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My credit union offers a VISA debit card. It does everything a credit card can do, except get us into debt. We can pay bills by telephone, we can order by mail or online, pay for clothes or groceries, whatever. It looks just like a credit card, too, so there is no more need to be embarrassed using it than using a credit card. I don't know if we would get any kind of frequent flyer advantage, but I prefer knowing we CAN'T run up debt. - RB
For years my husband and I have used this plan which works well for us.
First, we use our "United frequent flyer Visa Card, to earn free tickets or upgrades for every dollar spent as well as miles flown.
While we pay a yearly $60.00 fee it is worth it to us. We charge just about everything, any place that accepts Visa ... airline tickets, car rental, hotel/motel, groceries, utilities, telephone (some do), doctor/dentist, car repairs, tuition's, restaurants, replacement appliances, entertainment, etc., nothing more than we would have spent using checks or cash.
Tip: You can telephone companies to pay monthly bills using your Visa, thereby saving on postage.
Secondly, we handle each charge with the thought in mind that the bill must be paid-in-full each month. Our thinking is, it is the same as spending cash but with a paper trail of receipts. There is no interest to pay when paid each month.
Thirdly, all money is (direct or indirectly) deposited into the checking account. For "pocket cash" we write a check and cash it ... you have a record of how much out-of-pocket expense you incur. The money is in the bank to pay the bill when it arrives.
The bill averages out each month with normal expenses, but there are times when unexpected things come up, and you can make a mental note of this so you are not surprised when the bill comes in.
When the bill comes in you can check the charges and total the various categories of charges so you can see exactly where your money is going.
If you can control your spending and are not a credit card addict, this can work. A second credit card (with no fees attached) can be useful in case you make a purchase you don't want to pay off at the end of the month. Remember, if you don't pay the entire balance, you pay interest on the entire amount owed plus the new charges ... EXPENSIVE!
Syd Barr, Dunkirk, MD
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