title:Credit Cards author:Sara Chambers source_url:http://www.articlecity.com/articles/business_and_finance/article_5826.shtml date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:07 category:business_and_finance article:

In the hands of the right consumer, a credit card can be a very useful tool. Unfortunately, the ?right? consumer is rare. The concept of buying on credit, while convenient, actually serves only to line the pockets of financial gurus with millions of dollars each year in finance charges and interest dollars.
What is it about plastic that is so appealing? It?s easy for one thing. Instant gratification is the driving force behind the appeal of plastic. In fact, it?s unusual for most consumers to have real money in their purses or wallets, even the bank provides plastic in the form of debit cards. So now checkbooks seem primitive.
In the last decade Americans have fallen further and further into debt, thanks to the ubiquitous plastic. In fact, the United States government is world renowned for its deepening national debt. Most financial experts agree that credit cards are one of the worst financial ideas ever, leading most consumers into debt well beyond the point of any return.
Credit Card Companies
Leading the march to heavy debt are the credit card companies that spend billions of dollars each year marketing their wares to the American consumer. Especially dangerous are those spenders who are borderline credit-worthy, or who possess no credit whatsoever. These consumers, financial experts argue, are the easiest prey for credit card companies. Everyone wants what the Joneses have, even those with little money to pay upfront. Many consumers are duped into credit card accounts that come bundled with exorbitant interest rates, rates that realistically make it impossible to repay purchases without essentially paying for them many times over.
Experts suggest that all consumers read the fine print included in the offers that come in the mail. Most card offers are financial suicide, at best and should be avoided. For those consumers with poor credit history there are options and counseling available free of charge at most banks.
Building Credit
The ingredients that go into the mix for a good consumer-credit card relationship are: financial savvy, budget awareness, and a realization of the limitations of credit card spending. A consumer conscious of these things is poised to make the best of a credit account, using it to build credit instead of ruining one?s good financial record. Experts suggest that consumers looking to build credit or expand on good credit they have already, should shop for the best credit card deal possible. Most credit card companies are more than willing to waive annual fees and lower interest rates for customers with good credit records. Consumers must be willing sometimes to pick up the phone and discuss their options with the company?s customer service representative. Also, a savvy consumer pays their bills off regularly; they don?t allow large purchases to linger on their account over time. It is this manner of usefulness that makes a credit card a beneficial financial tool.

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