At one point in my life I had about 7 credit cards. I played the point systems and was really good at avoiding fees while earning reward points for traveling. I flew to Indonesia, Colombia, Mexico, and throughout the USA for close to free just by using my card for transactions rather than cash. I would also shuffle money around between 0% interest cards so that I could have debt without actually paying much interest on it. This allowed me to do things that I wouldn’t actually be able to afford at the time and then work it off later (usually within 6-18 months as that was the length of the 0% intro APR’s). By canceling out cards and starting new ones I managed to work the system pretty well, all without breaking any of their rules. I didn’t morally support the companies, but I figured that by using them in my favor I could take much more from them than they were getting from me. In this manner I felt I was not really supporting them, but rather taking from “the man”.
I would not do today what I did in my early twenties as my ethos has changed. I am as unsupportive of “the man” as ever but my tactic is not to “use the man” but rather to refuse to use any of their services. I have come to believe that participation is perpetuation, meaning that I cannot use the services of companies that I don’t ethically support. I have been educating myself profusely on our current dire issues in the environment and humanity and in the last five years and have taken hundreds of measures to live a life that is truly beneficial to the earth. In 2011 I really started to wake up but it took me a while to realize I had to get away from my credit cards. After three years of transforming my life I canceled my last credit card in the summer of 2014.
Here are 11 reasons I canceled my credit cards:
- When I had a credit card on me, I had basically unlimited funds in my pocket or at least far more than I would carry in cash. This meant that I didn’t have a cap to my spending on most days. When I started to leave my credit cards at home and only carry cash I had to actually pay attention to my spending which resulted in spending a lot less.
- Swiping a credit card didn’t feel like I was spending money. When I was guzzling gas at the station or buying the crap I thought I needed I was constantly swiping my card. Swiping a card rather than handing over cash removed me from what I was actually doing and resulted in me spending more.
- I started to shop at local businesses rather than the big box markets like Wal-Mart around this time so I started to actually care about the people I was doing business with. I wanted to help these businesses succeed. I knew that these companies paid a fee of around 3% when I used a card so I started to pay cash so that they wouldn’t lose out on that 3%. As a business owner myself at the time I knew that 3% really does matter.
- I realized the vast benefits of a local economy and keeping money in my own community. Credit cards are not part of a local economy and actually suck some of the money out of the community for the profit of multi billion dollar corporations.
- I no longer wanted to be a consumer. Credit cards and consumption tend to go hand and hand. Credit cards are a powerful tool for consumption and I decided I didn’t want to have this tool anymore.
- The American lifestyle is a life in debt. The average American my age has about $10,000 in credit card debt and I decided I did not want to be a part of this statistic. A lot people with the best intentions get in way over their head in debt. For many, it’s not their plan to get into debt but having that credit results in spending money that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I simply didn’t want to live in debt and getting rid of my credit cards largely meant that I would not have the option to get in debt.
- I decided I didn’t want to have credit anymore. For the longest time I had a really good credit score, somewhere in the high 700’s, and I valued that. Then I realized that I didn’t even want to have good credit. I don’t want to have the option to buy anything that I can’t afford. I don’t want a mortgage on a house. I don’t want car payments (or even to own a car). It is more important to me to be completely debt free than to have these things. In fact, I don’t even want these things at all anymore because I want to live a life of non-ownership. Owning things like this incurs other expenses like insurance. Credit is a gateway to 21st century rat race. This is a system I have largely removed myself from and disowning my credit score was an important step in this removal.
- I realized that the more I spent the more I really had to work, and credit cards just facilitated more spending. It occurred to me that for every dollar I didn’t spend that meant a certain number of minutes less of working. I decided that I wanted to truly pursue my passions in life and I realized that these passions didn’t revolve around money. So I have largely removed money from my life, which has meant that I don’t need credit cards anymore.
- I spent so much time on the computer dealing with finances and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I had bank accounts, credit cards, and accounts that helped me to manage my finances. This meant so many logins and passwords. This also meant that I ended up spending far too much time on the line with customer service centers. I found that I wasn’t always nice to the people on the other line because I really didn’t want to be on the phone with them. I just wanted one account, my bank account, and this meant a much happier me.
- I don’t support any of the big banks in the United States because I believe them to be contributors to some of the greatest environmental and social degradation of our time. They are profit driven machines that care very little for the earth and the well being of greater humanity. They will almost always choose profit over people or the planet. Since all of my credit cards were run by the big banks or connected to the big banks I knew I had to cancel mine.
- I honestly believe that most of my peers would be better off without credit cards. As I aim to lead by example I had to cancel my credit cards as well to show that life in the 21st century can be lived without credit cards and without credit.
I am striving for true freedom in life. I am striving to live for the benefit of the earth, my community, and myself. I am striving to be part of a shift towards a truly healthy, happy earth. This I feel is best done without a credit card to my name.