The folks at CardRatings.com recently commissioned a survey about offbeat credit card purchases. Some 57 percent of those surveyed copped to a bit of buyer’s remorse, i.e., “What was I thinking?”
“Adult entertainment” was the top culprit, with 6.7 percent admitting to have purchased temporary jollies. Men are “about four times more likely than women to use a credit card for this purpose,” according to the CardRatings blog post.
You don’t say.
Plastic + nekkid lady bits/man meat + alcohol too often = many months of payback. Hope the view was worth it. (For a while I struggled to avoid linking “plastic” as in cards with “plastic” as in augmented lady bits. As you can see, I failed.)
Obviously I can’t resist having a bit of fun with this info, but the underpinnings are deadly serious. Richard Barrington, the author of the CardRatings.com post, notes that credit card balances have been rising for several years now. Currently we owe a collective $857 billion, and pay as much as $110 billion each year in interest.
The moral: Stop whipping out the, uh, plastic at the strip clubs. And elsewhere.
Cars, college and coffins
Close behind nudie reviews was “scalped event tickets,” with 6 percent of the populace slapping their own foreheads over having spent so much to attend a sold-out concert or game. It isn’t just the ticket markup, but also the reseller fee and, maybe, credit card interest if you can’t pay the bill in full at the end of the month. (But it was the PLAYOFFS….!)
Among the other purchases marked by intense feelings of retroactive-WTF:
Automobiles. Fully 5 percent of respondents say they paid for their wheels with plastic. My guess is that we’re talking used cars, and that the dealership really saw these numbskulls coming. I could see doing this if you had an awesome rewards card program and had enough money saved up for the vehicle to pay the credit card bill when it came due. If not, I second Barrington when he says that the average four-year auto loan rate is about 4.4 percent, “just over one-third of the typical credit card rate.”
College tuition. Not a bad idea, actually, if there’s no fee attached for paying with plastic – and if you can pay the freight from savings. The former might cancel out any rewards points you’d accrue. The latter is just ludicrous, since student loan interest rates are typically lower than credit card rates. Nevertheless, 4.7 percent said they’d charged their classes.
Funeral. Two percent of respondents admitted to paying by card. This isn’t a slam at the bereaved, Barrington notes, but at the deceased: “A funeral is something everyone should provide for as they get older. Funeral homes routinely make it very easy to set up a burial trust.”
I paid to get single
Tattoos. Some 3.3 percent swiped a card for body art. Not to be a buzzkiller, but what you consider your one true love – be it death metal or some gal named Yolanda – may not actually stand the test of time. Or you may find out no one’s anxious to hire someone with “BORN TO LOSE” on his or her bicep. The good news: The places that remove tattoos probably take plastic, too.
Wedding. Some 2.6 percent of those surveyed walked down the aisle with the potential for debt hanging over their heads. Mazel tov! You think those tuxes rent themselves? Bonus points to those whose beloveds insisted on pre-nuptial visits to the laser tattoo removal joint.
Bail. Another 2 percent used plastic to avoid the pokey. Nice. No indication on whether they wound up there after open bar at a wedding or a disagreement with a tattoo artist. (“That’s Yolanda with one ‘L,’ you moron! I want my money back!”)
I can’t say I’ve ever bought anything really weird with credit. The most expensive thing I ever did go into debt for was my divorce, which took a couple of years to pay in full. Best money I ever spent.
Readers: Have you ever really regretted something you bought with plastic? And what’s the weirdest thing you ever financed?
- Got a credit card? Get another one
- Cards and consequences
- The gift of personal finance
- This just in: Men prefer sex to a Valentine gift