15 Situations to Sideline Your Credit Card

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Credit cards offer many benefits—rewards programs, building credit history, and convenient online shopping—but should be used strategically. To avoid racking up debt, hurting your credit score, or simply wasting money, here are 15 situations where you should use your debit card, cash, or another method instead.

Can’t Afford the Price


Credit cards are like taking out a short-term loan. If you can’t repay the loan (your balance) in full when due, you’ll be charged interest, which can be very high. This can quickly turn a small purchase into an enormous financial burden.

Nearing Your Credit Limit


Your credit limit is the height of what you can borrow on your credit card. Maxing out your credit cards can hurt your credit score in two ways. Firstly, it shows creditors that you’re using a lot of available credit, which is risky. Secondly, it can lower your debt-to-income ratio.

Emotional Shopping Spree

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Your judgement can be clouded when you’re feeling emotional—stressed, sad, or excited. This can lead to impulse purchases that you might regret later, especially if you use a credit card and rack up debt.

No Budget

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A budget is a plan for your money. It helps you track your income and expenses to know what you can afford. Without a budget, it’s easy to lose track of your spending and overshoot your limits, especially with the ease of swiping a credit card.

Recurring Bills


Unless your credit card offers rewards for paying recurring bills, it’s generally not a good idea to use it. This is because you’re accumulating interest on a bill you could have paid upfront with a debit card or automatic bank transfer.

Cash Advance Fee

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A cash advance is when you take out cash using your credit card. This is typically a bad idea because they come with a much higher rate and often come with an additional fee.

Untrustworthy Merchant

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If you’re shopping online at a store you’re not familiar with, it’s safer to use a service such as PayPal. This way, you will have nothing to lose as they cannot access your financial information.

Non-refundable Purchase


When you’re unsure about a purchase, like a non-refundable one, doing it with a credit card can be risky. If you need to return the item, you’ll be left with a credit card bill you can’t get reimbursed for.

Paying for Gas

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Some gas stations place a hold on your credit card for more than the amount you pump. This can tie up your available credit for a few days, which can be inconvenient.


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Gambling can be exciting, but you can lose track of what you’ll spend, especially if you’re using a credit card. Sticking to notes when gambling is best to stay aware of your spending limits.

Paying Taxes

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The IRS (US Internal Revenue Service) charges a processing fee for remitting taxes by credit card. This fee can be a large percentage of your tax bill, so it’s generally cheaper to pay by electronic funds transfer or check.

Monthly Subscriptions

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Monthly subscriptions for services, e.g., streaming or music, can be convenient, but they can also add up over time. If you have them set to autopay on your credit card, it’s easy to forget about them and end up being charged for services you’re not even utilising.

Large Down Payments

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Putting a sizeable down deposit on a car or appliance with a credit card might seem tempting to rack up rewards points, but resist! The interest you’ll pay on such a large balance will likely outweigh any benefit.

Financing a Vacation

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Vacations should be relaxing and enjoyable. Don’t add to your stress by financing your entire trip on a credit card. Use bank notes or debit for everyday expenses while on vacation, and consider saving up in advance for flights, hotels, and larger costs.

Minor Expenses

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For small, everyday purchases such as your morning coffee, other methods can help you stay more mindful of how you spend. Swiping your credit card for small amounts can make you less conscious of how much you’re spending throughout the day.

Written by grayson