In Real Life: Credit Cards

When I was given my first credit card, I could tell that my expression was making my parents a little nervous. I could finally buy everything I wanted (or so I thought). Much to my dismay, there was a laughable maximum as the main point of my having it was to build my credit. This was way too responsible for my liking. Years have passed since my credit card debt was actually my parent’s debt and I am now the proud holder of my very own credit card. And I spend, spend, spend- all in the name of points and rewards, of course.

There is some irresponsible part of my brain that makes buying shoes I don’t need with a credit card a little more palatable than using a debit card. For one, it usually takes longer to show up in my online banking statements, which means I can remain in denial a bit longer. But I mainly feel better about using my credit card because with each purchase I earn points. It somehow feels more reasonable to buy something I don’t need when I am earning points towards a reward. The ideal thing would be to use the points to get a responsible reward, like a payment towards said debt (which I have done on more than one occasion). Yet there are certain times when something like an AM/FM waterproof clock radio is overwhelmingly persuasive.

I have been racking up points and “cashing” them in for rewards for a while now. It was only relatively recently that I realized the experience had been gamified: points and rewards have made the seemingly boring task of swiping a small plastic card more, well rewarding.

While I am sure there are a few parents and even more financial advisors who’d say points or no points, don’t spend it if you don’t have it. I, however, think it is an absolutely genius way to make putting yourself in debt a little more fun and attractive.



  1. » Gamification of credit cards - September 5, 2012

    […] Credit card point schemes are a familiar form of gamification. They obviously have some effect on puchase habits, as pointed out by Jennifer at “For The Win” (In Real Life: Credit Cards.) […]