FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

10 Reasons I Don’t Have a Credit Card

At a recent American Antitrust Institute (AAI) symposium in Washington, D.C., I asked the presenters about the ability of cash and checks to compete with the credit card industry and its strict controls on merchants. This obvious point becomes less obvious when one takes into account the expanding exclusion of cash/check payments due to the overwhelming expansion of goods and services that you cannot buy unless you have a credit card or a friend with one whom you can reimburse.

When sending some types of express mail, renting a car, or paying for the services of airlines/trains or hotels, you either cannot pay with cash/check or it is a real hassle of inquiries and conditions. The overall trend is to limit more and more what legal tender can actually buy in America because of exclusionary fine print contracts (see faircontracts.org).

For many people, the convenience of a credit card and potential for rewards justify their preference to forgo cash. Moreover, lower income consumers want a brief extension of credit, however expensive. Credit card carriers are given “points” such as frequent flyer miles, but often the consumer pays in other hidden ways for these “freebies.”

Notwithstanding the above obstacles, I still do not have a credit card or a signature-based debit card. There are ten relevant reasons for my preferring cash or checks over plastic.

1. Plastic lays the groundwork for massive, daily invasions of privacy. Personal purchasing data now floats around the world without controls. The data mining industry is everywhere and both government and hackers can get into peoples’ files. As Facebook and Google demonstrate, it is almost impossible to keep up with the sharing of your personal information.

2. Once you enter the credit economy you fall under the controls of arbitrary credit rating and credit scoring merchants. So if you complain strenuously to an auto dealer or insurance company, if you are a victim of false information in your credit file, or even if you have too many credit cards, your credit can suffer so that you pay more or are denied loans.

3. The credit card economy, with its anti-competitive no-surcharge rules, etc. is inflationary and affects negatively consumer purchasing power as well as lower savings rates.

4. Credit cards encourage impulse buying. The industry knows this very well. Swiping a plastic card rather than opening a wallet and directly taking cash out creates a disconnect between the purchase and the loss of money to the consumer.

5. Credit card terms—what Senator Elizabeth Warren calls “mice print”—are mostly inscrutable and non-negotiable. You sign on the dotted line, shut up and shop. Companies rarely compete over fine print terms that favor the consumer. Compare, with a suitable microscope, the standard form contracts of Visa, Mastercard or Discover or GM, Ford and Toyota, or Bank of America, Citigroup or Wells Fargo. Consumers have been driven into a choiceless contract of peonage or contract servitude.

6. Using cash/check encourages consumers to live within their means and not get caught in an ever deeper cycle of debt. For instance if you are out shopping with cash and set a budget for yourself, it is impossible to overspend if you simply do not bring more than has been allocated for your purchases.

7. Paying by cash/check avoids the gouging of fees, penalties, termination charges, and of course, sky-high interest rates for consumers. Corporations on the other hand enjoy low-interest rates across the board. (Remember, however, checks have a fee if they bounce.)

8. Paying by cash/check—say in a restaurant—saves time and follow-up monitoring for errors. Furthermore, it prevents the addition of any fraudulent charges to the bill.

9. Paying by cash/check avoids having to give away your personal property to the likes of internet companies that turn around and very profitably sell this free information to advertisers with such specificity that the latter knows what ailment or craving you have.

10. Credit card issuers often approve consumers for credit cards with maximum spending limits that are too high considering their salary or lack thereof.

Apple is now out with a payment system that does not require signing or clicking. You can regularly fall into the credit penitentiary with a mere swipe. What’s next, the evocation of brain waves?

There is a strong case for giving cash discounts to consumers, as is done by many gas stations. This would pass along the savings that the vendor would make by bypassing the credit card companies to benefit the consumers, a win-win situation. In addition, there should be no discrimination against consumers based on their choice of legal tender; vendors should have to accept all methods of payment.

Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail