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Which Type of Credit Card User Are You?

by Ryan Guina

Credit cardsYesterday I wrote about the 5 types of credit card users from the credit card company perspective. At the end of my article, I stated that I am a Max Payer. I only charge items to my credit card that I have the ability to pay for immediately. If I don’t already have the money to pay for my purchase, I won’t charge it. I prefer using credit cards instead of cash because it is safer, and I get cash back rewards. There are many other benefits of using credit cards – as long as they are used appropriately.

Today I ask my readers, which of the 5 types of credit card users are you?

  1. Max Payers – pay in full on-time, every time: Congratulations! You have the good fortune of being able to use credit cards as a tool, and possibly even profit from cash back, rewards points, miles, or other incentives . Keep up the good work!
  2. Revolvers – always carry debt: Being in this group is hazardous for your financial health! Only making minimum payments will stretch your debt out for years, if not decades. To get out of this cycle, start paying more than the minimum amount on your credit card bills and try to get it to the point where you can pay them off completely. It will take hard work, but the reward of no longer paying high interest fees or having debt hanging over your head is well worth it. Next, you can work toward becoming a Max Payer – and letting the credit card companies pay you instead! (or, if you prefer, becoming a member of the last group, The Non-Users).
  3. Deadbeats – never pay, nor have any intention of paying: Obviously, Deadbeats are the worst type of credit card customer for everyone involved. Deadbeats are thieves who use credit cards to ring up debt they never plan on paying. They often break they law to do this, and if they are using stolen cards or used fraudulent means to obtain the cards (such as identity theft), they can easily ruin an innocent person’s credit. Deadbeats also cost credit card companies, law enforcement agencies, and ultimately other credit card customers and tax payers millions of dollars. Pay your bills! Seriously, you are harming yourself and others.
  4. The Arbitragers – game the system to make money from 0% balance transfers: Making money from credit card companies. Beautiful. :) Just make sure you play by the rules and don’t mess up, or you will find yourself with a big bill that will erase your profits and possibly hurt your credit rating. You should only be a member of this group if you know what you are doing. As a side note, most members of this group are also members of the Max Payers group.
  5. The Reformed Credit Card User, or, the Non-User: Once bitten, twice shy. Some people have had bad experiences with credit card debt and now realize they shouldn’t risk the temptation of an easy line of credit. You know what is best for your situation. If you don’t want the temptation or feel like you can responsibly use a credit card – then don’t! I admire people who know themselves well enough to make a decision that is in their best interest – and stick to their decision.

Which type of credit card user are you? Credit cards are tools – nothing more. However, just like any other tool, you should use them properly to achieve your goals. Some people make money using credit cards, and others shouldn’t use them at all. Ask yourself which type of credit card user you are, and answer honestly – it is you who has the most to gain.

Photo Credit: Lotus Head via stock.xchng.


Published or updated January 26, 2010.
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ThirtyAndBroke

I’m currently A Non User. I haven’t had a credit card in the last 4 years. I’m getting to the point now where I feel I can responsibly use them. I would like to purchase a home in the next 3 years, so I need to improve my credit score.

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2 Ryan

ThirtyAndBroke,

If you feel you can responsibly use a credit card, then go for it. If you had a problem with credit card debt in the past, I recommend slowly getting back into using them and set a strict budget to begin with. A budget will keep you from overspending, which is easy to do. If you plan on buying a home, you will need to have good credit, and responsibly using a credit card will help you establish that credit. Good luck!

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3 Mark McGuire

I would say I am a hybrid blend between a Max Player and a Revolver. I recently got a secured credit card (only so I can control the credit limit and if necessary, pay off the balance with my secured savings account only as a last ditch attempt). I noticed that my credit score has been going up more and more by keeping a minimum balance of 10% of my credit limit.

Of course it helps that my credit limit is only $500 dollars. So the balance is rarely above $50 dollars, and it is only used to buy airline tickets in advance before the rates goes up on AirTran.

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4 Brip Blap

From my point of view, Max Payer is the only way to go. As much as the arbitrage seems like a cool idea I’m sure there are sob stories of people getting burned on it out there. Better to stick to investing in stocks/bonds/real estate/businesses, methinks!

But I don’t even try to get new 0% credit cards anymore, which I used to do – run up huge balances while putting money in high-yield savings accounts. The risk that something would go wrong just doesn’t appeal to me anymore…

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5 Ryan

Mark, your FICO credit score is determined by credit history, amount owed as a percentage of credit available, length of credit, new credit, and type of credit.

By keeping a small amount of revolving debt on your card, you are keeping your utilization rate low (amount of debt owed as a percentage of debt available), and building credit history. Your plan sounds like a good plan, although I am not sure if a secured card has any different effect on credit vs. a standard line of credit. (Remember, type of credit is a component of your FICO score).

The important thing is, you know and understand your credit habits and you are working to improve them. Keep up the good work!

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6 Ryan

Brip Blap, it all comes down to the amount of risk each person is willing to take. Some people are able to get cash advances for large amounts ($10,000+) and get a 0% interest rate for an introductory period. Multiply that by several cards at 5% guaranteed, and it can be a decent sum of money. But, there is work and risk involved. For some people it’s just not worth the time and effort for the amount of money they will get. For others, the risk is just not worth it.

As for me, I take the same position as you – I just pay my cards off in full every month. That is the easiest way for me to handle my finances.

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7 ispf

At present I am a hybrid of max payer and arbitrager.

Brip Blap: I make ~$2000 from credit card arbitrage a year. It makes up for all the unaccounted “indulgences” I have throughout the year :) If the interest rates by online banks keeps going down though, I might also get out of the game, since the returns will no longer be worth it. But for now, why say no to free money? :)

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8 Ryan

ispf,

It’s hard to argue with $2,000 extra income per year! But, it has to be something people are comfortable to do, and most people just aren’t. Congrats on using the system in your favor! ;)

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9 Pinyo

This is a very clever post. I am a Max Payer, and I agree, this is the only way to go.

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10 Eric

I’m a reformed Revolver who has been a Max Payer for a while now. Once I got strict about being a Max Payer, I went out and did the research to find the best rewards card for me. It’s great to be making at least some of the money back from the credit card company :)

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11 Mrs. Micah

We’re a cross between 5 & 1. We’re paying them off and don’t plan to use them. But if we do, for some reason, we don’t plan to carry a balance.

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12 Broke Grad Student

I’m a Max Payer, always have been, and hopefully always will be. I recently wrote about why I use credit cards on my blog.

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13 MoneyEnergy

Max Payer is definitely the ideal. I’m not sure I would ever recommend the arbitrage thing. Right now I’m a hybrid between Max Payer and Revolver. I always pay more than the minimum, and right now I’m actually a Max Payer but still have debt left over from when I wasn’t able to pay it off in full. So the balances are coming down.

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14 Michelle

Revolver hoping to become a non user. I am trying hard to curtail my spending and try to pay the most I can towards my bills. I even paid one off!

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