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Thread: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    ....Has always puzzled me. From what I've seen, credit, and not debit, cards looks like the norm in the US. I am completely unable to wrap my head around it. I too own a credit card, but I use it almost exclusively for travel abroad, where mastercard provides some nifty benefits. My debit card isn't very cheap to use abroad either, so the difference is quite small. The debt is repaid instantly upon return.

    The concept of keeping a credit card debt over time is truly alien to me. Now Marketwatch provides a possible answer: Americans lack confidence that the banks will be there on that rainy day.

    So, yanks: is this true?
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Member Member Crandar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Credit cards are stupid. I don't use them and you shouldn't use them, too. They just give you the illusion that you can afford to buy unnecessary stuff.

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Crandar View Post
    Credit cards are stupid. I don't use them and you shouldn't use them, too. They just give you the illusion that you can afford to buy unnecessary stuff.
    They have their use, especially with regards to travel. Paying with mastercard comes with free travel insurance and provides an additional layer of security. If someone scams my debit card, I have to wait quite a while to get it back. If someone scams my mastercard, it becomes mastercards problem. I will still have access to my own money while they sort out the situation.

    Of course, I repay it immediately, and don't spend any more than I would with a debit card.


    ....but this doesn't seem to be the situation in the US, where credit card use seems much more common. And that puzzles me. Does the link in the OP explain why that is?
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    ....Has always puzzled me. From what I've seen, credit, and not debit, cards looks like the norm in the US. I am completely unable to wrap my head around it. I too own a credit card, but I use it almost exclusively for travel abroad, where mastercard provides some nifty benefits. My debit card isn't very cheap to use abroad either, so the difference is quite small. The debt is repaid instantly upon return.

    The concept of keeping a credit card debt over time is truly alien to me. Now Marketwatch provides a possible answer: Americans lack confidence that the banks will be there on that rainy day.

    So, yanks: is this true?
    Only 22 of our 50 states require even one course of economics by High School in order to complete public education; only 17 states require personal finance to be taught -- and only 6 test specifically on it. As an aggregate, we are pretty malfing ignorant of things economic.

    So, people but things on credit and then service the debt without actually paying it off all too frequently -- or they declare bankruptcy and start over.

    And you wonder why yanks blithely assume we can both have a full social welfare safety net AND maintain our low personal taxation compared to Europeans.....ignorance.
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Only 22 of our 50 states require even one course of economics by High School in order to complete public education; only 17 states require personal finance to be taught -- and only 6 test specifically on it. As an aggregate, we are pretty malfing ignorant of things economic.

    So, people but things on credit and then service the debt without actually paying it off all too frequently -- or they declare bankruptcy and start over.

    And you wonder why yanks blithely assume we can both have a full social welfare safety net AND maintain our low personal taxation compared to Europeans.....ignorance.
    I was about to write "they are stupid", but instead I'll just sign what you wrote :)

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    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    They have their use, especially with regards to travel. Paying with mastercard comes with free travel insurance and provides an additional layer of security. If someone scams my debit card, I have to wait quite a while to get it back. If someone scams my mastercard, it becomes mastercards problem. I will still have access to my own money while they sort out the situation.
    This is the main benefit to credit cards over debit cards. A debit card is the key to your bank account, if hacked your money is gone, your bank will not help you get it back. I have been seriously considering replacing my debit card with a straight ATM card until the US at least gets chip-and-pin implemented.

    That said, carrying a balance on a Visa/MC card is insanity. I pay off my cards each month, they are used for convenience only. This makes my bank no money though, so I understand why the banks target young adults and others in high-risk situations. The usury on the balance combined with the high merchant fees is quite profitable.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Americans are cash poor and status heavy.
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    I myself have abstained from using a credit card (as an American), but I hear worrying things, namely that if the banks don't see evidence through credit history of my willingness to take on extensive debt and then pay it off reliably (but not too quick, of course, got to let that interest build), then they will be much-less willing to offer me large loans in the future, e.g. for home mortgages. As a consequence, I am frequently advised to get a credit account, use it regularly, and work a fine balance between paying debt off too quickly and too slowly. Sounds pretty lame, I have to say.

    Do any of you older fellas have some wisdom to share here?
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    I built credit on my car, and bills. Have a good score with no credit card

    That being said, I know nothing. Don't listen to me when it comes to fianance.
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I myself have abstained from using a credit card (as an American), but I hear worrying things, namely that if the banks don't see evidence through credit history of my willingness to take on extensive debt and then pay it off reliably (but not too quick, of course, got to let that interest build), then they will be much-less willing to offer me large loans in the future, e.g. for home mortgages. As a consequence, I am frequently advised to get a credit account, use it regularly, and work a fine balance between paying debt off too quickly and too slowly. Sounds pretty lame, I have to say.

    Do any of you older fellas have some wisdom to share here?
    Like Strike answers, you don't necessarily need to create loads of debt to enhance your credit. Your credit score is a product of your income and a demonstrated ability to pay back indebtedness on schedule with little in the way of late or missed payments. It does NOT have to be high interest consumer credit debt to build a good track record -- student loans, education loans, automobile loans etc. are good sources of credit increase.
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I myself have abstained from using a credit card (as an American), but I hear worrying things, namely that if the banks don't see evidence through credit history of my willingness to take on extensive debt and then pay it off reliably (but not too quick, of course, got to let that interest build), then they will be much-less willing to offer me large loans in the future, e.g. for home mortgages. As a consequence, I am frequently advised to get a credit account, use it regularly, and work a fine balance between paying debt off too quickly and too slowly. Sounds pretty lame, I have to say.

    Do any of you older fellas have some wisdom to share here?
    Tin foil hat mode on?

    Banks only care about if you have been able to keep a financial balance in your life.

    To barely be able to handle a credit card definitely does NOT make you a bank super star, when you want to borrow for a house.

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by drone View Post
    if hacked your money is gone, your bank will not help you get it back.
    Here, at least, the bank repays you unless you are to blame for the incident(ie. gross negligence). Still, that takes time, and in the meantime you will have to borrow money. Not a situation I want to be in, hence the mastercard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strike For The South View Post
    Americans are cash poor and status heavy.
    Thing is though, they do have the cash. They just prefer to keep it in their bank accounts instead of repaying their credit card debts.

    Which I find puzzling.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Part-Time Polemic Senior Member ICantSpellDawg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    I have never carried a balance or accrued any interest- I pay my card in full every month.

    The card allows me to never have to go to the bank
    To never have to worry about having it stolen (it is their money)
    To have a record of all of my transactions
    To dispute charges for bad products
    Allows me to build insane credit (0%apr car loan)
    To travel internationally without converting currency.
    And to make between 1-3% back in cash


    But, you are right. Americans are terrible and probably doing it wrong in general. Credit card debt is terrible and pointless.
    Last edited by ICantSpellDawg; 11-04-2014 at 13:03.
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Credit card transactions are insured here, whilst debit-card ones are not. But my credit card is set up to automatically be repaid from my debit account, so I do not pay any interest and if something critical happens, I have double the overdraft facility (cc and dc).
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Guys! Have as little to do with banks as you can help it. They will land you into a pickle one day. My father-in-law got a (gratuitous) credit card from a bank and was fool enough to activate it. He forgot about it and it was lying hid somewhere until he decided to close the account. Then he was informed that he owed the bank a certain sum of money for servicing the credit card though he never actually used it.
    About 10 years ago my University declared that salaries wouldn't be paid in cash anymore and made the whole staff clients of a bank that it picked. The bank issued the cards so that we could receive our salaries. To get a card one is asked irrelevant questions like how many kids you have or what is your wife's occupation and then one undergoes a humiliating procedure of picture taking where you are holding the card in front of you (which reminded me of the photos of criminals taken by the police). Then they demanded my mobile phone number and when I said I have none they said I couldn't use the card. So it appears that my having/not having some property is an issue which can ultimately decide whether I can get my salary.
    Conclusion: banks want to know every little thing about your personal life to get you by your balls just in case.
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    You're advocating the use of cash...?

    Only third world countries do that, and not even them anymore.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    I have a credit card that I barely use and that was always paid for automatically once a month, I have a debit card and I use cash for everyday sales, not least because that way I am more aware of how much money I actually spend on food etc.


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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Cash is cool. Have you ever seen Indiana Jones use a credit card? Well?

    I rest my case.

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    You're advocating the use of cash...?

    Only third world countries do that, and not even them anymore.
    It is not about countries but about personal preferences. And those new-fangled electronic things will have you end up with chips under your skin.
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarmatian View Post
    Cash is cool. Have you ever seen Indiana Jones use a credit card?
    Or Darth Vader?
    Quote Originally Posted by Suraknar View Post
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    It is not about countries but about personal preferences. And those new-fangled electronic things will have you end up with chips under your skin.
    Rubbish conspiracy crap should not hinder technological progress. The concept of physical currencies are nonsensical in this day and age, and an utter waste of resources. The faster we abandon physical currencies, the better it is.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    Or Darth Vader?
    Putin doesn't have a credit card?
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    Member Member Gilrandir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    The faster we abandon physical currencies, the better it is.
    Better for who? For banks? Then you are certainly right.
    As for chips, I heard that somewhere in France people could pay for groceries just pressing their finger to some device. Carry on, Jeeves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Putin doesn't have a credit card?
    He has a credit country.
    Quote Originally Posted by Suraknar View Post
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    Better for who? For banks? Then you are certainly right.
    For everyone. Less of the useless stuff means more of the good stuff.

    You are already paying the banks for the ability to pay in cash. You will pay less for paying with a card.

    And then we have stuff like robberies, black markets and crime in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    As for chips, I heard that somewhere in France people could pay for groceries just pressing their finger to some device. Carry on, Jeeves.
    Still future tech, AFAIK. Unfortunately.

    Still, paying by pressing your phone on a tablet is just a couple of years away, and that's a big enough improvement over the current stone age technology.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Member Member Gilrandir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    For everyone. Less of the useless stuff means more of the good stuff.
    In Ukraine a lot of foodstuffs as well as clothes are bought at the markets from kerchiefed babushkas where credit cards are useless stuff and cash is useful. So utility depends on where you are going to utilize the thing in question.
    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    And then we have stuff like robberies, black markets and crime in general.
    Among the latter are credit card frauds and all kinds of crimes with electronic money.


    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Still, paying by pressing your phone on a tablet is just a couple of years away.
    Don't have neither the former nor the latter and don't feel any worse. As in one parody movie a sign on a bar said: "No air conditioning and proud of it". While those up the line in a supermarket who pay with a card tend to do it longer then those with cash.
    Quote Originally Posted by Suraknar View Post
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    In Ukraine a lot of foodstuffs as well as clothes are bought at the markets from kerchiefed babushkas where credit cards are useless stuff and cash is useful. So utility depends on where you are going to utilize the thing in question.
    Unless you're talking about a black market operation, these places will have no problems adjusting to a paperfree economy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    Among the latter are credit card frauds and all kinds of crimes with electronic money.
    They are still calculated by the insurance companies to be less expensive than the current crimes. Secondly, the banks will guarantee the loss in these cases, not the individual(as they already do, by the way). Thirdly, and most importantly, hacking crimes do not carry with it the threat of physical damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilrandir View Post
    Don't have neither the former nor the latter and don't feel any worse. As in one parody movie a sign on a bar said: "No air conditioning and proud of it". While those up the line in a supermarket who pay with a card tend to do it longer then those with cash.
    Feel free to live under a stone if you wish.

    The rest of us, however, want more efficiency, reduced costs and generally less hassle.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    For everyone. Less of the useless stuff means more of the good stuff.
    As I said, I find that handing over a piece of paper with a number on it is more symbolic for my monkey mind and helps me spend less money. Banks know that and that is why they promote the use of electronic methods. I use my debit card for bigger purchases, but for everyday stuff like buying groceries I use cash. Not to forget that some stores here also don't allow card payments under a sum of 5 or 10€ because the fees for the electronic transaction are higher than their profit then or something like that.

    I'm not against having more payment options if one likes to use them, but I also actually prefer to use physical money for small payments.

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    The rest of us, however, want more efficiency, reduced costs and generally less hassle.
    Some of the worst hassles I had working at a fuel station came from cards that didn't work or internet outages, which meant 80% of cards didn't work... And customers weren't pleased either.
    Not to forget that there is at least one store where the card reader does not accept my debit card. Hassle-free is something else.
    Last edited by Husar; 11-04-2014 at 21:34.


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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    As I said, I find that handing over a piece of paper with a number on it is more symbolic for my monkey mind and helps me spend less money.
    I used to do that too when I was younger.

    Then I started using that thingy inside my cranium, and it worked fine. I check my bank account a couple of times a month to pay bills and make sure all the electronic payments are correct, yet I always know how much is in my account, give or take a couple of hundred(NOK).

    Also, this will become a non-issue once you get used to the new system. Or are you still calculating prices in marks?

    The problem isn't so much that you want more options, the problem is that giving you that option puts those who have to handle your cash in completely needless peril. You're also fueling the black market.
    Last edited by HoreTore; 11-04-2014 at 21:36.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    Cash should always be an option. It doesn't take a tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist to see the problem with a society where you can't handle and secure your own money without the assistance of automated and vulnerable systems you have no real control over. The option to put the money in your mattress should always exist.
    I hear there's a tinfoil-sale over at CostCo. Run, GC, run!

    You can't secure our current money anyway. See: hyperinflation. Your point is moot.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Why Americans do not pay off credit card debts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    Malarkey! You can take it out of the system and put it in a place where nobody else can touch it. The value of it may change, but its yours in fact and in principle. If you can never touch and take your money like that, then its no longer money. Its credit. You may be fine with that, but I wouldn't be.
    How is this different from buying and storing toilet paper in your mattress, then?

    Credit is different, by the way. Money, whether physical not, is a representation of work performed, while credit is a representation of work expected.

    Further, actually taking money, physical or not, out of circulation actually hurts the economy. Many times more if you choose to return it to circulation at a later date.
    Last edited by HoreTore; 11-04-2014 at 21:54.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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