My Evolving View on Credit Cards

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earn rewards on every dollar you spend

Mention the word credit card and you’re likely to get a broad range of responses. You have those who demonize credit cards and blame them for a majority of financial ills and others who love to use them. As one who has held most of the range of opinions on credit cards at one point or another it’s always interesting to discuss it with others.

I’ve shared extensively in the past about my dealings with credit card debt and know that I’m not alone in that unfortunately. Beyond my lack of contentment that ultimately fueled the crazy spending I had come to embrace, the major issue was that I was clueless as to how a credit card was really meant to be used. This is not meant to shift blame by any means, simply to explain that I did not educate myself as to how this financial tool worked.

Over time, however, I began to learn how credit cards should be used. Essentially I learned that it’s a tool that, when used appropriately, is a valuable asset to have – for a variety of reasons. As many of my more regular readers know I have moved to the other end of the spectrum where I now use this tool to earn free rewards that allow my family and I to travel for free. While it may seem strange, it can be a great way to earn something back for your regular everyday spending…assuming you do it wisely of course.


If you’d like to read more about my love-hate relationship with credit cards, please read my newest article at Daily Finance


Photo courtesy of: Tax

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John Schmoll

I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally.


  • While my view on credit cards has changed and I definitely enjoy the affiliate revenue credit cards have brought me, the number of posts in the blogosphere about them is getting to be a bit overwhelming. I see about 20 posts about them every week! I can’t blame people for writing about them, though, when they are getting free travel (myself included).

    • John says:

      I get your point DC. Though, I imagine a lot of it goes back to more and more people getting into travel hacking. 🙂

      • Andrew says:

        I wonder if credit card bonuses will eventually suffer if more and more people get into travel hacking?? I hope not. I haven’t really done much since I’ve been trying to keep my credit pristine for mortgage and co-op…and I didn’t plan on traveling too much with a little one. I want it to still be there when it’s time to travel. Or maybe I can just hoard my points until then…but then they also devalue points…oh well!

        • John says:

          I don’t know that the rewards will go away as the issuing banks are always going to want more card holders. But, I do think they could definitely make it harder to take advantage of them like restricting multiple sign ups or devaluing the points. Time will tell though, but I hope not. 🙂

  • I find my opinions of cc’s evolving too. And my opinions on a lot of things. I think the one thing this post says about you, John, is that you’re always looking for new ways to learn, and that is key to any type of success. 🙂

    • John says:

      I think that’s inevitable for a lot of us…hopefully. 🙂 I agree Laurie, I am always looking for new ways to learn – otherwise I’d be bored. 🙂

  • I’ve almost always viewed credit cards as a good thing. Not quite sure why, but I did research about them in my teens. I knew I would eventually use one to build credit. As I’ve grown, they’ve become important to me to earn rewards, manage money, etc… however I don’t think my views on credit cards have ever really changed.

    • John says:

      Good for you Josh! I think you’re on the outside looking in with credit cards. Meaning, you took the time to educate yourself and then use them wisely. That is rare, for the most part, these days.

  • Glad you found a nice balance in your “relationship.” 🙂 I churn credit cards now, but I’m thinking about backing off a bit. I need to make sure I keep better track of things like yearly fees and whatnot. I think it can easily get out of hand unless you’re super organized.

    • John says:

      Ha ha, yes balance is good. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of annual fees and minimum spends. I’m too busy otherwise to keep track of it.

  • Poor Student says:

    My parents were not a big fan of credit cards so I grew up thinking that it’s a bad thing to have. Nevertheless, now after I did research about it, it can actually be very rewarding — since nowadays companies offer cash back and other rewards that we can redeem basically for free or for a very low price.

  • Credit cards are a tricky subject. For people who are just getting out of debt and people who continue to have issues with debt, cc’s are terrible. For those who can harness their power and use them wisely, they can provide great rewards. As you know, we use them all the time to get free travel. However, we pay them off several times a month.

    • John says:

      That they can be Greg. We use them all the time to get rewards and free trips and we pay them off every month so it only makes sense to take advantage.

  • debt debs says:

    I still love credit cards. It’s how you manage them that’s important. Not saying it’s for all though.

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