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Should you cancel your credit cards?

cut up credit cards


When we paid off our credit card debt in 2012, we were elated. Paying off $70,000 was a major accomplishment for us. But we kept the cards.

What if there was a major emergency? How would we pay for it?

Then we got into the rewards trap. I loved my rewards card. We were paying it off every month and I was getting cash back. I used it for my business and felt like I was making money! We used the card more and more, justifying the use because we would get rewards. We put just about everything on the card and paid it off at the end of every month.

Until we didn’t. Almost one year to the day that we paid off our credit cards, we couldn’t pay the bill in full. I was crushed. We vowed to never get into credit card debt again but we did. After I paid as much as we could, there were only a few hundred dollars that we couldn’t pay off but it might as well have been $20,000.

That month we got back on a written budget after taking a year off. We stopped using the cards but we didn’t cancel them. In November 2013, I sent my husband a text message, “I’m canceling the card cards.” I thought he would object but he thought it was a good idea. He cancelled his cards as well.

It’s been five months and we have not regretted the decision. It has made our lives easier. No more mail from the credit card companies. No more special offers to tempt us to use the cards.

Some people think you must have a credit card, but I would argue that I can do anything with a debit card that you can do with a credit card. When we travel, we pay for the trip in advance, using a debit card. I can rent a car or a hotel room with a debit card. Yes, they will put a temporary hold on my account, but if I am so broke that I can’t afford the temporary hold, we shouldn’t be traveling. What if there is an emergency? That’s why we have an emergency fund.

We have switched our mindset. Our goal is to become payment free. Our goal is to pay for things with money we have saved. Cancelling our credit cards is probably one of the most important things we have done to work toward that goal.

When you think about canceling your credit cards, what comes to mind? What would you need to do to be comfortable without credit cards?

2 Responses to Should you cancel your credit cards?

  • Camilla says:

    I only keep two cards, plan ahead for purchases and always pay them off each month. I use cash for a lot of things but will never cancel my credit cards. Why? Because the protection isn’t the same as a debit card. I hear people claim a debit card will do the same thing all the time but if you really dig into the fine print you don’t always have the same coverage. My debit card will not cover insurance on a car rental, it will not double the warranty on items I buy, it will not cover a fraction of the things my credit card will cover. Also, when you use a credit card and there are fraudulent charges you have a billing cycle to catch that. For a debit card, some institutions require you to report that within 5 days of it happening. How many look at their checking account every couple of days?
    Camilla recently posted…Why We Need to Write Our Own EulogyMy Profile

    • Kristin says:

      My debit card offers the same fraud protections as a credit card. My bank also contacts me when it believes there might be a fraudulent charge. I have gotten text messages and calls a number of times when traveling to ensure the charges are in fact my charges. I log into my account once or twice a week and have never had an issue with fraud on my card. My bank will also immediately restore the funds in your account and reverse any charges due to fraud.

      My auto insurance covers rentals as part of the policy. In all the years I had credit cards, I never used the warranty coverage provided by the card.

      Studies also show that people who use credit cards on average spend 12-18% more than those who use cash or debit cards.

      There are people, like yourself, who use credit cards responsibly, but the vast majority of people do not. For us, the risk of having credit cards out weighs the benefits.

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