More than 75% of Americans own at least one credit card. True, credit cards are a convenient way to pay without carrying cash. They can also offer a way to pay for larger purchases you may otherwise not be able to afford while building your credit history. However, it's essential to understand the real cost.
It's tempting to pay the minimum amount due. Let's say you made a $2500 purchase and a $50 per month payment sounds enticing. If you were to make minimum payments, it would take an astonishing 333 months to pay off. Interest builds so quickly that you are no longer paying off the the original purchase. Now your credit score is negatively impacted.
The real cost of using credit increases substantially when factoring in annual fees, cash advance, foreign transaction, late payment, over the limit and balance transfer fees.
There's nothing wrong with having a credit card for an immediate emergency. If a long-term financial situation occurs, it will be cheaper to take out a personal loan due to interest rates alone. It can actually be free to use credit if you pay your bill in full each month and only use cards that do not charge an annual fee. Make smart decisions about spending to avoid getting yourself in overwhelming credit card debt.