How To Live A Full and Happy Life Without Credit Cards

Think back to a time when you didn’t have any credit cards.

Life was simpler, wasn’t it? Buy something and pay for it once, never worrying about interest charges or falling behind.

It can be that way again. All you need to do is approach the world with the same level of rationality as you did in the past.

Here’s how.

Use A Debit Card For Hotels, Airfare And Rental Cars

My clients always use travel as a major reason why life is terrible without credit cards.

They’re shocked when I let them know that I routinely use a debit card for all of my travel-related expenses. Airline tickets and hotel rooms are particularly easy when it comes to debit cards, and even car rental companies have come around in the past few years.

One thing to know, however, is that the car rental company or hotel may place a hold on several hundred dollars’ of your checking account funds.

Some car rental companies that accept debit cards are:

  • Dollar Rent-A-Car
  • Budget
  • Thrifty
  • Payless
  • Avis

Layaway For Retail Purchases

Layaway is the process by which you pay for a product over time, giving money to the retailer little by little. The retailer holds the product for you until it’s paid in full.

The benefit of layaway is that there’s usually very little cost associated with it. As opposed to credit cards that charge interest until the entire balance is paid off, the cost of buying something on layaway is usually less than $10.

Retailers offering layaway include:

  • Kmart
  • Sears
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Walmart
  • Marshall’s
  • TJ Maxx
  • Toys R Us

Love Your Debit Card

I’m a big fan of using a debit card for smaller purchases because it’s easier and more convenient than going to the bank to withdraw cash all the time.

If you’re worried about account security and unauthorized charges, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act limits your liability.


Budget By Planning Ahead

In the old days, Christmas Club and Vacation Club accounts were used heavily by people who wanted to engage in short-term savings for a defined purpose. As credit card use grew, however, these accounts fell largely out of favor.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use the same idea for your own savings goals.

If you’re looking to make a major purchase and don’t have the cash, just open up a savings account and attach it to your main checking account. Have your bank automatically transfer a small amount – even as little as $10 each week – into the savings account.

In no time at all, you’ll have the money saved for your purchase.

A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

All of the tactics for living without credit cards require that you go through your life with a certain level of planning.

Impulse purchases made without having cash at the ready are more difficult, and spur-of-the-moment vacations  happen only when the bank account is fat.

If it keeps you out of debt and worry-free when it comes to money, I think it’s well worth it.

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About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.