Do I need a credit card?

 

I’m not in the counseling trenches these days, and teaching personal finance helps to keep me updated on what is on consumers’ minds.
Teaching is also a daily reminder that socioeconomic class, age, life events, and financial experience and literacy all determine what’s in one’s thoughts on a particular day.  Moreover, our individual beliefs, attitudes, and values play a tremendous role in our life’s major decisions and outcomes and, cumulatively, the many billions of decisions that we make every day affect the larger economy.
Today’s topic was spurred by a student’s desire to get a credit card and how to select the “best” one. 
I did not include any of this in my response, but when I hear such a question my mind always screams, “Back up a step.  Why do believe that you even need one?”
Though a credit card can certainly facilitate transactions, I don’t believe that anybody “needs” one.  I’ve used a debit card for such as conference and hotel reservations and also for vehicle rentals. 
Though it’s been many years since I’ve flown internationally, I do know two people who have in more recent years, and they also have no credit cards.  One of them travels fairly regularly in North America, and the other has travelled to at least two countries in the Middle East and to several European countries.  I don’t remember the details of how they pulled it off; I only know that it is possible, and that it was not particularly complicated for either.
Eight or ten years ago a group of Purdue students surveyed area car rental companies for me, asking whether they require a credit card.  Some do and some don’t, so it will help to check in advance.  There’s a funny car-rental story about one of the two travelers that I mentioned.  I may ask the individual to write something about it someday.
I did include this:
As I recall, Dave Ramsey said that he carries four plastic cards in his wallet, and not one of them is a credit card.
I’m with him.

 

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