Credit Card Companies HATE Her! Stay Out of Credit Card Debt With This One Weird Trick

Kitty was once at an event where a credit card company was hawking their new cash rewards credit card. The credit card rep excitedly told her about all the cash back rewards she could earn by using the card, and how the interest wasn’t even “that bad!”

But mama didn’t raise no fool. Instead of falling head over heels for low interest, Kitty asked, “But what if someone pays off the credit card debt in full and on time? Will they still get the rewards?”

“Ah,” the credit card rep sighed, “we call those people deadbeats.”

A deadbeat, Kermit.

That’s right: deadbeats. Credit card companies fucking hate people like Kitty and I. And that’s exactly how we like it!

Your humble Bitches are basically allergic to credit card debt. We avoid it at all costs. Our massive student loans were bad enough! So the thought of adding credit card debt on top of that literally figuratively gives me hives. And I’ve got to keep this skin looking smooth and clear! WE’RE ON YOUTUBE NOW, YOU GUYS!

So here’s our one weird secret to staying out of credit card debt and making credit card companies hate you too.

First, aspire to be a deadbeat

Credit card companies aren’t charities. They aren’t out here offering nice fat lines of credit out of the goodness of their (nonexistent) hearts. They’re for-profit companies. Their whole purpose is to make money!

They make that money by charging their customers interest. You buy a thing with your credit card and your credit card company will charge you interest on the amount every billing cycle until you pay it off. And that’s generally how this symbiotic relationship works: you get access to money you need even when you don’t personally have it, and the credit card company charges you for that access.

They also make a small percentage back from the vendors every time you use your credit card. But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just focus on interest, for which the customer is responsible.

Here’s more on interest and how it can cause people to get stuck in cycles of debt:

But what if you could get access to the credit card company’s money for free? What if you could access that money and never have to pay for it? And what if, as a happy side effect, that kept you out of credit card debt?

Well then that would make you a deadbeat—someone who doesn’t pay interest on their credit card purchases. And while that sucks a tiny bit for the poor credit card companies (insert mournful violin solo here), it’s pretty fucking great for us deadbeats!

One weird trick to stay out of credit card debt

The one weird trick is, of course, avoiding paying interest on your credit card debt. Which, unless you pay an annual fee for your credit card, basically means you’re getting a loan FOR FREE. You’re accessing a revolving line of credit, courtesy of the credit card company, without paying them a dime.

To veteran credit card deadbeats this is business as usual. So let us speak, for the nonce, to those who have yet to master the art of deadbeatery. Follow the steps in this one weird trick, my aspiring deadbeats, and you too shall be hated by your credit card company!

Step 1: Pay off your credit card on time

The first step to pissing off your credit card company is to pay your bill on time.

Not only does this mean you won’t accrue further interest, but it’s also hella good for your credit! As you’ll recall from our highly detailed and delightful explainer on how credit works (which you’ve read by now, right? Right?), one important factor determining your credit score is your habit of paying bills on time. Your credit card bill is included in that calculation.

So find out when your monthly credit card payment is due, and plan to pay off your balance a day or two before that. If you’re bold, you can even schedule an automatic monthly payment. And while you can of course handle the bills through snail mail (millions of septuagenarians can’t be wrong), we strongly recommend handling this through your credit card company’s website. It’s easy, fast, and saves you a stamp.

You’ll be wresting interest straight out of the dastardly clutches of your credit card company!

Step 2: Pay off your credit card in full

The next step in avoiding credit card debt is to pay off that monthly bill in full. That means getting your credit card balance down to $0 each and every time your bill is due.

And that’s a little more complicated than simply scheduling your payments. Anyone with multiple thousands in credit card debt is currently no-shit-Sherlocking me to death. Paying off that card in full means you need to avoid spending more on your credit card than you can afford to pay off every month.

You can do this in a number of ways!

  1. Some people only use their credit cards for emergencies while also keeping a robust emergency fund on hand.
  2. Others pay off every purchase a day or two after they make it.
  3. Some folks keep a militant budget and put only budgeted purchases on the credit card.
  4. Some people keep their credit limit on their credit card well below what they can afford to pay off every billing cycle.

However you choose to do it, it takes careful planning and attention to avoid overspending on a credit card. So while I know “just pay it off in full!!!!” sounds like simple advice, know that in practice it can be a big challenge for some people.

And that’s it! That’s the one weird trick to avoid credit card debt and become a credit card deadbeat: Pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every time.

What if I can’t pay off my balance in full this month?

STOP BEING POOR

Worry not, aspiring deadbeat. For while you may not be what we like to call a Gold Star Deadbeat, we still welcome you into our ranks with open arms.

There are lots of reasons someone might overspend on a credit card in a given billing cycle! Credit card debt happens to the best of us! We ourselves recommend using your credit card as an emergency fund once you get to a certain level of financial stability.

Whether it’s because you lose your job and need help paying the bills, or because you tripped and broke your weenus (my nurse friend swears this is a real thing but I’m skeptical), or because you just made a few too many impulsive purchases, once you get into credit card debt your financial priority should be getting out of it.

That means trying like mad to get back on the path to deadbeatdom. You can catch up, but it takes discipline and a plan. To that end, we have a whole curated menu of debt-specific advice. Start here:

Reap the rewards

Here’s the best thing about being a credit card deadbeat: you get to reap the rewards without paying for them.

For our fifth wedding anniversary, Bear and I went to Portugal for a week… for free.

Best reason to stay out of credit card debt: A trip down South America way.

You see, we have a Capital One Venture card. It’s a lovely little credit card that offers what they call “travel rewards points.” For every dollar I spend on the credit card, I get travel rewards points back. Then, when I make a travel purchase (airline tickets, a hotel stay, even a ride in a Lyft), I can use those points to erase the purchase from my credit card like it never happened.

So we saved up our travel rewards points for our big trip to Portugal. We put most of our normal household expenses on the card—groceries, gas, the ‘youze—along with any big purchases—a lawnmower, medical bills—so we could rack up points quickly. And the whole time, we carefully paid off those purchases on time and in full every billing cycle. We were deadbeating it up like pros.

We then bought our flights and booked our hotels on the credit card. Then we accessed our account through Capital One’s website and used the points to pay off the flights and hotels. Poof! Gone were the charges! It was like we’d gotten thousands of dollars worth of travel expenses for free.

The only thing we paid for in Portugal was delicious seafood and gallons of crisp green wine.

Capital One probably hates us… but I’ve never been more proud to be a deadbeat.

They were asking for it

“If it’s so easy to be a deadbeat and get rewarded for it, why do credit card companies even offer rewards?” An excellent question, my hypothetical friend!

You see, the dangers of credit card debt are well known and documented. Almost half of the American population has credit card debt. Nerdwallet reveals that a recent study put the total amount of American credit card debt at [gulp] $357.04 billion, with the average credit card debtor owing $6,006. So, people fucking know how damaging credit card debt can be. They’ve been struggling under it for years.

And while some people in credit card debt got there out of a few emergencies or bad decisions that snowballed out of control, I imagine others in credit card debt needed some cajoling. You see, potential new credit card customers have been warned. They’re understandably hesitant to get credit cards in a lot of cases.

Enter credit card rewards: an enticing way to sell a high-interest credit card to someone who might not be able to avoid paying interest.

We all go into credit card ownership planning to be deadbeats most of the time. But for some it can be a challenge. Credit card companies are counting on their juicy rewards to tempt the debt-averse into becoming indebted to them.

So let’s use their tactics against them. Let’s be credit card deadbeats. Strategically suck up all those rewards while avoiding interest and credit card debt.

Get something for nothing, all at the credit card companies’ expense! It’s the American financially independent way!

Are you a fellow credit card deadbeat? Gloat about it in the comments below!

29 thoughts to “Credit Card Companies HATE Her! Stay Out of Credit Card Debt With This One Weird Trick”

  1. I flummoxed the Capital One customer service rep when I got my credit card by asking how often I could make payments on my card. Like he put me on hold to go ask someone. Apparently it’s not a common question. But it’s helped me stay out of debt!

  2. Cheers from Portugal, Hope you liked it here.

    Here we have credit cards form credit companys and from banks and even from supermarket chains, they make money from interest but they also make money from a charge on the transaction to the seller. I’ think visa and mastercard also does it in America, but here every card has a different charge.
    Some sellers don’t accept cards debit or credit on less than 5€.

    I’m a proud deadbeat, when i had a mortgage i abused this tactic, maximizing my loan payment, and using my card for almost every purchase to my benefit. My card renues every 15, so every charge before 15 is due on the end of the month, every charge after 15 is due in the next month. With careful planning I was chopping my mortgage quickly.

    1. Honey, I LOVED your country. We had an absolute blast and would go back in a heartbeat. The food, the wine, the architecture, the history, the music, the dancing, the people… glad to hear y’all have credit card deadbeats too!

  3. Deadbeating it all the way! We put every expense on our credit card and pay it off a couple of days before its due by direct debit so we don’t even have to think about it. We get 60 days to spend the banks money instead of our own, and for those 60 days our own money is in our offset account reducing interest on our mortgage. We chose a credit card from a bank that funds fossil fuel investments and so feel not a shred of guilt about spending their money – after all its less money that they then have to loan to coal-mines etc. Saving money and saving the climate at the same time!

  4. Deadbeat here. I graduated without student loans and got an AmEx a year or so after walking because they were basically the only company that would give a card to someone with no credit history. I’ve been leaning into it a little too much lately–retail therapy and a missed paycheck from changing jobs and what not–but I pay off the balance every paycheck. The rewards with AmEx are just okay honestly, all their travel cards charge a yearly fee– this article may have convinced me to get a Capitol One Venture card… mama’s got a lot a trips she wants to go on.

  5. The credit card companies still make money on every transaction. The seller pays 2 to 4% so they’re not going broke if you pay in full each month. If you don’t pay in full, they collect from both sides of the transaction – both buyer and seller. We’re not deadbeats.

    1. I definitely should have made that clear in the article. Because you’re right: they ARE still making money off of us, even if we don’t pay interest! And yet “deadbeats” was their word, not ours.

      1. And that’s the height of irony. We’re getting less than 1% on savings accounts and they’re getting, at a minimum, 2 to 4% in 30 days. Greedy b*****rds.

    2. Yeah, I was going to say this. Credit card companies actually love us because we spend a lot and they make plenty off seller fees. We are predictable and stable and won’t renege on our debt. We’re like bonds instead of risky stocks. They will bend over backwards to get and keep our business.

      (Have been to a talk with industry professionals where they noted that the deadbeat thing was actually a myth.)

    3. My mechanic is old school – he likes being paid by check (will also take debit card). He charges an extra 2% for repairs paid for by credit card in order to recoup the bank fees.

  6. For a while I was able to pay my rent on a credit card. The sweet cash back that gave me…. *happy sigh* I was pretty disappointed when they added processing fees, so I just switched to checks, but for a couple years, I was MAKING money on my rent!

  7. *Gloating it up*
    I use my credit card just like it’s a debit card! This works in my brain because I have it set to autopay in full every month from the same account that my debit card is hooked up to!

    After coming out of college with enormous student loan debt I was incredibly reluctant to even get a credit card. In fact I only got it at 25 after I was fully certain I could use it without abusing it.

    1. I was the exact same way! I didn’t open any credit cards until my student loans were paid off because I was afraid of getting into a habit of spending money I didn’t have. When friends talked about the rewards I was missing out on, I just kind of shrugged it off because the opportunity loss was a small price to pay in order to NOT get into a contract with the Devil’s Plastic (my phrase for CCs at the time). But, come to think of it, at the time, I don’t think I knew anyone who wasn’t carrying around credit card debt…

      Now that my loans are paid off, there is a small part of me that gets excited for the rewards points that I reap once a year (typically used for holiday presents…and maybe a gift or two for myself). I was only comfortable getting a card now knowing that I would be able to pay them off every time a new paycheck cleared (every 2 weeks). I think it’s good to be cautious of cards, but in hindsight, if you’re going to spend the money anyway…well, it’s something to build a strategy around.

  8. We’re remodeling, so have put a lot on our card this year. But we are also deadbeats, so have been paying it off each month, despite making Experian a bit nervous about our higher than usual credit usage. The card gives us 2% cash back on everything. Apparently the credit card company is still making a ton of money off our purchases. Yesterday they actually sent us a lovely gift box to thank us. It has curated breakfast items: coffee, tea, pancake mix, maple syrup, two cups, & four coasters. Plus a handwritten thank you note. Maybe we’re deadbeats, but we don’t feel hated.

  9. Another deadbeat here! I have close family who live outside the U.S., and I’m only a few weeks away from a trip to visit them funded entirely by a credit card sign-up bonus and rewards points on purchases I would have made anyway. (I signed up for a new travel rewards credit card last summer when no one was traveling and the bonuses were awe-inspiring.) My total out-of-pocket for a trans-Atlantic flight to a major international capital: $0. It’s worth it, is what I’m saying.

  10. I wanted to try this, but having struggled with credit card debt before I was worried about slipping up. Recently started using the “you need a budget ” app and am surprised how much it has helped. Any time I spend on a credit card it allocates money from my budget to the repayment, so I always have enough to cover the balence and don’t get a surprise when my direct debit comes around. I feel so much more in control! Will be using my CC for more regular spending now to make the most of the rewards. I am trying to be mindful not to use it with small businesses I want to support though, so they don’t have to pay the fees either – solidarity!!

    1. That’s wonderful!!! We’ve heard really good things about YNAB from friends who use it. I’m so glad it’s helped you and allowed you to use your cc more freely.

  11. I am 100% that bitch–pay off the card in full every month and insist on getting paper statements in the mail like a septuagenarian!

  12. The other day I spent ten minutes trying to explain to my completely flummoxed parents (who got into bad credit card debt when I was a kid…long story) why I pay for everything with my credit card. And it’s this exact reason: I pay the balance every month, and I earn travel points.

    Except my plan is Egypt, not Portugal. 🙂

  13. This is not a “weird trick”. This is what me and my family have been doing for 30+ Years. Yawn, nothing to see here, and this clickbait article was much to do about nothing.

  14. we managed to put part of our new car on our credit card (many years ago now). We have a BIG emergency fund because I like having lots of cash on hand due to some insecure times in childhood so we paid it all off in full, of course. That’s the largest amount we’ve been able to put on it at any one time and I have to confess I still feel pretty smug about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.