Credit Card Pitfalls: 10 Things You Should Never Charge

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Credit Card Traps

Personal finance gurus love credit cards. Provided you pay them off every month, they’re an almost guaranteed boon to most consumers thanks to their generous perks and rewards. But no matter how magical they may seem — it’s also worth mentioning that they have a dark side — there are just some purchases that you should never put on plastic.

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Health Insurance

Medical Bills

“Don't put (medical bills) on any kind of card that will then be charging you interest, because that's going to make the problem worse,” said Ruth Lande, the vice president of hospital relations at the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. Despite experts’ advice, Kaiser Health News reports that around 1 in 6 Americans are paying off medical or dental debt they put on a credit card.

Related: The Secret to Negotiating a Lower Medical Bill

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Down Payments

If you’re paying for a down payment with a credit card, then you shouldn’t be making the purchase — plain and simple. The only exception is if you’re paying for a down payment on a car and you’re 100% certain you can pay the bill before it accrues interest. And even then, it’s a risky move that the dealer likely won’t jive with.

Related: Watch Out for These Added Costs When Buying a House

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Things You Can’t Afford

Credit card companies have made it easier than ever to overspend. Without having to count cash, check your balance, or enter a pin, you can easily spend $10,000 in seconds. And if that’s $10,000 that you don’t have, then you’re screwed. Instead, only charge what you can afford, and pay your credit card bill in full every month.

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Everyone from financial experts to the Securities and Exchange Commission cautions against investing with a credit card. If you lose the money on the market and can’t pay it back, you’ll be stuck with high-interest debt. Plus, most investment firms won’t even let you buy stocks and bonds with a credit card, and those that do might be looking to scam you.

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Mortgage Payments and Rent

If you want to guarantee financial ruin, then try to put your mortgage payment on a credit card. You’ll be paying for not one but two types of interest. Suffice to say: you’ve got better options. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends calling your mortgage servicer to work something out and contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And we have similar advice for renters. Contact assistance programs, and as a last resort, consider taking out a loan.

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Cash Advances

A cash advance — a short-term loan offered by your credit card company — is almost always a bad idea because the fees are high (around 3% to 5%) and the interest rates are astronomical (as high as 36%). If you can swing it, a personal loan will offer far favorable terms.

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Startup Business Expenses

Since businesses take a while to be profitable, you shouldn’t rely on high-interest credit card debt to finance your venture. Rather, it’s better to go through more conventional channels and get a small business loan or crowdfund your operation.

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While some credit card companies will let you buy cryptocurrency, your purchase will likely be subject to considerable fees. For example, some companies treat cryptocurrency purchases like cash advances. And for the same reason you don’t want to invest with a credit card — you shouldn’t gamble with money you don’t have — you should also avoid crypto.