Are Credit Cards Sinful? Part 2

Are Credit Cards Sinful? Part 2 March 8, 2012

My last post, Are Credit Cards Sinful, stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Most people agreed with the idea behind what I was saying, but felt I went too far calling credit card use sinful.

Calling it a sin, in my opinion, gives the card more power than you have. Asking this question is the same as saying that anyone who gets a tax return is a sinner. Why not? You are giving a loan to the government, right? -John

By calling it a sin is to say that we cannot control ourselves to use it to our advantage. It is your greed that is the sin… the focus should really be on teaching people to avoid the sins that credit cards make easier. -Jeremy

I do not believe credit cards are sinful. I believe that people are sinful in their actions. –Mark Terbog

I was told I demonize people, that I was attacking people when I should be helping them, and that reward points make credit cards worth the risk.

It was some of the best response I’ve ever gotten to a blog post!

Instead of responding to each individual comment, I wanted to hit a few big misunderstandings from my original post, respond to a few critics, and clarify a few things I may have said poorly.

Let’s begin!

Are Credit Card Users Sinners?

One of the biggest responses I got back (in comments, emails, and blog posts) was that I am demonizing an entire group of people (credit card users) by calling them sinful. In so doing, I am giving credit cards too much power and alienating credit card users who need help, not condemnation.

Let’s start with sin: everyone is sinful. “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10). In addition, sin isn’t something we do, it’s something we are. The Bible speaks of sin as our flesh, as the very coating of our body. Paul calls it our nature. It is the core of our being, it is inside of us, and it exists from the moment we are conceived until the day we die and are finally separated from our sin.

In America, greed is our defining sin. We work jobs we hate to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. We call this the American way and keeping up with the Jones’. It’s a nice way to say we’re greedy.

Businesses prey on your greed. They study us, learn about us, and figure out ways to get more of our money. What they’ve found (repeatedly) is the best way to get us to spend money is to give us credit cards.

First, credit cards give businesses more money since we spend significantly more with a credit card than we do with a debit card or cash. Then they make credit card companies money by giving us higher limits than we could possibly pay for. When our greed kicks in and we can’t pay for our cards, they charge us ridiculous interest rates and tack on insane fees which make them billions of dollars.

The credit card is a product of greedit’s design is to encourage people to buy things now instead of waiting for when they actually have the money.

Can it be used in a non-sinful way? Yes. But do people also use credit cards to fuel greed? Yes.

Saying you can “stick to a budget” and “pay it off every month” is a nice idea, but for many people, that’s just not a reality. Show me the studies that prove people are spending the same amount on credit cards as they do on debit cards or cash and I’ll consider changing my ways. But since those results don’t exist, I’m going to stick with my opinion that credit cards sinful.

Rewards: Are They Really Worth It?

The problem with rewards is that if they worked for everyone, companies wouldn’t use them. If you could make more money using credit card rewards than they could otherwise make off of you, they wouldn’t offer the rewards.

They don’t work for everyone because they cause more overspending than regular credit cards. Now you have an incentive to pay with a credit card instead of with cash or debit. You can justify things like buying more than you budgeted for because “you’ll get it back in rewards anyway”.

But the rewards are ridiculous. You spend $10,000 dollars to get 100 dollars in “rewards”. If you’re hit with a single interest payment on that kind of scale they win. And statistically, they will win.

If you’re still justifying rewards then get a checking account with Perkstreet Financial or one of the other free checking accounts that now come with rewards. Since you’re using money from your checking account, you’re significantly less likely to overspend than when using a credit card. Plus you don’t have to worry about debt, late fees, or other ridiculous charges that come with credit cards.

Show More Grace

Do I believe credit cards are sinful? Yes. Do I believe rewards aren’t worth it? Certainly. Do I show grace to people who are deeply in debt? You bet I do!

As I said earlier, we are all sinners. I struggle deeply with sin and if it weren’t for the blood of Jesus Christ I would revel in my sin daily. Instead, I’m blessed to have worked my way out of debt and now help people end debt, plan for their future, and enjoy the money God has given to them.  I get to see lives changed on a daily basis and I would never yell at, demonize, or bash someone for going into debt. I show grace like the grace that was shown to me.

But I also tell the truth when asked and encourage Christians to follow God and steward their money safely and with wisdom.

I didn’t write that post to make credit card users feel bad, but to confront an issue that no one is talking about. Debt is a sin. It takes our focus off of God and significantly limits the money He’s given us. Add to that the countless lives ruined by credit cards and you’ve got to deal with the fact that credit cards are designed in sin, are rarely used for God’s glory, and usually taint the lives of those who use them.

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