As we move farther and farther down the road toward a cashless society, consumers can use credit cards to pay for nearly everything, everywhere these days. But just because you can doesn’t mean you necessarily should, warns credit reporting agency Experian.
Outstanding card debt has now hit its highest point ever, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to the Federal Reserve. And 86 percent of Americans who have or had credit card debt said they regret it, according to a recent report by NerdWallet.
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Here are six expenses Experian advises you to not put on plastic.
1. Taxes. If you get slammed with an unexpected tax bill this April, it could be tempting to pay Uncle Sam via Visa or Mastercard. Not so fast: The Internal Revenue Service will charge a merchant processing fee of anywhere of up to 2 percent and, if you use third-party filing software, you’ll pay even more. And why pay interest charges of taxes owed? Instead, consider a short-term personal loan or ask the IRS for a payment plan; the government interest rate is usually only around 0.5 percent, according to Experian.
2. College tuition. This is one for the books: Don’t ever pay for education with credit, as the interest on student loans is nearly always lower. In addition, large charges such as tuition fees will up your credit utilization ratio, which can result in a ding to your credit score. What’s more, colleges and universities often add a processing fee of up to 3 percent for card payments.
3. Mortgage payments. Most home-loan lenders won’t let you pay your mortgage by credit card but there are plenty of third parties who will gladly help with that — for a huge fee, of course, says Experian. And if you don’t pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month, you’ll compound your mortage debt and eat up a lot of your available credit — again impacting credit scores.