife and I bought appliances, but that was 0% APR for 12 months which we paid off in about 8 months.

I only use the personal cc for the cash back feature.

Thanks for the free money Citibank! Suckers!

I love sexy realtors said...

Great video keith.I go to south dakota every year and trust me there are a lot of cattle and farms.

I have credit card debt but usually take advantage of 0% offers and use their money to trade in the market.They prey on poor uneducated people just like all other businesses.

traysea said...

First before I share my demons, let me tell you the good news..
I listen to Dave Ramsey and buy into his idea of money hook line and sinker.

I am on a debt snowball and focused to never have cc debt again, nor use them except for my companies' AMEX corporate card which I have to use to get reimbursed.

I also am feeling the heat trying to sell a house at a loss.

Why do we in America have this debt? I beleive it's my fault, however in addition to buying the hype, I was raised in 70's and 80's and as I grew up and made more money, felt like I was being "smart" by using CC to build credit. I also thought wrongly of course that having debt on a house was wise to park my money.

Here it goes.
The good news... I make a lot of money. About 150k gross (but this can and always changes if we get a recession for example)

Chase -- Balance as of 1 week ago 5500- had the balance for 3 months(paid for my move to Fl and getting through a month without commissions).. mistake.. but I paid it off 2 days ago.

AMEX - Balance of 2700 paid off 3 days ago, have another charged of 900 due 2/2 that will be paid off.

I owe 8500 on an zero interest card for dentist bills. Must be paid off in full by 10/08.

The rest is 2 car payments, a mortage in KY (trying to sell it ) and will probably have to come to closing with 25k, so I'll have to borrow for that -- which sucks.. means more debt that I don't want to have to carry further.

Ok, good luck.

I am enjoying paying more in cash and/or debit card.

It's a shift in the gotta have it now crowd. The party is over and I wish I had listened to my parents who never like having car payments or cc debt.

bob said...

first post ?

I have 4 or 5.

I carry a balance only at 0% - plan to pay off before it goes off 0%.

I used to be much sloppier about balances and payments - talk about pain.

See the video "Maxed Out" at youtube - it's amazing, the cc companies actually hold on to the people who are near-crisis, paying the minimum, trapped - it's their biggest income source.

wc said...

2 - visa and m/c - never carry a balance but do charge everything for convenience mostly on one card. The other one is just for emergencies or if the system is down.

hper said...

2 cards i actually use, and some dept store cards in order to get the discount when you open one up

average monthly balance of 2500 paid off every month

but yup, most of my in laws and some of my fam are in heaps of debt. 10k+ and 40k+ that i know of.

SeattleMoose said...

One credit card paid off every month in full.

Anonymous said...

Have multiple cc's with no balances. Always use Amex and payoff each month. Own 3 cars all paid off...one purchased in 2007 with trade and cash. Keep them at least 10 years. 30 year fix mortgage less than 1x of gross income...LTV less than 30%(prior to bubble pop). This is the way things use to be. Bottom line...never carry a balance, never lease, only fixed mortgage, and never use your home as an ATM. Basically living within our means...what a conecpt.

W.C. Varones said...

I use credit cards all the time. I've got three or four of them, but only use the one that gives me the best rewards.

I never carry a balance -- and when I get new card offers, I send back the reply envelopes full of gravel.

Stuck in So Pa said...

Have over a dozen for emergencies, only use two. MC business for 1-5% rebates on just about everything, and Discover Fleet for 5% rebate on gas/diesel. NEVER CARRY A BALANCE, SCREW EM!

Consequently, have a trash FICO score, and cc companies do not like me!
Love it!

The nice monthly breakdown of all expenses is nice, so I would probably use cards even if there were no rebates.

Batman said...

Sorry if this seems mean to some readers but carrying a credit card balance is the number one stupidest financial mistake you can make. No excuse.

I have one credit card (VISA) with a 50k limit. I use it exclusively for everything and pay the balance every month. Even debit cards are crazy because of the fees. You can buy a coffee at Starbucks with the credit card and not pay a 25 cent transaction fee.

Cash is better but it can be dangerous. It sucks when you get mugged (it has only happened to me when I travelled to the U.S., though I've traveled a fair bit in the middle east and latin american and never got rolled once).

Anonymous said...

The "loan sharking" abise used by extortionists over the centuries that was the original reason for usury laws were passed years ago. Granting the Banks the right to charge any interest rate they wish was and remains a complete dereliction of legislative duty in all 50 states. Banking in general and credit issuance in particular are finicial "utilities" that require strict regulatory agency control, as they have clearly shown they have no moral or ethical self retraint and have become nothing less than well dressed thugs that make the old Mafia loan sharking syndicates look like a chairity.

Anonymous said...

i have a combined balance on two credit cards in the amount of $2,000 plus.

Paul E. Math said...

I have 4 major credit cards. I like getting the points and the cash-back for work travel - I'm getting cash back for money that wasn't even mine.

I have some store-specific cards but I used them each only 1ce to get whatever discount they were offering.

Carry a balance?? Yeah, why don't I just bend over this barrel here... no, wait, let me undo my pants for ya, there ya go, how's that? Nah, don't bother with the lube, just hit me with hit.

No, I don't carry a balance. Ever.

Gabor said...

I can't wait to see what happens once they figure out that they are not getting their principle back from all the people making 25K/year who charged their plasmas and trips to Hawaii. I suppose all the companies around the world selling these people stuff will realize too that the demand was artificial. I guess it's a good time to sell all stocks.

D Gordon said...

I have 2 or 3 credit cards, and really only use 1 of them. I carry a balance of 5-10% of the maximum as I have read that is most favorable to build FICO scores. It has seemed to work for me. I don't mind paying some interest if it plays out to save me big interest on loans in the long run, esp when I get back into this tanking market in late 2008/2009.

Anonymous said...

yeh keith, but at the same time you use your credit cards, someone is watching you do what you do? they know where you go, they know what you buy? they know what you like. in the coming world, this is not a good thing. personal privacy is being lost.

Rom said...

3 Cards -- don't carry a balance.

area 51 said...

Have several cards, all but one are stored away. The one with the most benefits (miles, cash back etc) I carry and use.

I NEVER carry a balance.

Anonymous said...

I owe $6700 on my AMEX at 3.99% fixed for life. I figure with inflation running near 10%, why should I make more than the minimum payment?

Anonymous said...

credit cards suck. Anytime you use them, your putting yourself at risk to not paying it off in full or having to chase down bogus charges/fees etc.

Happens to me all the the time, can't wait to be completely out of debt!

eric in vegas said...

I have 3 cards with a total balance of $800 on one. It will be paid off tomorrow.

guitargirl said...

I will keep predicting this until I'm proved right or wrong, but one of the hallmarks of this year will be money being moved out of 401k's and mutual funds in large quantities (reaking more havoc on the stock market) in effort to pay off credit cards and any other high interest debts they have. The consumers feel they have nothing to lose by doing this since the stock market is going down anyway. (Even the high taxes and a 10 percent penalty is not going to dissuade them.) It's like the banks and other financial who have already been doing something similar; that is selling off good assets to pay off bad ones to keep some liquidity. This is another stage in "the unwinding of America". This situation will net more losses than gains by the banks and financials. They gain somewhat by getting some liquidity back when people pay off their cards but ultimately lose by collecting fewer "scam" fees and their stock prices will go down due to financials being a major part of 401k and mutual fund portfolios.

Anonymous said...

I have one card with a 5K balance that I have moved around a couple of times for the "0 percent for 12 month" introductory rates. I have the money to pay it off, and probably should. I just like the idea of borrowing their money for a while.

Anonymous said...

One CC and one DC. Balance on CC is about $800 because I traveled home to Wyoming for Christmas. CC is paid off in full every month. CC is a rewards card that lets me get a free airline ticket or hotel room every once in a while. I made an arrangement with my landlord to pay rent with a CC so I could rack up a few more points. In return, I agreed to keep the sidewalks shoveled.

Anonymous said...

I have about 12 credit cards with a $60,000. dollar balance. Interest rate is at about 20%. My monthly payments are through the roof. I am a renter.

I am drowning in debt. I want a bailout. Can HPers bail me out?

Benji Franklin said...

I have three cards (two personal, one for my small-business expenses), but I pay them off in full every month. I'm what the credit card companies call a "deadbeat", LOL!

FWIW, that video is available for viewing directly from the PBS website, in it's entirety:


Here's a transcript, for those who'd rather read:


FWIW, there was a PBS program that contained reference to how Senator Hillary Clinton caved in to the credit card companies to screw the consumer, accepting donations along the way to do so. She'll NEVER get my vote, as she's a classic insider.

Benjamin Franklin said...

Ah, here it is:


From a supplemental interview for the show, with Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard:

Sen. Clinton, when she was first lady, [was] responsible for stopping the proposed bankruptcy legislation. The White House had been quietly supporting it, and it was First Lady Clinton who talked with her husband and persuaded him that the bankruptcy bill was hard on women, hard on families, hard on older Americans, and was a bad idea in general. And the last act that President Clinton took with Congress was to veto the bankruptcy bill. Mrs. Clinton took credit for that in her autobiography, and by golly, she deserves it. She stood up --

And today?

Sen. Clinton, when she was elected, the financial services industry brought this bill back. And so one of the very first bills that came up after Sen. Clinton had taken office was the bankruptcy bill. Oh, [there were] a couple of cosmetic changes to it, ... but it was the same bill that had been there at that point already for four years. And Sen. Clinton voted in favor of the bill.

Better bill?



The financial services industry is a big industry in New York, and it's powerful on Capitol Hill. It's a story of how much influence this industry group wields in Washington that ... they can bring to heel a senator who obviously cares, who obviously gets it, but who also obviously really feels the pressure in having to stand up to an industry like that.

michael said...

wife and i have one card and we do not carry a balance ever.

Anonymous said...

There is a longer version here on Google video:


FlorgenBlorgen said...

Paid off all my credit cards 15 years ago and have not used one since.

I get the whole rewards/no balance thing but my debit card works just fine. I spend NO money I don't have.

Lady Di said...

2 credit cards.

I use them to get rebates towards a future car purchase and travel points, but pay them off every month.

I have used credit cards for over twenty years now and never carried a balance.

Living within my means and loving it!

Anonymous said...

1 credit card from a credit union. never carry a balance.
have paid maybe $20 in fees in over 10 years, maybe not even that.
works for me!

Hecate said...

I have four major bank cards (Visa, AMEX, etc.). I haven't paid a finance charge in years, paying off the balances each month. Ca$h back is the way to go.

Tyrone said...

4 Credit Cards
0 Credit Card Debt

Purchase most goods/services via credit cards to maximize the float.

What too do? said...

I regularly use two cards. One for fuel and the other a (prepaid) Health Savings Account. Never carried a balance in my life! What would be the point? Pay 15% interest vs. lose 5% from my savings account.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? No way I'd be in credit card debt. Okay, only once long time ago when I bought an engagement ring. Paid it off while it was 0% interest balance transfer. Turned out to be a good investment so far. . .

sam said...

My wife has 5000 on her cards for dentistry work and I have zero consumer debt on mine, but I started a company and have 20,000 on one card, however it doesnt make sense to pay it off since citicorp gave me a choice to either get a zero percent rate for one year or 4.25 till its paid off.
I took the fixed rate, so I put all our money into our 401k and IRA's, were erning much greater than 4.25
Our combined income is 120 grand, and we carry zero consumer debt.

Tanker said...

I have about seven credit cards. I usually use only two of them and never carry a balance.

LC said...

I don't have any credit cards, and I'm trying to put it off as long as possible. Everyone tells me I need to build a good credit rating, but I'm a broke 23 year old who is in a 5 year graduate program -- it's not like I will need a home or a car loan anytime soon, if ever.

I've seen too many of my 20-something friends get into deep credit card debt, and I don't trust that I could avoid being one of those people because I'm going to be broke for my entire graduate program.

A debit card works for almost all transactions -- I'm in no rush to get a credit card. But my bank tries to give me one every damn time I deal with them... I've been told that I'm "preapproved" about 100 times. There must be a note in my file that I'm poor and therefore a perfect candidate for credit card fees and debt.

Anonymous said...

Would be interested if somebody could provide a link to the rest of this documentary.

Anonymous said...

Zero, I've already given those maggots more than I should have. I hope they all go belly up from lending to deadbeats. That would be a sweet payback. Of course the losses will just come from aunt millie's pension fund. The scamsters already got theirs.

Anonymous said...

Remainder of series at:


Mad planet said...

Excellent analysis by Annie on the roots of the real problem that will finish all of us off soon....


Anonymous said...

I do the same Keith. I do not carry a balance and get cash back and or miles depending on which one I use.

Kind of going way out here , but if more financial responsibility was taught in the schools, at a very young age, I think more people would do the same.

christiangustafson said...

We have two airline-branded VISA cards, and one department store card. We put nearly all of our expenses on the VISA cards for air miles, and pay them off every month.

Remember, to the credit card companies, we are the "deadbeats". The debt slaves are the "good customers".

Ropenhouse said...

I am with you. I use credit cards almost exclusively and carry no balance (if you can not afford it, do not buy it). I am not convinced that the credit card balance issue is the major cause of the housing crisis. Certainly contributes to the problem, but Americans have been carrying credit card debt for years and we have not had this type of problem in the last two decades. The issue in my mind is the lack of equity that home owners now have due to overly agressive lending practices that squeze all the equity out of the house by borrowing 100% of the property value.

- Open House

Agent #777 said...

I agree completely, Keith.

I have not carried a balance in the last 10 years.

Alex said...

I only used my credit card once in the five years I had one and that was for for an item where the seller would not take a debit card. I tore it up and closed my account two weeks ago.
Frankly using it scared the daylights out of me because the terms of use were so opaque I never fully understood them.

uknowwhoiyam said...

The bankrate.com article is from 2004, not 2006 as the referring website implies.

Has anyone seen a more up-to-date fact sheet?

Charles said...

Sure I carry a balance...

$4000 on a 0% Citi and $3000 on a 3.9% fixed AMEX :)

Who wouldn't want to borrow money at a negative interest rate after you figure in inflation???

Suzanne's coke dealer said...

None, zip, nada. Not for the past 7 years. I keep 2 for emergency and never had to use them. Pay with debit card for everyting and keep the balance on it below $6K in case anyone ever steals my ID.

Anonymous said...

Same as you, I use credit cards for everything, gladly collect my cash back or Starbucks gift cards from rewards points, but I pay at the end of every month. Anyone who would carry a balance and pay 20% interest needs their head examined.

beanpohl said...

Very interesting video, thanks Keith. The rest of the special can be found here:

beanpohl said...

Very interesting video, thanks Keith. The rest of the Frontline special can be found here:

Anonymous said...

In regards to "I just don't get that" ..carrying a balance on a credit card, you obviously have never had any bad luck befall you.

Anonymous said...

6 cards, $0 balance, $0 debt.
Put everything on cards, groceries, lunch, bar tabs.

pay in full every month, been doing this since i turned 18 (now 36), seemed only logical to me to not pay 10+ percent interest.

(credit card co's hate me i'm sure)

Anonymous said...

3 credit cards:

One for airline miles (for all purchases except gas and online)
another for gas (credits back 5% of gas purchases)
and a third for online purchases.

Never carry a balance

Vandal said...

In 2000 I was layed off for a second time, between my wife and I, we had 5 credit cards with balances totalling $50K. Mainly medical debts, covering of lost wages, car repeairs, and quite a bit of stupid stuff.

I'm happy to say that the last card will finally be paid off at the end of this March. This was done by excessive hard work which paid off in a better salary and a whole lot of financial discipline.

Unlike todays fools, I refused to take the easy road of bankruptcy and bad credit, even through the worst of times, never, ever, did I miss a payment. I took on additional work instead. To me going into bankcruptcy or defaulting on payments is a shame.

Home prices shot up in 2003 to silly levels in Northern VA, rents got too high, I refused to jump on the crazy bubble and moved. I got a 2000sq ft. townhouse the MD exhurbs for $90/sq foot, the monthly payment is below the equivalent rents. I put some of the debt into a home equity loan of $30K and refused to spend a penny of it on anything but eliminating debt. I pay above the minimum on these mortgages which cuts thousands off the amount applied to interest.

The banks are not thrilled with me for this. How dare I elimnate my debt! They throw enough offers for credit lines at me constantly I could heat the house with the wasted paper.

The end rewards for this hard work...over $2500 a month in cash to invest, save, or spend. Both cars will be payed off this year freeing another $500.

Meanwhile 2 of my neighbors who bought their paces at a rediculous $170/sq ft. have been foreclosed. 75% of the rest are now underwater, bag holders from the original buyer who cashed out to go into debt on something bigger. Prices have dropped $50K already and I'm still over $100K from being underwater.

Hard works always pays in the end.

Anonymous said...



Just Paid Off!



Jacob said...

I got a few credit cards.

Discover Card
WaMu Visa
Target Visa
Paypal Mastercard (actually a debit card).

I use credit cards for everything, rarely carry more that $20 cash. Then each month I pay off the credit cards 100%.

All my credit cards have no anual fee and I have never paid an interest charge. They can make their money from the merchants, but I'm not paying extra.

Daniel (the other one) said...

I have 4 cards--2 in my name, 2 held jointly with my wife. All give us 1% cash back. The total credit limits on these 4 together is about $50k, but we never carry a balance. No need to, since we aren't typical American consumerist sheeple, buying crap we don't need. All cards are automatically paid in full each month from our bank accounts.

Anonymous said...

I have 4 credit card . I pay the balance monthly and get the cash back deals . It's much easier paying for all purchases this way . I know a couple that puts everything on their credit cards just to get discounted airplane tickets .

That being said ,I think I might spend more because of the credit cards .

Anonymous said...

I only have four, and they're all of the reward variety. I started with one from BOA, but they are jackasses in general so I didn't use it. Then I got two from Chase, but they'll use any excuse to charge you a fee for one thing or another so I don't use those anymore. I'm going to open a checking account with them just to get the $125 bounty and then close it at the end of the term.
Now I use a Citibank rewards card that pays double rewards for the first six months but I'll be shopping for a new card when that offer is over.
I never carry a balance unless it's interest free and if I do get charged a fee I'm sure to get it refunded or I'll waste as many customer service calls as necessary to make it even.
I make them earn every penny!

Anonymous said...

One credit card. No balance.

Anonymous said...

About 5K now down from 13K a few months back. Balance was largely attributed to bar review course, expenses during study and private educational loan (which I transferred to the card to get the lower rate.)

Anonymous said...

I've never carried a balance on my credit cards since I got my first Sears card in 1989.

I gotta think that credit card interest rates, fees, late fees, etc., are simply a stupidity tax. The only problem is that the tax acrues to a private corporation. I think that instead, the money should be used to help people realize they shouldn't buy shit they can't afford. I suggest using heavy wooden clubs, which could possibly be used to beat some sense into the people who carry a balance on their cards.

Anonymous said...

one - 400 balance
Car - 10K
House - 55K

total ~66K

Jamba Monkee said...

Three credit cards, paid off each month since 1995. I hate debt and paying interest. I was in debt slavery for about seven years prior to '95, then I finally wised up. Luckily, I hate shopping so that helps to keep the balances low. If I can't pay it off, I don't buy it.

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

I have three credit cards.

All with zero balance (this really keeps my credit score high).

I use an Amex card for all of my personal and business transactions and pay it off in full every month.

Amex's year-end summary they mail out is especially nice for keeping records and doing taxes.

bickerer said...

One card. Zero balance.

Nice to not have the robber barrons juppin my shit.

Anonymous said...

One Crd only. $60k limit. Never
get that high. Paid to $0 every

Andrew Hac said...

Three things the Americano are very good about:

1) Braging
2) Deep in debt
3) Full of shit

VR said...

How many credit cards do you have?


Do you carry a balance?

Hell no.

If so, how much total credit card debt do you have?


I use my credit card when I need a rental car and pay off the balance immediately. Other than that, I pay with cash.

I refuse to use credit to supplement my income. I don't see why people have to live above their means.

Anonymous said...

One credit card (Cap. One), $10,000 limit, ZERO balance.

It gets paid off in full at the end of every month, plus good cash back program.

It's awesome to be a deadbeat!

Anonymous said...

My distinct pleasure is carrying 3 credit cards and paying them off at the end of the month, thereby depriving the bloodsuckers of 95 percent of the profit they expected on my account (they still get the $ from the retailers I buy from, and whatever yearly fee I pay). What I can't stand is the dozens of LIVE CHECKS with my name on them they send through unsecured snail mail that anyone could steal out of my mailbox out on the road. No wonder there's a huge credit card balance problem in this country...sending live checks in the mail...

Anonymous said...

I pay off all my balances these days, but when I was just scraping by, I didn't. And as time went by and I developed a high credit rating, I took advantage of very low rate (sometimes 0%) balance transfers. At that point, taking inflation into account, I was probably actually coming out ahead on a couple of the cards. By and large, though, paying everything off finally was a huge relief.

Anonymous said...

I have 3.5 on a credit card, 12 on a car, and 12 in student loans. But, I'm 6 months into my first job out of grad school... suffice it to say the DTI is nowhere near the FHA max.

But Anonymous, they say, take another credit card! I rip up the envelope, cackling maniacally as I turn left despite the red arrow.

Anonymous said...

Three credit cards.
No unpaid balances.

We charge everything on credit cards and pay them off at the end of the month. The card companies offer a lot of give backs in the hope of snaring the sheeple into
minimum payments and unpaid balances.

The AAA MasterCard has a great give back program. Cash returns on gas purchases and $50 voucher for every $5000 charged. The voucher can be used for a number of things,but I generally save them up to pay my yearly dues for AAA premium road service on two vehicles which is $149. Nice, I basically get free AAA coverage.

Anonymous said...


We're on the Dave Ramsey plan!

I just paid off my last $2,700 in credit card debt. The accounts will be closed shortly.

I plan to pay off our last debt (besides the house), a van, in the next couple of months.

In 1997, we had $22,000 of credit card debt, which we rolled into a 2nd mortgage, after which, we promptly bought a new car!

We decided that was unacceptable, so we started paying down on our debt, but we didn't really start getting mad at debt until a few months ago, when we decided to actually LISTEN to what Dave Ramsey says.

Our house is about 1.4x our annual income, and we have a 5.75 fixed for 10 more years (out of 15). If we don't get that paid off early, I'll still be debt free at 51 (wife at 54).

Feels good. I just hope the economy doesn't totally tank about then.

Anonymous said...

I love my CC, we charge everything on it and like a deadbeat we pay it off every month. Then we get cash back, gift card or airline miles. Yes, yes I know the CC companies hate people like us, but I spend less with a CC in my pocket then cash. We know many people who have large balances on their CC, but we keep quiet how well we use then.

devestment said...


Beware the plastic money, it seduces you into spending on objects you normally would not buy.

Plastic is not status, it does not make you worthy or proffered.

Use cash and watch how much less you spend.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have about 12 credit cards with a $60,000. dollar balance. Interest rate is at about 20%. My monthly payments are through the roof. I am a renter.

I am drowning in debt. I want a bailout. Can HPers bail me out?

January 06, 2008 6:06 PM<<<

well since bush wants to bail out subprime borrowers, maybe we can get him to bail out cc debtors too. its all good. don't worry about it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous guitargirl said...

I will keep predicting this until I'm proved right or wrong, but one of the hallmarks of this year will be money being moved out of 401k's and mutual funds in large quantities (reaking more havoc on the stock market) in effort to pay off credit cards and any other high interest debts they have.<<<

interesting theory but do we really know as of yet how much the subprime meltdown has affected retirement accounts? oh sure we have heard some things but not everything. just how many of these retirement funds have invested in cdo bonds and for how much? no one knows or is saying as of yet?

MrBill said...

I carry three cards that I use to maximize rebates and do not carry a balance. My total rebate adds up to about $800 to $900 per year.

The statement that "the average American owes over $8000 on credit cards" is highly misleading. This is an oft reported fact that was published some time ago by some credit card company. What was actually reported was that, of people who carry a balance, the average balance is over $8000. The fact is that 55% of Americans either pay the balance in full every month or do not use cards at all. Also, of the people who do carry a balance, the median balance is only $1900. The average balance is skewed high by the minority of users who carry a huge balance.

MrBill said...

A link to back up numbers in my previous post:


Andrew Hac said...

Check out this example:

Typical white-trash piece-of-shit living over their heads. And you wonder why the Americano is going down the gutter.


MrBill said...

Another one:


Quentin Daniel said...

I have 5 credit cards but mostly use only one of them - Discover - because of the cash back bonus. A few places that don't take Discover I use Visa. I pay NO annual fee and I NEVER carry a balance. In my entire life, I have paid $12.18 in credit card interest and that was only once because I accidently underpaid a bill by ONE CENT and subsequently got charged interest for the entire balance for the whole month - DAMN!

Happy Homedebtor said...

Home Depot: $3300 @ 0%, due in March (paying off in Feb)

Havertys: 2500ish @ 0%, due Dec (paying off in March).

AmEx: TBD (disputing a huge chunk 'cuz a contractor screwed up), 0% through Dec. Paying off slowly.

Starting in March we're funneling $2500/mo into IRAs & savings. Tax refund and annual bonuses will be going into savings as well.

Wife and I are playing swappy with the 0%: she gets to open a card late next year and we roll the remainder of the balance there and keep tossing the min @ it while saving/investing.

New house, 2 new cars, new furniture, new cellphones ($5 for a Moto q9m, wewt!), new electronics...short of clothes and food, we're not buying anything in '08. Anti-consumers!

Anonymous said...

Dave Ramsay is a fool. I have listened to his show every now and then. Whenever someone calls in to say we're thinking about buying a house, Dave never says don't do it, rent instead.

He is still clinging to the notion that housing is in just a teenie bit of a slump and all will be well soon.

Anonymous said...

Cash back rocks!

Have many cards and lots of credit. Use a fraction of it and pay it off every month.

Recent times have made it clear to me that ALL debt is bad, in any form. I don't even want a mortgage, ever...

Renting = freedom!

Anonymous said...

We charge everything on our credit card. Have never carried a balance in 18 years (got first card in college).

We accrue miles - use them for upgrades to first or business class. Especially on transatlantic flights :)

Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago, my wife and I literally froze our credit cards. We put them in a cup of water, stuck them in the freezer and froze them solid. If we need to use one, we need to thaw it out. The thawing process takes long enough that you really need to think about whether you should be using credit for this purchase. Plus, the water/ice doesn't damage the mag strip.

To this day, all our cards, except one, are sitting in the freezer. (We need one for rental cars where debit cards don't work well.) Only down-side: once the frozen cup fell out of the freezer and broke a floor tile.


coldandcareful said...

but one of the hallmarks of this year will be money being moved out of 401k's and mutual funds in large quantities (reaking more havoc on the stock market) in effort to pay off credit cards and any other high interest debts they have. The consumers feel they have nothing to lose by doing this since the stock market is going down anyway. (Even the high taxes and a 10 percent penalty is not going to dissuade them.)

I believe that you are correct here. Let me add that I also believe that the loss from early withdrawl is not nearly as large as many believe.
1. 10% before age 59-1/2. You're stuck with that if you're under 59-1/2 but wait,
2. taxes at let's say 30% total state and federal. Consider this, you will always have to pay this tax upon withdrawl and taxes are quite likely to increase significantly in both the near and long term. Near term, state deficits due to our RE/financial friends. Long term, SS funding for the wave of retirees which is starting to arrive this year. That wave will be a double whammy, both tax increases to pay for entitlements and a hit on the value of tax deffered accounts as the retirees make large steady withdrawls to their accounts. More sellers in the market means lower prices.
3. Losing the tax deffered benefit on your interest income. First many of these accounts have paid low interest rates and the so the effective boost in return is simply not that great. Second, at this point the issue is not maximum return, it's minimum loss. Just ask the folks who invested in those Bear Sterns hedge funds.
4. Unemployment. If there are significant job losses guess what those people do with the money in their retirement funds? They withdraw it to live on it, not much choice there.

There are multiple potential forces here that could make this a runaway snowball situation. As they say, if you're going to panic, panic first. If this is a calm, considered decision then it is not panic it is minimizing one's risk and that is good thinking.

Oh, and as always, no matter what happens, the commission-parasites will come out smelling like roses.

lulugal11 said...

I have been reading this blog for a while and I must say you are doing a great job.

I use my credit cards all the time, well one actually that I put everything on and do not carry a balance on. It is a cash back card so that is good for me.

Unfortunately I do carry a (declining) balance on my other cards. I have been in school all my life and just got a job 4 months ago. My cards paid for college so that is what the balance is from. I do not charge anything more on those old cards and I pay on them every month so the balances are going down...it is just taking a while since I just got a job not too long ago.

happy homeowner in the stix said...

Got about the "average balance" ($8500), but at zero interest on two cards. One till August, one till 2009. Will have it paid off before the deadlines, so not worried about that....we'll just keep racking up a tiny bit of interest on the savings instead of paying them off at this moment.

Have five other cards we really don't use much (every other month we charge some goofy thing so they'll keep the accounts open).

I know we get rewards points on two of them, but haven't been motivated lately to see what we've "earned". Last time I had some travel miles I ended up donating them to a group that helps servicemen and women fly back home in emergencies, so I don't think we have anything substantial there (yep, pretty lazy....but it's not like we are going to go anywhere anyway with a toddler in tow).

We just refuse to carry any card that charges an annual fee. There's plenty out there that will give decent rewards without that, so why pay it?

Still wish I could convince them not to keep sending those stupid "credit card checks", though. WaMu's the worst about that.

Anonymous said...

Credit cards are like Las Vegas, the losers pay for the winners. And by that I mean that I don't gamble but I do go to enjoy relatively cheap hotel rooms, shows and dinner. As I walk past the suckers in the casino, I always do a silent thank you to the sucker at the slot machine.

I have never held a balance in 25 years. I have multiple cards with no annual fee because the more credit cards one has but DOES NOT USE, the better your overall credit score. This will help me in financing rates when I move back in to help the poor people who are going to be losing their homes over the next few years.

Anonymous said...

None, I pay cash.

My FICO is 800+

Am I too dumb to get zero percent interest, ect.... I guess so. I keep my life simple.

eric in vegas said...

"I can't wait to see what happens once they figure out that they are not getting their principle back from all the people making 25K/year who charged their plasmas and trips to Hawaii."

They cut the interest rate to 0% or very close to it to keep people from defaulting on their balances.

Anonymous said...

One credit card.

No balance carried forward.

Anonymous said...


I do have a car loan though which I wish I didn't have. At the mature age of 30 I'd rather drive around in a shitbox than the nice car with the high car payments I have now.

Anonymous said...

$3800 Discover:

-Leftover from college. Was at 5900 two years ago w/200 a month payments...

Now at 3800 with 100 a month payments. Paying down at 200 a month.

3000 Chase:

Going to pay it off with my bonus in March.

18000 Car:

WRX/STI grad present to myself. I now realize I should have not done that.

At least HP saved me from the biggest mistake of my life ever. A House! All my friends are COMPLETELY housepoor; I mean; they can't even go get a StarBucks poor.

I just started my career 2 years ago; so I am still in stabilization stage. My plan is to have everything paid off in 2 years; which includes the car and both lines of credit.

I see there are a lot of people on here who have no CC's or Loans! I can't wait to get there!

Anonymous said...

3 for the family, one joint and two separate. Charge almost everything on them and pay balance every month. We also get about $400 a year in "cash back".

Andy in San Diego said...

So many great comments. Can't read them all.

i love sexy realtors: [Credit card companies] prey on poor uneducated people...

No, they prey on all of us. Well, I guess if you accept that we are the poor uneducated people, maybe you're right.

No free lunch, folks. We're all paying higher prices for the privilege of using credit cards and being "rewarded" with miles and cash back. They're skimming off all the credit card users and funneling all that money to the already insanely wealthy. Oh, well, keep playing the cash back game. At least the extra 2% we're paying for everything goes to the merchant when I pay cash instead of to the CC company.

Keith, you can run this blog, but you can't track your finances without the CC companies' help? OK.

No credit cards here. No cash back. No free miles. No big loss.

Dino said...

Sure they can't pay the cc company back. But they still get to keep the goods they bought. So who is the winner and who is the loser? You paid $0 and got nothing. They paid $0 and got tens of thousands worth of goods and services.

Oh and between my wife and I we have 13 credit cards. Yeah I know, crazy right. Total balance carried is $0 every month. We use ccs for everything, eve paying utilities for the cashback and miles.

I also like knowing that if we ever really needed money and fast we have access to almost $200,000 between the 13.

Funny thing is they keep raising the credit limits all the time. I wonder what kind of logic they use. I see Mr. Dino has $8000 yet the last time he used his card was 2005. Let's up his line to $11,000 and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I don't even like using debit cards.

Anyhow...I have one card...no balance...but I have to have it if I want to get plane tickets online.

Anonymous said...

one credit card with limit of $8k. always pay it off; never carry a balance. use it sparingly...trips, mail/internet orders, etc. use cash for pretty much everything day-to-day. one thing i hate the thought of is a company knowing everything about your purchases as well as knowing your whereabouts all the time. i hate the tracking aspect of a cc. i'm not a nut case or paranoid; i just hate the idea of my whereabouts being recorded and stored forever...that's creepy!

TM said...

I have two active cards, one is a cash-back Amex that I pay off every month. The other is a credit card I keep around for emergencies. It has a zero balance.

Gotta love the cash back, but I also enjoy the free interest gain as my money sits one month longer in my interest-bearing accounts than it would if I paid directly for things with my own money (we call this "float" in the insurance industry, and it's a beautiful thing).

TM said...

Now that I've read most of the posts, I have to say that I really like the good vibes on this thread.

The trolls sometimes have a point when they say we seem a bit too eager to see other people fall on hard times. But here is proof otherwise.

Most HP'rs are supportive and encouraging when people post mature and sober strategies for getting themselves about of debt.

Even if you were a complete fool up until yesterday with your money, but you woke up and faced reality this morning, you have friends here.

At least that's how I feel about it.

Anonymous said...

"Maxed Out"

nfn.nln said...

According to the movie Maxed-Out the credit card companies can change the interest rate at will with only 15 days notice. The 0% interest trap was one of the things they talk about. Some people had large 0% loans and the credit card up'd the rate to 24.99%... which apparently was legal.

Anonymous said...

debtors prisons would solve this problem

Anonymous said...

I owe $63,000 on my credit cards. I bought a whole lot of shit: vacation to Hawaii and Las Vegas (staying at nice hotels of course), a big screen tv, video ipods for all of my family, etc... Now, I am behind on my payments and my credit card company actually lowered my interest rates from 21% to 15%. I only make minimum payments and then in June or July of 2008 I will default on my debt. I figure that since the corporations always screwed me, I will screw them.

Anonymous said...

Definitely not your average American.

No mortgage, no student loans, no car note, no credit card debt.

Zero debt and a 5 figure positive net worth, that is higher after the shorts this week.

Anonymous said...

Great video. I have questions. So the usury laws kept the rate low and that kept the economy down. They eliminate usury laws and that lets the economy grow. But then folks get upset about the profits. No one is ever satisfied. That old banker dude talked about his bank having to borrow at 20pc and only being able to lend it out at 12pc so lending did not occur with that upside down ratio. My question is why didn't the usury law that applied to the banker also apply to his lender whomever that was, the fed perhaps? If the government sees its role as having usury laws in the first place to protect ppl, instead of eliminating them, how about changing them to a fixed pc above the rate bank can borrow, say 6pc? So when the old banker borrows at 20pc, he won't cry about 12pc because he'll be able to lend out at 26pc! But then when the 20pc goes to 10, it's 16 now, or 4, it'll be 10. The bank makes money, but not at usurious rates, and the rate moves to accomodate growth.

Anonymous said...

I have an AMEX that gives me 3% cashback on restaurant purchases, 2% on travel, 1% on everything else. I have a Citibank Shell card that gives me 5% cashback on Shell gas, and 1% on everything else. I charge $1500-$2000 a month on these cards and pay them off in full each month. I have five other cards that I don't use much.

For a couple of years, I was having some of the credit card companies send me checks with no fee at 0%, or get balance transfers. I would then put the money into my ING and/or Emigrant Direct accounts and earn @5% interest. I'd pay my minimums and at the end of the intro rate, I'd pay the credit cards off in full. I've had upto $40,000 of the credit card companies money working for me at a time. 0% with no fee is getting harder to get, though. I don't know if I've been flagged or if it's harder for everyone. My credit is still 750+. I haven't looked into what deals are out there in months. I think I'm going to see what's out there.

$2,000 or so a year isn't a huge amount of money... but why not take it if they're just giving it away?

mhrist said...

How happy we are...


Anonymous said...

NONE. NADA. ZERO. We use my wife's. I pay cash for everything. A nice bi-product of my shitty financial management during my 20s.

Anonymous said...

According to the movie Maxed-Out the credit card companies can change the interest rate at will with only 15 days notice. The 0% interest trap was one of the things they talk about. Some people had large 0% loans and the credit card up'd the rate to 24.99%... which apparently was legal.

January 07, 2008 11:42 PM


You missed a key point there Skippy. The 0% is raised to 24.99% if and this is key, so read carefully, you miss a payment.

Maxed out like Super Size Me, gives only 1/2 the story. While never lying, they all omit a lot of truth.

Anonymous said...

1 credit card for 22 years. ZERO interest paid in 22 years.

nfn.nln said...

According to the movie Maxed-Out the credit card companies can change the interest rate at will with only 15 days notice. The 0% interest trap was one of the things they talk about. Some people had large 0% loans and the credit card up'd the rate to 24.99%... which apparently was legal.

January 07, 2008 11:42 PM


You missed a key point there Skippy. The 0% is raised to 24.99% if and this is key, so read carefully, you miss a payment.

Maxed out like Super Size Me, gives only 1/2 the story. While never lying, they all omit a lot of truth.

January 08, 2008 12:31 PM


"One of those traps according to Warren and other critics is universal default. If you do miss a mortgage payment, you do miss a car payment or any other [payment] it can trigger what is called a universal default. They actually have the right to change it if you miss a payment with another creditor. Or in some cases if there is a change in your credit worthiness. In fact you don't have to miss a payment ... maybe your balances are too high."

- Secret History of the Credit Card Part 3; 5:30-6:10.

Also here is a Wiki reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_default

"Normally the default rate is charged when a customer fails to make a payment on a particular lender's credit card, but with universal default, the lender will charge the rate if the customer defaults elsewhere."

Normally doesn't mean what they can and will do.

I take it, SKIPPY, that you tried to work the system by taking out a bunch of 0% loans, otherwise you wouldn't be so defensive and/or anonymous?

Perhaps you put the money in a savings account and can pay it back right away if needed? Perhaps you spent it already and they have you by the balls??? :)

nfn.nln said...

Nobody makes money with a 0% loan. They just give you enough rope to hang yourself. If you took the bait and put it in a bank account untouched I guess you're safe. Unless the bank goes under... and you're making 24% interest payments until the FDIC insurance check comes :).

Anonymous said...

Theyyyrre Baaack!

Just received an unsolicited, pre-approved, SBA loan offer from CitiBank. These wankers are offering me $50K at prime+4, guaranteed by Uncle Sugar. All I have to do is sign.

Man oh man how things have changed since 1992 when my company borrowed $150K from the SBA. They attached everything as collateral, even the officer's homes, and it took three months to get the loan approved and two more months to get access to the funds.

This country is screwed.

Anonymous said...

I have been revolving my credit card payments now for about 5 years.

I have 6 cards> I pay off one card by borrowing on another. The next month I pay off the previous balance.

I started out owning 1500.00, now I owe 31,750.00.

The beauty is that I will never have to actually pay off anything. If I ever need something big, I just put it on the circuit.

CreditCards.com said...

I'm Dan Ray, the editor of CreditCards.com, which was cited in an earlier post regarding the average amount of credit card debt. There has been some argument here over what the true size of household credit card debt, and that's not surprising: The Federal Reserve's own economists don't know either. The problem of "missing debt" was subject of a recent paper by economists with the payments group at the Fed's Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/pcc/update/2007/winter/winter07_05.cfm