The Pros and Cons of Having a Credit/Debit Card

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When I was in high school, anyone with a credit/debit card was #goals. 

It always seemed so glamorous and cool to be able to purchase things online, buy music, apps - anything I set my heart to - and with some relatives talking about how easy it was to acquire gadgets and how they often get freebies at their favorite local stores and restaurants, I knew I wanted to have one the moment I started working.

Fast-forward several years later, I am now a member of the working tribe - with a debit card.

Photo from oraclefox.com
In less than three months, I had spent a lot. The figures don't even matter. The point is, if I usually thought about buying something before, I would put it off until I had really thought about whether it was a necessity or a luxury. These past months, however, I would buy things whenever I felt like it - or whenever I had money in my card.

So, to help out my fellow starters in the working world, I've put together a list of pros and cons I have personally experienced and thought about since acquiring one of those fancy modes of payment. I'm still learning, but hopefully, this helps you avoid the mistakes I so immaturely made. 

The Pros

1. Everything online is available for purchase.

Items that are sold at one place aren't necessarily found in another, and thus, there's a distance barrier we're immediately faced with. PVC dolls or high-end clothing and jewellery are hard to come by in the Philippines (and I expect in other countries too), and without an online mode of payment, they get even harder to purchase. Imagine wanting to buy a best-selling, hardbound book that can only be bought online but not having any means to get it? Or, say, wanting a product that will be released in the US ahead of your country and wanting to have it at the same time? With a credit/debit card, buying is literally just a click or tap away.

2. There are bulky wallets no more.

Of course, depending on the type of spender you are, you may or may not need a wallet that has multiple pockets and coin space once you own a card. In college (a.k.a. a time not so long ago), my wallet would look like it was about to burst. All. The. Time. Coins took most of the space, followed by other cards I use (like the National Bookstore Student Card or the Starbucks Card), then the receipts, then the bills. It was horribly stuffed, in other words. Nowadays, my wallet isn't as fat as it once was, all thanks to my card.

3. Paying for online services has become a breeze.

I love paying for online services that give me great content. Sites like Hulu and Netflix are my current favorites, along with Apple Music, Kobo, and Kickstarter (I might write a separate post for these guys). Just recently, I backed Batband, a project on Kickstarter that promises to give you an audio experience like no other and still hear whatever's going on around you. Awesome, right? It's the little things like these that make having a debit/credit card the greatest thing on the planet. 

4. Eating out has become a better experience.

I'm not sure if it's just in the Philippines or if it also happens in other countries, but if you own a debit/credit card and use it to pay in restaurants (or anywhere in the mall), the waiters/cashiers treat you better. I've had an insane amount of experience with this (combined with a few social experiments) and it's incredible. It's not like you're trying to be someone else and pretending you're filthy rich, I assure you. Sometimes, the waiters don't pay much attention to me when I give off a normal vibe (this is quite hard to explain - perhaps another dedicated post for this?), but when the bill has arrived and I whip out my card, they suddenly change their mood. It's weird, but awesome.


The Cons

1. There's a tendency to spend a whole lot more than usual.

The fact that anything can be bought online means we might not realize that we're spending more than ever. This happened to me around a month ago, while I was browsing through the iTunes store for new tracks to add to my list. Since the price for each song tends to be around 0.69c - 1.29c (depending on the track), my brain thinks I'm spending very little by buying one by one. After looking through my purchases at the end of the day, I realized I had spent at least $12 worth of music.  That's around P560 in the Philippines. While there's nothing wrong with buying and supporting music (which I really fight for), I had never spent that much money on iTunes before. It was quite shocking, too.

Aside from online purchases, buying form physical stores really prove the efficiency of having a card in place of cash and coins. As I mentioned earlier, I usually spend time to think about buying a product, but since I know I can easily pay for it, the decision-making process is shortened. Want that cool statement shirt? Swipe. Like that hip sweater from H&M? Swipe. 

I think you get the point.

2. Materialism takes on a bigger, clearer form.

What we don't have, we really want. Be it gadgets, clothes, or other things, we try to acquire that item that we think will make us happier. With an easier means to support our materialism, we can get easily tempted. I know that from experience. Simply put, because I have money to spend, it no longer matters where that money goes, as long as I feel satisfied for a little while about something I bought online. Not good.

3. Maintaining the balance between card and cash gets trickier.

Well, for me, at least. I rarely have any cash on me these days. Since I've begun to rely on my card to buy things, I've seemed to have forgotten that I need coins for transport and lunch with my co-workers. The place we eat at doesn't accept debit card since it's a small eatery/canteen. Although this isn't a huge problem, I thought I'd include this also as a reminder for me to be prepared for emergencies when I need cash on hand.


While I'm not going to ditch my debit card anytime soon, a little separation wouldn't hurt I guess. There are a lot of advantages with owning a card and a few cons that go along with it. I would've applied for a credit card instead (a bigger problem in the future, I'm sure) but I'm 9 months shy from being qualified. That's for the best, it would seem.

If you're thinking about getting a credit/debit card, I hope this post helps you become more aware of some things to consider and keep watch over when using it. It's not all glamour.

Either that, or I'm a shopaholic.

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