9 Reasons We Use Credit Cards to Simplify our Lives

posted by Andrea | 01/25/2018

9 reasons we use credit cards to simplify

I got my first credit card when I was 16 years old… yes, 16.

It was my parent’s idea, and of course, since I was only 16, they had to put their names on the card too.

The card was for emergencies, or for purchases that were approved by them ahead of time — however, in the mean time, I was building my credit score from a VERY early age (which was extremely helpful later on in life).

I got my own credit card at 18 (when I went off to college) and although my parent’s names were not on the card anymore, I had 2 years of credit card experience under my belt, so it really wasn’t anything new or “tempting” for me. I understood how to use a credit card, I didn’t buy anything I couldn’t afford, my bills were usually less than $30 a month, and I paid them off in full at the end of each month.

Fast-forward 14+ years and I’m still using credit cards for almost every single thing I buy. I still don’t buy anything we can’t afford, I still pay the bill in full at the end of the month, but unfortunately, the bills are more than $30 a month 🙂

credit cards

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I know, I know…there are lots of people who are anti-credit cards (I do honestly understand why).

It’s not popular to talk about using credit cards these days; it’s more popular to pay cash for everything, use the envelope method, follow Dave Ramsey, be financially responsible, and be debt-free… and YES, those are all good things!

However, from my own personal experience, I know for a fact it’s also possible to be financially responsible and debt-free using credit cards.

Credit cards are not “good” or “bad”; they are just a tool that can be used to do good or do bad.

I definitely don’t think credit cards are the best financial decision for everyone — nor do I think using a cash-only budget is the best financial decision for everyone either.

That said, here are just a few of the ways credit cards majorly simplify Dave and my life. 

9 reasons we use credit cards to simplify

1. We don’t need to record every payment right away.

I realize many of you who use cash, debit cards, and/or checks probably don’t record your payments right away either — but I couldn’t do that! Specifically, if I was writing a check or using a debit card, I would feel like I needed to record that payment immediately in my bank register and my Finance-Tracking Workbook to ensure my account was balanced at all times.

Maybe that’s my own craziness, but it’s one HUGE reason we choose to use credit cards for almost everything. All I need to do is scan over my eStatement at the end of the month and I can instantly record all my transactions at one time.

2. We don’t need to carry cash.

I hate carrying cash. I’m really not sure why — but I do! I don’t like the bulkiness in my wallet, I don’t like to risk losing it, I don’t like jingling change, etc. etc. etc.

Besides Craigslist purchases, I use credit card or PayPal for almost everything!

3. We don’t need to go into gas stations.

With as many as 4 children in the car, there is no way I’m going into the gas station.

Yes, I realize I could pay at the pump with a debit card… but you know how I feel about debit cards (see #1 above!)

4. We can pounce on a great deal when we see one.

There have been times when we have been on the look-out for a particular item and all of a sudden, we find it for an amazing deal. Sometimes that item is pricy — and since we don’t usually keep tons of excess cash in our checking account (thanks to basically 0% interest), we might not be able to buy it if we only shopped with cash, check, or debit card.

With a credit card, we can capitalize on that great deal immediately, and then make sure the money is in our checking account before it’s time to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month.

Oh, and in case this sounds like Dave and I are crazy impulse shoppers, let me just assure you WE ARE NOT!!

If you were to hack into our credit card account and look at our monthly bills, you most likely won’t find many other transactions besides gas, groceries, and home utility bills. If/when we go out to eat, we almost always use gift cards, and if we buy clothes, it’s usually from a place like Swap.com, ThredUp.com or with gift cards we’ve gotten for Christmas or birthdays.

5. We only need to pay one bill at the end of the month.

This point kind of ties in with #1 — but I can’t tell you how much simpler our finances feel when we know we only have ONE bill to pay every month.

We currently only have one credit card for personal use (I have another one for my business) and every single monthly expense we have goes to that personal credit card. Then our credit card balance is deducted, in full, from our checking account at the end of the month.

We never need to worry about missing a payment, forgetting to write a check, forgetting to authorize a debit card transaction, forgetting to balance our bank account and ending up over-drawn, etc. etc.

For me, this is one of the top reasons we stick with credit cards — because it’s just SO simple!

6. We don’t have money tied up until it’s actually time to pay the bill.

Have you ever tried to rent a car, make a hotel reservation, or reserve any type of tickets with a debit card? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the full amount for the rental or reservation is withdrawn from your bank account immediately. That means, if you book a hotel and rental car 6 months in advance, you are out that cash for the full 6 months before you even take your vacation.

For some people, I can TOTALLY see why this would be a positive thing (your vacation is paid for before you go!). However, for me, I know I would never take any sort of vacation I couldn’t afford to pay cash for — so I’d personally rather put all those reservations on my credit card, and wait to pay for the trip until a full month after we get back. Meanwhile, the money is mine to use as I please — or get get a whopping 1% interest sitting in our savings account 🙂

7. We get rewards, special discounts, cash back, etc.

I suppose this is kind of a given — it’s one of the main perks of using a credit card these days. Of course, the reason companies can afford to give cash back is because of ALLLLLLLLLL the people who pay interest on their credit card balances every year.

However, if you pay off your bills in full every month, these rewards and cash back really are “free money”.

Not only do we get a percentage back on everything we buy, we also get special coupons and discount rates all year long — which definitely add up over time.

8. We have amazing credit scores.

Since both Dave and I have been using credit cards responsibly for many years, we both have excellent (almost perfect) credit scores. And although we hope to never need to borrow money again, our really good credit scores came in handy when it was time for us to get our mortgage.

Not only did these scores help us to get a loan in one of the worst economic times our area had seen in a LONG time, it also helped us to qualify for an insanely low interest rate (2. 4%) which saved us thousands of dollars on interest, and was one of the biggest reasons we were able to pay off our mortgage so quickly.

9. We don’t need to carry cash!

Did I mention this already?? 🙂

In case you can’t tell, I HATE carrying cash around. Even though I do a lot of Craigslist shopping, I usually just keep the cash at home or quickly swing by the bank on my way to make a purchase. I don’t like carrying it in my wallet.

credit cards

photo source

Now again, I want to reiterate that I have absolutely NOTHING against anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable using credit cards and would rather use cash or debit cards to pay for everything.

And I don’t have anything against Dave Ramsey either. In fact, Dave (Dekker) used the Dave Ramsey curriculum to teach a Personal Finance class for a couple years… and we both know several people who have completely transformed their finances and their lives thanks to the Dave Ramsey classes and cash-only system. So obviously, cash-only systems work too!

I just think it’s important to see both sides.

There is nothing evil or bad or sinful or irresponsible about using credit cards IF you use them wisely and only buy things you have the money to pay for.

I realize that Dave and I were both brought up in families who gravitate more towards the conservative side of the spectrum — and I’m thankful we were both taught sound financial lessons from a very young age. Without those early money-management lessons, we might not be in the same situation we are today.

What are YOUR thoughts on using credit cards versus cash?

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118 comments

  1. Karen

    08/26/2018

    Do you have your monthly payment electronically deducted or do you write a check and mail it in?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the credit card bill is directly withdrawn from our checking account (paid in full) at the beginning of the following month.

    [Reply]

  2. Pixie508

    02/07/2018

    For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have used one credit card to pay all of their monthly bills, and then they use the cash back at the end of the year to pay for Christmas for our family. I always thought that was genius!

    I totally agree, that if you can’t control yourself, then CC are not a good idea. But, we have a couple of cards – our Costco card for instance pays for our membership with the rewards we earn from using it there (and then some). We have an Amazon branded one that gets us 5% back on all amazon purchases (and we buy a lot of things, including our monthly diaper shipment from them). So for us, it’s worth it to buy on our cards, earn the perks, and pay them off.

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  3. Sara

    01/30/2018

    I’m really happy that you have said what I have been feeling. I feel like I have defend my use of credit cards. Not everyone that uses credit cards is financially irresponsible. I too always pay off my credit card balance every month. I use my card for just about everything. This keeps my spending all on one ledger, and I get credit card rewards too! Thank you for defending this currently unpopular financial choice.

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  4. Babs

    01/26/2018

    YNAB-Ymou Need A Budget- Jesse Mecham; on FB, You Tube- Excellent!

    [Reply]

  5. Meg

    01/25/2018

    I love this post. We take and leave some of Dave Ramsey’s ideas- his view of credit cards we leave. We have always been responsible with cards paying the balance off monthly. I love hiw they make tracking purchases easier. I know I would forget purchases if made with all cash. We leveraged different credit card introductory offers ( not a good idea unless you are well organized) to pay for our Disney vacation. We saved over $2,500 just from credit card points, etc.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s amazing! Good for you!

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  6. Kim

    01/25/2018

    I use my credit card a ton, but I never carry a balance and I am disciplined with it. Many people are not. I think it is just too easy for people to do stupid financial things when all they have to do is whip out the plastic. I used to work at a mortgage company and I could not believe how much credit card debt people carried and how much dinged up credit people had. There were many people for whom their debt to income ratio was too high for us to give them a mortgage. So I think a person really has to know themselves and be honest before they start using a credit card. Even amongst my adult children I have advised two to get a credit card and another to absolutely not.

    I agree with you that they aren’t good or bad, but I honestly don’t think most people should use them on a regular basis.

    [Reply]

  7. Susie

    01/25/2018

    We have done the same as you. We spend a lot more then I think we should, but we pay it off every month and would be spending the same with cash/debit cards. This post sure got a lot of comments!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I love that you freely admit that you spend a lot more than you think you should 🙂

    I was actually just telling Dave that since Clara was born, I’ve spent more than I think I should too. I’m all for convenience these days (even if it costs a bit more!)

    [Reply]

  8. Liane

    01/25/2018

    I’m all for doing this too. I did it for flyer miles. Now we just put every bill on direct debit. It means having a fixed amount coming in — won’t work for commission people or part time on call types but my hubby has an annual salary so budgeting is easy.

    I’m all for Ramsey for a lot of his advice — pay off debt and your mortgage, keep a sizable amount of liquid assets in reserve (we built up to 6 months by saving what used to be our mortgage payment) and I do have a small amount of cash in the house in the form of large bills in case the power goes out and stores can’t use cards (happened twice last year). That of course assumes I can get out of the garage since the door is electric.

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  9. Sandy

    01/25/2018

    I have a card or two. I pay them off every month. I don’t really care what tool (cash or card) anyone else uses in their spending or budgeting.
    I do care when they expect their ‘loan’, which is what a credit card is, to be forgiven because they did not manage their income and “outgo” well. I understand emergencies happen, but I know many card users who have emergency after emergency. I’m not judging, just observing.

    MOST people in the U.S. DO NOT pay their cards off each month. They spend more than they make and fool themselves into thinking they can pay off one with another and think they are getting ahead. That’s where I think Dave R is totally on point.
    It’s more a mindset problem then a ‘tool’ (cash or card) problem. Dave R is providing a great service to people to get control of their spending.

    I am also saddened every time I use cash and the cashier can’t even figure out what change to give me. That’s a basic skill that is lost today.

    [Reply]

  10. Jana

    01/25/2018

    We also use credit cards all the time and pay them off each month. My husband does not carry any cash with him. I will warn you though, when your kids hit middle school you will need to have cash on hand for all sorts of school things – bake sale, shirt sale, donut sale, sporting ticket, music ticket, theater ticket, etc. I would always try to have some cash on hand when my boys were in junior and senior high. Or make sure they have some spending cash from babysitting or odd jobs. Now that our boys are grown, I rarely use the cash in my wallet. All good stages of life!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, we aren’t quite there yet — Nora needs $0.25 evrey other Friday for a cookie at school, but I can’t usually come up with that somewhere in the house 🙂 Also, I’ve used Paypal SO much more recently! I just send money to other parents in the class for Teacher gifts, send money to friends and family to pay for random things. It’s amazing how little need I have for cash these days!

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  11. Georgia

    01/25/2018

    I also use my credit card for everything unless there is a fee to us it like our utility bill (heat and lights), water bill and property taxes. they get paid with a check or EFT. I have gotten over $1200 back in the past few years just by using me card. I have bought things with these little windfalls that I would not normally have bought. My wonderful stainless steel cookware with I love, my food processor and just recently my insapot are just a few of the things I got without digging into my money. Like you I pay my bill off every month so there is no interest at all plus the goodies I get. I agree, this is not for everyone, it does take self-discipline.

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  12. Ruth

    01/25/2018

    I never could understand the whole cash system thing. I did try cause there are people who preach it like the second coming, but it was so bulky and worrisome! I hated the thought of losing it which would mean all my money would be gone! I pay my cards off each month. I put a lot on them and get about 4K back each year. Which is better than nothing!

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  13. Ann

    01/25/2018

    Well said. I so value your common sense approach. We, too, use credit cards responsibly and I can’t believe the flak and criticism we get from Ramsey fans. We encourage them to stick with what works for them and we will stick with what works for us. Let’s all play nice in the sandbox!

    [Reply]

  14. Jackie

    01/25/2018

    I am totally team credit card. I actually have a couple that earn me different types of points/cash back, but they all get paid off in full every month. I went on a big trip this past year to Africa and opened a credit card specifically for that trip to get bonus points which I then used towards my round trip air fare. In total, I think I paid about $200 (the fees) on a round trip ticket to Africa!

    Using a credit card also helps me budget and keep track of purchases. I use a spreadsheet to record and categorize my purchases, but I collect all the data on the purchases from Mint which pulls the data from all my accounts.

    [Reply]

  15. Jenna

    01/25/2018

    I want to get in the habit of earning the perks, but it scares me because the cash and recording everything is so firmly embedded in me. I worry that something will get charged that I can not pay for at the end of the month. I see your points and I am at a stage where I could manage (4 grown college/married children) but it is overwhelming to let go. Maybe I will give it a try because I definitely have months (like this one where we bought and are selling homes) where making it all come together is tough but it is coming together and usually does. Thanks for your input. I need to look at your home payoff plan.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Jenna,
    Honestly, the point of this post is definitely NOT to convince people to change from cash to credit card!! If you have a great system that has been working well for you, don’t change it! Yes, there are lots of perks to using a credit card, but your own peace of mind is more important than a few extra rewards or cash back!

    [Reply]

  16. KR

    01/25/2018

    I completely agree with this! I love reading financial bloggers and agree that people should try to pay off their consumer debt and pay in whole when possible but sometimes you need a loan, or a good credit score to rent, or you need a newer car right away because your old one died and you don’t feel like draining your savings. We are paying off our minimal debt from being young and stupid and then we plan on using our cards to make our credit score perfect!!!

    [Reply]

  17. JJ

    01/25/2018

    You were the first blogger that didn’t give me unncessary guilt about using credit cards! We also pay everything at the end of the month! I like the rewards and security. When my husband’s credit card number had been stolen, they contacted us right away about suspicious purchases.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — that’s crazy! I can not get over how much guilt and shame are put on credit card users. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t shame people for using cash — why should others care how you or I pay for things!

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