Follow The Rules, Get Stabbed In The Back

by Ron Haynes

Over the past two years, I’ve regularly chronicled my disdain for debt, calling it slavery and listening to scores of readers who think it’s no big deal. To me, debt is always a big deal because it represents an obligation to someone else and I don’t take any of my obligations lightly.

Just like tens of thousands, I’ve placed a high priority on following the rules any creditors have set up and I’ve paid them all as regularly as I could. Most of my creditors have been paid off and I have a big, fat ZERO on my account balances. If I do charge something, I pay it off as soon as possible, so you can only imagine my surprise when I found that Bank of America and Citigroup plan to assess a new annual fee of $29 to $99 on customers like me. For the record, I closed my Citigroup card when they started charging me an annual fee and I’m just waiting to see if Bank of America plans to follow suit. Without it, they don’t make a lot of money on me.

It’s difficult to live without a credit card

It’s difficult to live without a credit card today. They provide consumer protection, they’re required if you want to rent a car or get a hotel room, they’re almost your only choice when buying anything on the Internet, and they are fast becoming the preferred method of payment at many retailers.

So what do I plan to do? I’m considering several different credit cards as an alternative to my old Bank of America card:

I think it would be easier to go ahead and get one of these credit cards now, before I’m forced to cancel my only credit card (the Bank of America card) because of some ridiculous fee. I don’t respond well to arbitrary fees! And yes, I’ll be paying the card off each and every month, all the while reaping the rewards for purchasing items I was going to buy anyway.

To my way of thinking, that’s free money!

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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I agree 100% with you. I have been fortunate enough recently to start getting rid of debt myself, though I am acquiring a house soon, my money drips have deminished (loan companies, yearly fee high interest credit cards, and unneccesary wants). Sure, putting it on a card and paying it out sounds good, but then you have waisted your time shopping because now you are paying 9 to 20% (or more)more than you would have. I’m glad you hate debt. Keep the good stuff coming

Jen @ NextRichGirl

This is such frustrating news. The credit card companies certainly get you one way or the other, don’t they? I’ve been credit card free for the past six years because I got myself into trouble with them and had to claw my way back out. It’s amazing how tough it is to live without a credit card, but I certainly don’t think that it’s worth a $99 annual fee for the convenience!


There is absolutely no reason that a person HAS to have a credit card — not unless they “have to have” debt, in which case there are more serious problems.

You DO NOT need a credit card to rent a car or hotel room — and why this is repeated so often I do not know except that the credit card companies would love you to think that. Debit/check cards can do that just as well and can also be used online. Most even come with the same consumer protections if you tell the retailer to run it as credit.

As for the fees, it was only a matter of time till they realized they could get away with it. And with new credit card legislation coming into effect next year, the pressure on their end is up since they will be no doubt making less (and no matter how much anyone makes, they rarely want to make less). Of course, the credit card companies DO make money even on so-called “deadbeats” because they charge the retailer with every transaction. However, it’s not nearly the same amount they make from those who carry balances and incur additional fees.

My advice is to try going without a credit card. Studies show that those using credit cards are more likely to spend more money than if they used cash or even debit cards — so you’re not always getting rewards for stuff you’d buy anyhow. Moreover, these companies are snakes and even if you do everything right, you may still get bit. You may win in the end, but will it be worth your time and trouble?


“Have to have” — no, of course not. But life is a bit easier if you do, at least it is for me. I don’t like that hotels, gas stations, car rental agencies, et al place a large hold on the funds in my checking account when I use a debit card at these places. I’ve had as much as one thousand dollars held at a car rental agency, only later finding out when funds were not available at an ATM. That’s why I carry a credit card, the rewards are fluff — nice fluff, but fluff nonetheless.

Credit Card Chaser

The 2 cards you featured in the article are potentially great choices. I personally have the American Express TrueEarnings card and have been really pleased with it. The one downside of the card though for some people is that while there is no annual fee for the card they do require you to have a Costco membership so that is kind of like an annual fee if you had not planned to have a Costco membership AND more importantly the card gives you cash back in the form of money to spend only at Costco so while I love Costco because they have great prices on pretty much everything if someone does not like Costco then its important to know how the card doles out its cash back ahead of time.

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