37 answers

How Do You Live Without a Credit Card?

I was just reading over a question about whether or not to close down some credit card accounts and I'm amazed at how many people have ZERO credit cards. This is just a curiosity question - how do you live without a credit card? There are some things I do that I thought "required" a card - renting a car, booking an airline ticket online (or buying almost anything online for that matter), renting a hotel room, etc. I don't know if I'll ever be credit card free, but for those who are, I am truly curious.

Just an aside - I have never revolved a credit card in my entire life, it is paid off every single month. I use my cards like cash. If I don't CURRENTLY have the cash in the bank to pay for a purchase, then I don't make the purchase. BUT, I think I might spend less without a card. Maybe stop buying those unnecessary items at Target, for example!

Anyway, for those with ZERO cards, do you really mean zero? Or is there a card in the freezer just in case?!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Jo - if the card has fraud protection that'll keep people from getting their bank accounts cleaned out by a thief? Also, don't a lot of vendors charge a fee when you use debit instead of credit? I would think that's the downside.

Nikki G - I don't use cash because if I'm going to the grocery store ($130), then Costco ($200), then Target ($100) I don't want to carry that much cash in my wallet. Plus the inconvenience of having to stop one more place, the ATM. Of course, I don't spend THAT much each time I run errands, but you get the idea. Do you go to the ATM maybe once a week? And get all the cash you'll need? I figure that's one way to do it. Still doesn't take care of having hundreds of dollars in my wallet when I have one of my big trips. Anyway, that's the "why" to my madness.

Thank you for all of the responses! I like to read (and learn!) about how people do things. Sometimes I find things that others do that may work for me. I guess I'm in the minority here though. I'll probably continue to use my credit cards, mostly for the convenience of it and for all the rewards. If you use a card responsibly then you can get lots of free stuff. I have a Upromise card that gives me 1% of all my purchases towards my kids' 529 plans. So far they've given me over $500. Not a ton of money, but hey, it'll cover a few books, right? And I have enough points on another card to get my daughter either a Kindle Fire, or an iPod touch for her birthday - for free. The one reason I'd consider not using credit is I know I do buy a few little "extra" things when I am at the store. I know if I used cash I would cut down on that. But, it's not out of control and it's nothing I can't afford anyway. We'll see. Maybe I'll try it sometime. I need to do an experiment - which amount is greater: 1) my credit card rewards or 2) the amount of money I save since I'm not buying crap I don't really need. That would be interesting to see! Thanks guys :)

Featured Answers

It's easy. You don't NEED a credit card to live. You need money to live. Debit cards act as credit cards nowadays, so it's perfectly easy to live without a credit card. Prepaid cards can act as credit cards, as well.

I just don't like the idea of owing anybody anything, ever, even if the plan is to pay it of asap. I also think once you'd made bad decisions with credit cards it's a lot easier to cut them off & work off of cash. It's amazingly easy to live without credit cards, actually.

4 moms found this helpful

You can use debit cards for those required things, we pay for airline tickets. book hotel rooms and such and so long as the debit card is through the bank with teh VISA, MC... logo, than it is used exactly the same as a credit card.

I haven't had a credit card in about 15 years... my husband has NEVER had one.

4 moms found this helpful

Nope. Not a one anywhere. We go in the door of the hotel and rent a room and pay cash. We don't rent a care, we have a car already.

We don't get to have some things, like you buy online, but we don't have a bill hanging overhead either.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

ETA: No, there is no fee to use a debit card. Debit cards have rewards too, same if not better than credit cards. No, I don't carry that much cash, I use my debit card, same as cash. So I don't see the need for credit cards. Also, I have never had a "hold" on my account from the use of a debit card. That is an outdated practice. And, because my debit card has the VISA logo, it is protected from fraudulent activity by visa, and my bank has fraudulent charges protection as well.

If you don't buy anything on a card you don't have cash for, then why not use cash? If you pay your balances every month, then why not use cash? You can rent a car, book a hotel, and all of that with a debit card.

I have zero credit cards and I never intend to have any.

8 moms found this helpful

Nowadays debit cards that come straight from your checking account will suffice for hotel reservations, car rentals, etc. It's pretty freeing to have no credit cards, to tell you the truth! Requires building up a savings, something that Americans forgot how to do for the most part ...

5 moms found this helpful

I really truly mean Zero.

I will never ever ever have one again.

They are Toxic and make you live artificially.

If I needed to rent a car I would go get a preloaded card or something that I pay cash fro in the first place.

You also can use your debit card like a CC in alot of those situations.

I would still only use a preloaded card. I dont like even using my Debit card honestly.

Cash for everything.

5 moms found this helpful

We have no credit card but do have a debit card with a credit card logo that enables us to do just about everything you can with a credit card. This is how we keep ourselves from overspending and if we don't have the cash it isn't getting bought, reserved, or otherwise paid for.

4 moms found this helpful

I use my debit card for those things that require a card - it's accepted pretty much everywhere now, it's a "Visa", but the $ come out of the bank. If I have a concern, I can select a "credit card' option when I make a purchase (so I can dispute it) but the $ still come out of the bank.

I have no credit cards. I have learned that I lack the discipline to have one; so I don't.

ETA: Just read your other replies. So - "what they said" works here too. : )

4 moms found this helpful

I use my debit card where you would normally use credit (online purchases, car rentals). Go Dave Ramsey! We just paid off our student loan and are working on building up a 6 month cushion savings. Once that's done we'll refinance to a 15-year fixed mortgage. But if you pay your card off every month, I don't see the danger. You can get the perks that go along with the card, without the interest payments. But you're right--you spend more that way. It's just human nature.

4 moms found this helpful

I really dont have any. I'm 32 and if i dont have the money in the bank or cash i dont need it. I use my debit card for online purchases. Works just fine.
Oh and my credit score was 768 too, which i really good considering i dont use credit cards.

4 moms found this helpful

You can use debit cards for those required things, we pay for airline tickets. book hotel rooms and such and so long as the debit card is through the bank with teh VISA, MC... logo, than it is used exactly the same as a credit card.

I haven't had a credit card in about 15 years... my husband has NEVER had one.

4 moms found this helpful

The only credit card that I have is my bank ATM card that has a Mastercard logo on it. It can be used anywhere a major credit card is used, but is attached to my checking account so I can't spend money I don't have. I can, however, use it to rent a car, pay for hotels or anything else that requires a major credit card.

I paid off my credit card debt 18 months ago and it does feel good not to have that hanging around my neck. I hope to never have to get into credit card debt again!

4 moms found this helpful

It's easy. You don't NEED a credit card to live. You need money to live. Debit cards act as credit cards nowadays, so it's perfectly easy to live without a credit card. Prepaid cards can act as credit cards, as well.

I just don't like the idea of owing anybody anything, ever, even if the plan is to pay it of asap. I also think once you'd made bad decisions with credit cards it's a lot easier to cut them off & work off of cash. It's amazingly easy to live without credit cards, actually.

4 moms found this helpful

As long as you have a debit/visa or debit/MC there's no issue.
You can out through those cards AS a credit card.

You may be the rare exception that pays off the balances every month. But you do know that you spend more when paying with credit, right?

3 moms found this helpful

Neither my husband nor I have an actual credit card, not even in the freezer. We rent cars, buy airline tickets and shop online and...gasp...we pay cash!

We do this using our debit card and swipe it as credit (instead of debit), it isn't borrowing money from the credit card company and paying it back later, its using the money we have available in our bank account. If we don't have money in our account then we don't buy anything.

We literally have no debt except for our mini van.

3 moms found this helpful

Zero credit cards here for 25 years. Some of the rental car places ,if you call ahead will let you rent just with the debit.

Otherwise, I use only the debit or cash .

Yes, you can purchase on line plane tickets anything on a debit card.

For online purchases, I have a separate debit card account. I place money in there based on what I am going to purchase online.

And no my bank does not charge a fee for the debit card, if I keep a good balance in the account.

The only debt we have right now is on a car. But we got the loan through our credit union and even then we are paying it off faster by paying double some months.

House was paid off years ago.started paying double and boy it went by fast.

3 moms found this helpful

There are some purchases that just aren't that safe with a debit card. We DO have fraud protection on the debit cards, but banks will only do so much. We do have a credit card, that we use for certain things. Restaurants, rentals, internet purchases. We NEVER carry a balance. We purchase with the card, and immediately pay off the credit card right then. Also, we use the credit card on home repairs and large purchases, because our bank is really funny about big purchases. We just don't want to have to deal with their calls to make sure it's all OK. (Although, we appreciate that they do that.) We also get really great points on our credit card, when we do that. We paid for our entire family's Christmas last year, with amazon gift cards off points we earned from a new AC unit. We needed the unit, and we could pay for Christmas...why not? Again, we immediately pay the credit card, so we are never carrying an amount for more then a few minutes. As far as normal every day, I just use the debit card or cash. We don't pay any interest when we pay it off that fast. Our card is one, where if you don't go more then a month you don't accumulate interest on the purchase.

Credit cards are only bad, if you use them improperly. We have used credit to our advantage many, many times. We are smart about it. We never carry debt. We have specific reasons we use them, and it has always worked to our advantage,

3 moms found this helpful

we have ZERO cards. We have a lot of debt that we are paying off including student loans with 1 credit card, but we can not use it. The account is frozen and once we pay it off the bank will close it out. It's in my husbands name and he has terrible credit. I have great credit, but since I do not have a job, I can't get approved for a card (tried last year). So, we do not have a card that we can use.
I have booked flights with my debit/credit card (debit card with visa logo on it). I have also rented cars with it. No problems at all. The rental car company had me do a $200 hold on my account BUT they never charged it and the hold was released once I returned the car.
We have also rented hotel rooms with out a credit card. You don't NEED a credit card to do those things. I also buy stuff online too with out one.
So, we do not even have 1 credit card and we don't ever plan on getting one.

3 moms found this helpful

My husband and I haven't had a credit card for 7 years now. We DO have debit cards issued by legitimate banks with the VISA logo on them. Whenever we need to rent a car or anything, a hold is put on our account for several hundred dollars, which shouldn't be a problem if you have the money to travel and rent cars in the first place without charging it all on a credit card.

Unfortunately in our country, if you DON'T have a credit card for years, it actually damages your credit, so recently my husband did get a card with a $500 limit and it's in some drawer somewhere. The idea is to use it every few months, pay it in full and forget about it.

I love living without credit cards! If I see something I just MUST have and I can't afford it -oh well -I have to deal with that. It's made me a much better saver and far more in tune with what's really important in the world. It's also so liberating to know that if worse came to worse and we suddenly had no income, that while we would have to come up with mortgage, one car payment and utilities/food, we wouldn't have a bunch of monthly payments to credit cards staring us in the face.

3 moms found this helpful

I heard on a financial show recently that even if you use a debit card with the credit card option it does not afford you the same protection as an actual credit card transaction. To be safe, you should read the debit card policy from your bank, even if your debit card is Visa or MC.

3 moms found this helpful

Nope. Not a one anywhere. We go in the door of the hotel and rent a room and pay cash. We don't rent a care, we have a car already.

We don't get to have some things, like you buy online, but we don't have a bill hanging overhead either.

3 moms found this helpful

I do not have a credit card - if I don't have the money for something, I don't buy it. Except the house and the car - those are financed.

I do have a debit card from my bank which will function almost like a credit card - I can use it for online purchases, hotels, and renting vehicles, etc. but I have to have the money to cover those items in the account.

I really don't think about it. I have had very low limit credit cards before and just didn't like the idea that I could spend money that I really did not have. Also, I have friends with 10 of thousands in credit card debt that they will never get out from under and that is a concept that boggles my mind. I don't like the debt that I have from the house and the car. LOL But find amassing the cash for those was going to be forever beyond my reach.

So nope, no emergency card in the freezer. :)

3 moms found this helpful

I use a debit card for all of that. Most debit cards do have fraud protection. I have heard a few don't but every one I have ever had does.

We have an open credit card that we use once a year just to keep it active but pretty much everything is done with a debit card.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm like you I use my Discover Card for everything and pay it off each month. I earn cashback bonus on things I buy and then credit that to my bill. I'm sure I could live without any credit cards but it's convenient for me.

Nikki - I really don't want to be carrying around 200-300 a week for gas & groceries and make a special trip to the bank to get the money. Both my husband and I have direct deposit and pay our bills online. Just more convenient.

2 moms found this helpful

Most places online with also let you run an electronic check. In fact most places in general will. Or you can use a debit card with a credit card logo. My husband and I have no credit cards and can't have them because we are under a bankruptcy. It helps us stick to a budget too.

2 moms found this helpful

I live much better without credit! My husband and I fell into a trap of using them, then needing to use them, then not having any money to pay them back. We've been credit-free for 6 years and have no problem living our lives without them. To avoid any "possible" debit card fees, we simply choose the credit option after we swipe our debit card. It just means they'll take a few days to take the money versus right away. From my understanding my debit card, which is a VISA has the same protection that a VISA credit card does. Gotta read the small print :)

2 moms found this helpful

I couldn't imagine not having my credit cards. They are paid off every month, but the rewards they give us are great! Hubby bought a fabulous flat screen TV with rewards he saved up, and I buy the kids tons of toys and books! I consider myself a cash household, but we use credit for almost everything.

Also, if someone rips us off, it's free and easy to do a "stop payment" with a credit card. The credit card has saved us a few times from being ripped off!

2 moms found this helpful

I wouldn't be without, have several credit cards, but no debit card. When I charge, pay off at end of month, pay no interest, use "rewards". The key is SELF CONTROL!! Don't buy what you can't pay for.

2 moms found this helpful

The ONLY place I've run into a hangup (aside from not having a line of credit), is renting a car. Without a creditcard they put a hold on $400 above and beyond the rental fees. Those take about a week to clear. So if I'm spending $35 renting a car (I've been doing a lot of $20 weekend specials this year since I've had no car, and then it's actually $35 after taxes and fees and extra insurance), I actually need $435 in the bank.

But, no. No cards.

I/we had well over 100k in available credit, and my highest rate was 8%.... 5 years ago. (we had 6 cards; his/ mine/ his school/ my school/ emergencies/ & 0% as long as we used it $50 a month).

4 years ago... Bought my/our house (20% down), and my/our credit score dropped (weird, right? But apparently normal). ANYHOW, because of the drop at least one of the cards lowered my limit below my balance, and charged me 10k in fines. I say at least one, because it was a CRAZY month. By the end of the month universal default EACH card lowered our limit below our balances, and we had 10's of thousands in fines. And our interest rate jumped to 29.99%

In 3 months time, we had over $70,000 worth of debt in money we. never. spent.

Yeah... we were in THAT group of people. The group that got screwed before the laws were put in place to keep that kind of stuff from happening.

Filed for CH13, the courts brought our debt down to what we actually owed before the CC companies got stupid, and I will not willingly have a credit card ever again. I do not trust them. We had near perfect credit (my husband was only 10 points off from perfect, I was 50 points off), never made a late payment, never missed a payment, did everything "right" and got screwed 6 ways from sunday.

Do I occasionally WISH for a card? Durn straight. I've been wearing the same daily disposable contacts for 15months straight (because I need a new Rx time wise -my actualy Rx is probably the same- and the $300 for the appointment and $120 for the contacts is beyond me). I have 12k in lawyers fees to figure out in 5 days. When my dog got sick, I couldn't take him to the vet, and I had to use a cooler instead of a fridge for a week.

$70,000 in debt in 3 months without spending a dime. A bankruptcy on my record. I got SHAFTED by credit card companies a few years ago.

2 moms found this helpful

We have zero cards. The only cards we have are our bank/atm cards. U can rent cars/hotels with atm cards but sometimes u have to give a bigger deposit. Almost any online store takes ur atm card.

Updated

We have zero cards. The only cards we have are our bank/atm cards. U can rent cars/hotels with atm cards but sometimes u have to give a bigger deposit. Almost any online store takes ur atm card.

2 moms found this helpful

I genuinely do not have a credit card. I do have a debit card & no, I've never received an extra charge of any kind for using that instead of a credit card. It does have a MasterCard logo on it so is accepted everywhere that I've ever come across.

I mostly use cash & find that works best for our family. We make 1 big withdrawl every 2 weeks when we get paid & leave some money in the account to transfer to the debit card when/if we need to (some things are easier to use debit for such as getting gas so I don't have to go into the store in the rain, etc.). I do not carry all of the cash on me at one time. We keep it in an envelope on the hutch & take what we need when we need it. It has cut down on our joint account being overdrawn & getting hit with exceptionally high overdraft fees when we don't communicate well with each other about what we're buying/paying for. We can clearly see how much money we've got & it has helped tremendously with our spending habits.

No, it's not the most convenient way of doing things, physically going to each place once a month to pay bills (Verizon Wireless, electric company, etc.) but it works for us.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm with you K. - so I'm actually responding to several other posters.

I pay with cards because of the rewards. Hubs & I are flying to FL free this summer from mileage rewards. Cards are paid off monthly, no revolving balance.

FYI - if you use a debit card at a hotel they can freeze the total anticipated amount for a couple weeks after you check out, which can wreak havoc with your checking account if you're not careful.

2 moms found this helpful

I am like you. I have one that we use for convenience (not just to buy without thinking, but to avoid carrying around a lot of cash or making ATM trips with every trip) and pay it off every month. I use it for online purchases, or hotels, that sort of thing. Oh, and I use it for Christmas purchases. We have a budget for Christmas, and all the receipts for Christmas purchases get kept together until the gifts are opened. Makes it easy for returns if necessary, and to keep a running balance on how much we have left in the Christmas fund/budget. When the bill comes in January (or the end of December) I send in the full amount--even if the transactions haven't all hit yet.

In order to spend cash only (think Dave Ramsey) I'd have to withdraw around $1200-$1400 every other week in cash. I don't like having that on my person. Neither does my husband. And I have a limit to how much I can withdraw in 24 hours, so it means several trips to the ATM withdrawing large sums... which can just be dangerous. Why expose myself that way, ya know?

So, I use debit cards a lot. Not for everything, but a lot. And no, I don't think the vendors have to pay anything extra unless you run the debit card AS a credit card, in which case (all credit cards) there IS a charge to them.

Debit cards can have fraud protection, but the difference (I think) is that it can take a while to get the $$ put back. If it is withdrawn, it is not in your account. Yeah, they CAN replace it when they determine it is fraud, but it doesn't happen immediately and in the meantime, you are out the cash. So there is that risk that doesn't really exist with a credit card. But our credit union has been very good about this, and called us right away whenever they have detected unusual activity. We no longer have the same account number on our cards, so that if one has to be cancelled due to fraud, the other person's card is not also deactivated, and we can still access our funds from an ATM or using debit card purchases.

2 moms found this helpful

We don't have credit cards. Just debit.

1 mom found this helpful

Interesting question and interesting answers.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of credit cards and refuse to use a debit card. Credit cards save me hundreds of $$$ each year. Debit cards are just too much work, making sure I have enough in the bank, taking into account the holds for gas, restaurants, hotels.

I know if I had to I could live without a credit card.

1 mom found this helpful

The ONLY thing we've ever had trouble paying with our Visa debit card is renting a car. Enterprise will let you rent with cash/debit cards with a deposit of $250 and copies of two paid bills, so that solved that problem. I've booked hotel rooms and everything with my debit card and never had any trouble. I've never been charged extra for using it.

Why don't we have one? Because we don't use them appropriately, so it's just better if we don't have one at all.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any credit cards. I also don't write checks.
I use my debit (visa logo on it) everywhere. I've never had any problems renting a hotel or a car, or buying airline tickets, or purchasing anything on-line. Some transactions are marked as "pending" for awhile, but my bank automatically deducts that amount even when it's pending. So my account is always correct. I have my banks app on my smart phone to quick check my account, so it's not really a big deal for me to check it.
In regards to the vendor charging a fee statement. I have never been charged a fee by a major retailer (including restaurants) for using credit. The place I come in contact with that does is gas stations, but in that scenerio I just use my debit and there is no fee (except Arco, they charge a fee for just using a card period). Other places that will charge you a fee are casino's, hospitals, airport terminals and banks other then where your card is issued.
The only time I have cash on me is when I have to pay three bills monthly and they don't accept debit cards, in person, online paying with a debit/credit card you are charged a processing fee. To avoid the processing fee I pay in person and since I don't write checks I stop at the ATM.
So that's how I do it. Really though, I just have never done it any other way. It's not like I had a credit card and over spent, or had one and racked up the balance and now I don't want one. I just never wanted one, had my debit and it was easy to do everything with that.
So I say to each their own, whatever works for you. =)

1 mom found this helpful

I have one thru my bank...but that is it...and it has no balance. I do online shopping or what you described like airline tickets....etc. but pay off before that 30 days is up. But I truly understand those that have to have one....but mone than one for emergencies....or to help you get thru the month is enough...but who am I to say so....making a living nowadays is rough.

1 mom found this helpful

If your check card has a credit card logo (visa, mastercard whatever) you can use it AS a credit card on your purchases. So you can use it to rent a car, hold a hotel room etc., and if vendors charge for debit, you can just run it as credit and sign for it instead of using your pin number.

I do use a credit card (just one) for EVERY purchase and then pay it off every month. I prefer it to debit because I earn points which I like to use, but like you I don't revolve a balance. Also, there are some expenses I pay from my personal account and some household expenses that are paid from the joint account with my partner. It's easier to just go through the bill and make the payments each month from each account, than to fumble around with two cards in the store remembering which is which when I'm tired and have a cranky kid.

1 mom found this helpful

We have a debit card and a credit card, but rarely if ever use the credit card. The credit card comes in handy when our debit card gets shut off for fraud alert and we have to call in and verify charges, and if they're not from us, we have to wait until we get a new card - happens a lot since we have life lock or something on it...

We primarly use the CC as a way to handle certain larger payments that we'd prefer to pay off over the course of a few months (new couch will probably end up on the CC). But the CC is always well taken care of, hubby is good with the finances!

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