What Is The Credit Card Culture?
Credit card culture describes our acceptance, use, and overall exuberance about credit cards. We are fascinated, obsessed, and, in some cases, addicted to our plastic little friend: The Credit Card. Credit cards offer convenience, trendiness, and status (so we think) to our ordinarily mundane lives. They are sexy, cutting edge, and the future. But is this rectangular piece of plastic really all that, or is it just a piece of plastic?
We are obsessed! Credit cards are quickly overtaking cash in nearly every aspect. People even have their emergency credit card! Credit cards are overtaking cash in nearly all transactions, and in some cases cash isn’t even accepted. Even an Apple Stores refused cash. Yes, they did it to enforce a two purchase per person rule, but it is a precursor of things to come!
Some might call this “progress” more-so than “obsession” but whatever it is, it is most certainly an increasing dependence, and it costs money.
Are credit cards convenient? On their face, they absolutely are! They are compact, fast, and accepted all over. But that is basically where the convenience ends. People tout the added security of people watching your account, and if you lose it, you don’t lose any money unlike cash. Credit cards create the need to have someone watching your account. We don’t need someone watching our wallet in our drawer as we sleep.
On the other hand, we’ve never had the problem of someone stealing our wallet and using our cash in Dubai to purchase a bunch of electronics. Additionally, when we purchase something with cash, we don’t have people trying to steal it in mid-air as we hand it to the cashier. We don’t receive emails of from people needing to inspect our wallets (phishing). The added benefit is that we don’t get charged a fee to use our cash, and we even get discounts buying everything cash!
The most convenient thing about cash is that after you have paid for something, it is yours, plain and simple. That sounds simple and convenient.
A huge and integral piece of the credit card culture mechanism is the commercials. You need commercials to enforce the idea of the culture. Cash is old, slow, and nerdy. If you use cash you are inconvenient and even selfish. These are the ideas that commercials try to use to create the credit card culture. You can see many of these themes in this seemingly lighthearted commercial below.
Credit cards can sometimes be seen as a status symbol. This edge is slowly coming off of the cards after the huge credit boom. Before, people would get credit cards, gold cards, platinum cards, and sometimes even the coveted black cards! These were seen as status symbols and sometimes still are. People flashed the cards with pride, with their ability to go into infinite debt! Marvelous!
The Face Behind The Mask
But what does it all really mean? Can a piece of plastic define how important you really are? More importantly, if a piece of plastic does define who you are, doesn’t that bother you? What are credit cards? They are a license to go into debt. They are a license, given to you by a bank, that demonstrates that you have the ability to go into debt. If that is a status symbol, then we appreciate our lack of status.
If having a piece of plastic that guarantees that you get to owe someone money plus interest is sexy, trendy, and convenient, then we apologize for slowing you down at the register. Us unsexy, untrendy, slow pokes will do our best to stay out of your way as we save our wealth.
We aren’t trying to disparage credit cards entirely. They absolutely have a place in the world, we just choose to not allow our world to revolve around them.
What about you, what are your thoughts, opinions, and experiences with credit cards? Did you notice the movement to try to establish a cool credit card culture?