Get a life, get a cheaper credit card
Sunday 27 December 1998
I should now solemnly repeat the personal finance editor's mantra: "Do not run up a credit card bill you can't pay off at the end of the month."
Call me reckless, but I think that's joyless crap. Obviously it's better to pay off the whole bill every month, but only half of us ever do that. Credit cards are extremely useful for short-term loans, especially at this cash-strapped time of year.
You can even justify the extravagance because using a credit card sensibly looks good on your credit record. It proves you can manage debt (mortgage lenders love to see this). As long as you are making payments on time, and paying off a significant chunk of debt each month, then you are OK.
The big caveat is that you must borrow on a cheap card. If you are one of the sad majority still carrying plastic from a traditional high street bank then you are throwing your cash away on ludicrously high interest payments, not to mention a pounds 10 or pounds 12 annual fee.
So what's keeping you from making a New Year's Resolution to swap to a cheaper credit card? Choose from this bumper selection box of excuses:
"I can't be bothered." No answer to this; you and your bank probably deserve each other.
"My bank will be angry if I swap to another card." Hello, this is the 1990s calling ... The credit card operation is run as a separate business. (And anyway, what could the bank possibly do to you?)
"I am saving up my Barclaycard Profile points." Fine. If you want to pay pounds 12,250 for a Sony Walkman. Otherwise, get a card with a decent perks scheme. Alliance & Leicester is about to launch a Gold MoneyBack card which pays you up to pounds 4 back for every pounds 100 you spend. (Minimum income pounds 20,000, call 0500 838383 for details).
"I don't want a card from a bank I have never heard of before." Why? The credit card people are lending you money rather than the other way round. If the bank goes bust, you will lose nothing. And all credit cards (except American Express credit cards) are branded as Visa or Mastercard. That's all that matters. It means you can use the card anywhere displaying the Visa/Mastercard logo.
Most of the unfamiliar names offering credit cards are American banks. Two of them are offering an APR of 6.9 per cent until next July. So if you have a large balance hanging around on your credit card account, stop being picky and move it to Capital One (0800 952 5252) or RBS Advanta (0800 077770).
Incidentally, Capital One is an enormous American firm; and RBS Advanta is now owned by the good old Royal Bank of Scotland. Is that familiar enough for you ?
- 1 Bruce Jenner's 'Interview of the year': Suicidal thoughts, rejection by family members and new wardrobe
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
- 4 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 5 Buckingham Palace guard who attacked passers-by in 'most most violent piece of CCTV footage' police officer had seen walks free
Top 20 misconceptions people believe are true
Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...
£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...