Cash is King? Not in this Lifetime

081214 cash moneyphoto © 2008 Dan4th Nicholas | more info (via: Wylio)
I woke this morning and began reading the day’s personal finance articles as usual. I came across this article in the NY Times where they’re reporting that “the lowest percentage of shoppers in the 27-year-history of a national survey said they used credit cards over the Thanksgiving weekend, while the use of general credit cards like Visa and MasterCard fell 11 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to the credit bureau TransUnion.” Wow! I see 3 takeaways from this story:

1) This is bad, really bad for the credit card companies. Credit card companies rely on the holiday season especially as a time for people to over-spend beyond their budget.

2) This could be good for rewards chasers like me. With utilization down, credit card companies will need to do more to draw in users. That could mean better rewards. The story notes the 5% rewards currently being offered by Target, Chase Freedom, Discover, and Citibank Dividend all at specific stores. I look forward to all of their attempts to gain my business!

3) It looks like that credit card holders who have experience with minimum payments and falling behind on payments have fallen into what I call the Dave Ramsey trap. It’s complete overkill. The trap happens when you take his advice to completely eliminate your card use when what you should be doing is developing a budget, paying off the debt, and then finding a good rewards card so you can make the credit cards work for you. There is a middle ground. However, it starts with spending LESS than you make.

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