5 Clear Signs You Need a Credit Card

Credit cards get a bad rep. We blame them for everything: debt, inflation, gambling, alcoholism, Satan, cancer, and probably The Phantom Menace. When our children crack open history books 200 years from now, after their lunch of irradiated cockroaches and post-apocalyptic sewer sludge, “Hitler” and “Credit Card” will be in the same chapter. But for all that, credit cards do have their place. And as much as we dread Amex, there are times when a credit card becomes…dare I say it…a positive necessity. Here’s when:


Credit cards on a table. next to a bank book

"You want cash? As in the those paper things? What, do I look like an antique dealer?"


1. A Plane Delay Makes You Dial Suicide Prevention

Before I got a credit card, I used to have a breakdown every time my flight got canned. Unless I’d wadded emergency cash in my underwear (go ahead and rob me now), I sometimes couldn’t afford a hotel room.

Have you ever spent a night at LAX or Heathrow? Biblical passages about hell don’t even come close. And if you do make it to daybreak, don’t count on showing up for work; not unless your colleagues are fond of rumpled suits and cro-magnon behaviour.

A business man, or just about anyone in sales, can tell you the value of that plastic card. Travel often enough, and you will be in a situation where (1) you’ve run out of foreign currency, and (2) you urgently need a room. So if you have to fly around and close deals, always keep a credit card handy. A decent hotel room and night’s rest make all the difference in business.


Sleeping on airport benches

"That's it, we're charging rent. Also, I think the one on the left has been dead for a week."


2. You Freak Out When Entertaining

I’m not just talking about dates; I’m talking about entertaining clients.

When I was working freelance, I didn’t have a corporate card or a company’s petty cash. Entertaining clients came out of my own pocket; something you can relate to if you’re self-employed. There were months when, to preserve my all-important cash flow, meetings were based on budget rather than location. Restaurants in town were too expensive, so clients were met in Jurong, Bedok, or places that make your GPS go “Lol! Wtf!”

Closing a deal requires your full attention. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the restaurant bill, or by how far away the next meeting is. A credit card takes your mind off all of that; and if you use it responsibly, the deals you close will more than make up for that monthly repayment.


Unhappy man at a restaurant table

"My good humour ended with my entertainment budget. Which was just after the salad."


3. You Need to Visit Stores For Everything

There are some purchases that make more sense online. Sites like E-Bay and Amazon are discount havens; compare their prices to brick & mortar (B&M) stores, and you’ll see a difference. Websites eliminate the middleman, which translates to lower costs.

Before I got my credit card (and subsequent E-Bay obsession), I bought everything in a store. Including boxed software, which has never been less than two versions behind. As a student, I didn’t have access to certain textbooks, because I relied entirely on Kinokuniya or the now defunct Borders to bring them in. A credit card would have put an end to all that, and saved me some valuable study time.


Crowded shopping mall (Takashimaya)

Not pictured or present: Oxygen


4. You Actually Use the Hotel Room Safe

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more pathetic than using the hotel room safe. Even hotels don’t take them seriously. The last one I used could only accept one combination, which was “000″ followed by dropping it on its corner.

But I didn’t have a credit card, and I put all my cash into it. Since it was only marginally harder to break open than a boiled egg, the money wasn’t stolen for one whole night.

In my defence: the other alternative was to walk in Kaohsiung alleys with bulging pockets, like a cow wandering around a steakhouse. While Singapore might be safe, other countries aren’t police states may not be. I could resort to alternatives like traveller’s cheques, but that’s an added inconvenience; a credit card is hassle free. I just walk into any shop in the world, and buy something. And if I’m robbed, I just limp to the nearest phone and have the card cancelled.

Safety, and convenience.


Hotel room safe with numbers

"…and to open, either enter the 8 digit security code, or slap it on the top."


5. Your Accounts Make People Ask “Who Gave the Monkey a Crayon”?

Credit card companies track purchases to near perfection. Because banks are notoriously picky, they’ll spot all the little buys you missed.

If you’re still in the “pen and a cheap notebook” school of accounting, it’s time for an upgrade. When you make and track purchases via credit cards, you’ve got a whole army of accountants working for you. Balding, bespectacled types whose idea of fun is Sudoku on a Sunday morning. Apart from saving you a few hours, their records can be used as evidence against fraud, to track your prime expenditures, and to draw attention to leaks in your budget.

It beats staring at your scribbling and saying “I spent most of the money on Doritos. I think.”


Wall full of scribbled notes

"About your accounting methods. It's not the level of…detail…that's the issue."


But Aren’t Credit Cards Dangerous?

Yeah, but so are Q-Tips if you shove them in too deep. As with most things, the golden rule applies: Don’t go too far and you’ll be fine. Credit cards have a lot of tangible benefits; not using them for fear of bankruptcy is like hand-sawing everything because power tools are dangerous.

Use sites like SmartCredit when picking a card. This aggregates information on all the cards, so you can be sure to pick one that fits.

Image Credits:
MeddygarnetObvio171Rolling Okiebenoit.mortgatUggBoy, FoxtongueWonderlane

How has NOT having a credit card ever inconvenienced you? Comment and let us know! 

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.

More From MoneySmart

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Noy to visit Canada, Japan
    Noy to visit Canada, Japan

    President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Canada in May and Japan in June to meet with his counterparts and promote Philippine interests. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino accepted the invitation from Canadian Governor General David Johnston to make a state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9. Tied to this trip is the President’s one-day working visit to the United States to meet with potential investors and with the local Filipino community in Chicago, Valte …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

  • Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th
    Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th

    Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, while the Philippines placed 90th, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday. Switzerland was followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada. The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012. …

  • Asean leaders want binding sea code with China
    Asean leaders want binding sea code with China

    Southeast Asian leaders will seek to speed up plans for a binding code of conduct with China governing behavior in the disputed South China Sea at a summit next week, Malaysia’s foreign minister said Friday. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said a massive flow of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to neighboring countries will also be discussed at the two-day summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which starts Monday. Anifah said leaders are expected to raise concerns …

  • S&P keeps Phl investment grade rating
    S&P keeps Phl investment grade rating

    Standard & Poor’s yesterday kept its credit rating on the Philippines on expectations the country would be able to further improve its debt metrics. The country enjoys a “BBB” rating from the debt watcher with a stable outlook. The grade, awarded to the Philippines in May last year, is a notch above the minimum investment grade (BBB-). S&P said the Philippines’ external position should remain strong with increasing foreign exchange reserves and low external debt burden. …

  • GMA takes bail plea to SC
    GMA takes bail plea to SC

    Detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has elevated to the Supreme Court (SC) her plea to be allowed to post bail in her remaining plunder case that was rejected by the Sandiganbayan. In a 38-page petition filed last Thursday afternoon, Arroyo cited her deteriorating health in asking the high court to reverse the rulings of the Sandiganbayan’s first division in October last year and last February denying her bail motion in the case involving the P366-million Philippine Charity …

  • Mild quake hits Surigao
    Mild quake hits Surigao

    A magnitude 3.2 earthquake hit parts of Surigao del Norte yesterday, but no damage or injury was reported, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options