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  • I’m Scared

    Posted on April 24th, 2009 Michael No comments

    I am scared, and I think that many other people are scared as well. I am scared whenever I receive a credit card bill. Well, maybe scared is not the right word. I guess fearful is a better word. I am fearful that my bill will contain some drastically increased fee, a new fee, or penalty charge for something that was previously allowed.

    I know it is my fault for not reading the change-of-terms notice. I did try once, but I did not make it through the first page before I got a headache. I always open the letter up and take a quick look at it. I hope for a miracle where the notice would be easier to read, but that never happens.

    Between the legalese, small print size and artful way information is buried, it makes reading the notice more like torture then a helpful notice designed to inform. Add the almost monthly term changes to the established terms that do not make sense and you have a system that requires putting in a huge effort just to understand and stay current.

    So why are credit card fees and penalties a manufacturing issue? Because over the years the changes to the usage terms has forced a change in how people use their credit cards. Many people used their credit cards for those bigger purchases that they needed to pay off over several months. For example, many years ago my wife and I decided to buy a swimming pool. For many reasons we decided to make the purchase on a credit card. Without the credit card we would either have put off the purchase or simply not made it.

    With the way credit cards are today, my wife and I would never consider charging something and then paying it off over time. It is just too cost prohibitive to do so. This is why my wife and I are holding off redoing our den. With two kids in college we just do not have the money available to pay for everything outright. So we need to save up the money we need so we can pay it off when the bill comes.

    Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I still charge a great deal. Food shopping, clothing, gasoline, and other day to day items are almost always purchased on a credit card. We just do not use our credit card to buy anything that we cannot pay off immediately.

    I do not blame credit card companies, they need to make money. The credit card companies decided that they would make more money if their product changed from being a vacation, business trip, big ticket purchase product into an everyday convenience product. Credit cards accomplished their goal and have, in most cases, become the preferred method of commerce. VISA even has commercial that mock people who pay in cash.

    Is it a bad thing that I now have to save up the money before I buy something big? No, but it is not a good thing either. I might not ever be able to save up the money needed for a purchase. I do have two kids in college. I am just scared that other people are in the same position and not making that big ticket purchase. Well, maybe scared is not the right word.

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