You can call them what you wish. I call them fanatics.
Webster’s defines a fanatic as one who has an “intense uncritical devotion”.
In the credit card discussion, I would say that credit card fanatics share these attributes:
- Have an opinion that they think must apply to everyone else.
- Refuse to see any possible positive benefits of the other side.
- Have extremely negative things to say regarding people who have a different opinion. They make fun of the people, but don’t deal with the facts.
As such, I would call Dave Ramsey a credit card fanatic.
What causes Credit Card Fanaticism?
Here are some common traits of credit fanatics:
- People who, in the past, have been burned by having credit cards. Somehow, it seems as though the logical conclusion is that if I couldn’t responsibly handle one, then no one can responsibly have one.
- People who regularly listen to the Dave Ramsey Show. Dave is a financial genius. He is passionate. His opinions are persuasive. He is dynamic. He is also a credit card fanatic, and his fanaticism often rubs off on fans.
- People who think that a debit card provides the exact same benefits as a credit card, without acknowledging any possible drawbacks. Here’s Why Credit Cards Rule Over the Inferior Debit Card (a clear overstatement of the facts)
- People who think the world should change and conform to their minority view on credit cards.
Is there an Alternative to Credit Card Fanaticism?
I think there is. I’d propose something called a healthy balance or using a credit card responsibly. Let me make this point clearly. If you are in credit card debt, a credit card does more financial harm than it could ever help.
However, there are folks like those who have left comments at Money Help For Christians who are debt free, financially healthy, use a credit card, and pay it off in full every month. All the while, responsible credit card users wonder why everyone else is sharpening their pitch forks. Last week I showed that I actually saved money by using a credit card.
Why are people who have spending boundaries in place and are disciplined with money subjected to the rants of credit card fanatics? I understand criticizing someone who is knee deep in debt who has a credit card (hey, I do that), but what about someone who has tens of thousands of dollars in the bank? Doesn’t that person have a ‘right’ to carry plastic without the insults of fanatics?
Drunkenness and Credit Cards: Why I Sympathize with Credit Card Fanatics
I see where all this intensity and passion comes from – witnessing so much damage and destruction from plastic.
In Papua New Guinea, where I live, there is a huge problem with drunkenness. This Christmas (when drunkenness is at its worse) one person I know was hit by a truck because he was walking drunk, another cheated on his wife while drunk, and another got drunk after 8 years of sobriety.
And it breaks my heart so see how much damage alcohol has done to individuals and families. In fact, it tempts me to go on a crusade demanding that stores no longer be permitted to sell alcohol.
But, there are some who drink socially and drink responsibly (no, I don’t want this to become a debate about Christian drinking). Should everyone’s choice in the matter be removed simply because of the grievous sins of a few?
Ultimately, the question is …
Can Credit Cards Be Used Responsibly?
My answer is yes.
What does responsible plastic user look like?
- Pay off balances in full each month.
- Openly admit credit cards do cost more (but not for me:)), but willing accept those costs as a convenience charge.
- Willing to destroy the card the moment they cannot make a payment.
- Have some spending checks and balances in place. For example, we have credit card spending guidelines.
I guess at the end of the day, I can say that I love and respect you credit card fanatics. I can see where you’re coming from, and I sympathize. However, why can’t you accept me? Why must I be labeled as an evil force just because I use and say positive things about credit cards? Can a credit card fanatic please send me an e-hug so I can feel the love?
Is credit card fanaticism valid? Can anything good come from credit cards? Am I missing some key causes of credit card fanaticism? Are you a credit card fanatic?