Are Credit Cards Essential Today?

There was once a time when credit cards were seen as something new, exciting, and even a little dangerous. Many people refused to even countenance the idea of carrying one, as concerns over the potential for crippling debt problems outweighed the benefits of paying with plastic.

Of course, back in those days, credit cards were also simply not as appealing as they are today - they were often expensive by today's standards, and offered few of the features we take for granted today such as cash back, 0% balance transfers, and interest free purchases.

Credit Proliferation

Nowadays, things have changed vastly, with there now being more active credit cards in the UK than residents - obviously, having just one credit card is now somewhat unusual, with most adults carrying two or more. With plastic now being so widespread, is it almost an essential part of our lives?

Online Shopping

Firstly, the rise of the internet and online shopping has contributed greatly to credit card popularity. Can you imagine shopping online, but having to send a cheque through the post before you could receive your goods? Plastic of one kind or another is vital if you wish to benefit from the ease, convenience, and economy of shopping online.

Decline Of The Cheque

Speaking of cheques, these are definitely in their twilight years, with many major retailers not now accepting them as valid payment methods. If you don't want to carry cash, but your cheques aren't accepted, then plastic is the only way to go.

Borrowing Money and Debts

Credit cards also act as a sort of financial buffer for many people, helping to even out expenses over the course of a year (for example, paying for Christmas via credit and then shuddering at the January statement is a yearly tradition for millions).

There is of course a darker side to credit cards. As mentioned earlier, debt problems are a very real possibility if cards are used recklessly. Their very ease of use and convenience makes it too easy for many people to rack up balances that they can't afford to pay off, with all the problems that follow on from that.

Debit And Prepaid Cards

Because of this, many people still prefer to to use credit cards, but still find that paying by plastic is a necessity. This is where debit cards such as Maestro come in, allowing payment to be made in much the same way is a credit card but with the crucial difference that if you don't have the funds in your bank account to cover the payment, the transaction will be declined.

The same goes for prepaid cards, which are becoming more and more popular both as a way of avoiding debt, and as a way for people with poor credit ratings to have a plastic payment option.

So, it does seem that today's world makes it more or less essential to carry plastic, but there are still options available for those who are rightly wary of becoming debt ridden.

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