How to Make Your Credit Card Less Useful

dog chewing credit card

I am sure at some time in our bill-paying lives each of us has stared at a lengthy itemization of a credit card statement and wondered, “How did I get so bound to a piece of plastic?” We try planning, we try limits. There are books, magazines, and even consultants on the issue. I’ve tried the simple solution of filling my wallet with cash. Yet those palm-sized, perfectly-proportioned wonders of technology are so easy to whip out

For those of you who have the same problem when it comes to that little piece of plastic in your wallet, here are five simple solutions for this “easy money” problem.

A common method is to freeze your card. Fill a coffee can with water, drop your card in, and gently place the can in the freezer. Actually, it might work better if you weren’t so gentle and placed the can in a puddle of spilled water. You wouldn’t have to just wait all afternoon for the block of ice in the can to melt (metal can’t go in the microwave), you’d have to defrost your whole freezer. Talk about planning And the choices – sacrifice the peas just to do some shopping, or make a run out to the convenience store for a block of ice and a cooler?

If you are looking to spread the joy around, you can give your credit card to your pet and let him use it as a chew toy. You’ll be amazed at how much fun he’ll have with it while helping you have second thoughts of ever using it. The old “my dog ate it” excuse didn’t work in school and it’s unlikely to work when you hand a mauled piece of plastic to the cashier. Not only will the credit card be unusable after he gets through with it, you’ll also save money by not needing to purchase a chew toy for him.

Turn your credit card over and see the strip on the back? You can always demagnetize it. If you run your magnet strip over a nice, neodymium magnet, you will easily lose the ability to scan and walk. This means no more self-check, no more instant cash. Each of those numbers is going to have to be punched in, and you will have to stand flushed and antsy as the cashier tries and tries again to get it right, and the people behind you give you dirty looks before they eventually move, muttering, to other lines. Who needs the attention?

Start tampering with your credit cards. By punching a hole in your name, or scratching off the signature bar, you can cause the cashier doubt at your identity. Who’s going to believe “Yeah, I just scratched up my signature spot so I’d be more reluctant to use my card?” No, this one is the perfect dis-utility. They’ll demand other payment. Heck, they might even confiscate your card for you.

If tampering just doesn’t seem to be enough to dissuade you from using your credit card, you can always take it a step further and destroy the card. While scissors come in handy and a shredder can do the job quite well, if you choose this method you might as well go all out and blend it:

No matter how many time you attempt to hand retailers a pile of plastic shreddings, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to leave the store with what you had hoped to purchase.

And when you’re really desperate, you could just call in and report your card stolen. This fix is temporary, however, as the company is usually too pleased to send you a new one and charge you for it. However, in a time of your greatest need, a card that is reported stolen won’t be authorized. They cancel your number, and you can mope away red-faced, and empty handed, hopefully without handcuffs.

Not everyone is rehabilitatable when it comes to managing credit card debt. Refer to this list when your will-power and self-esteem are low and when drastic measures are needed to keep your credit card use in line.

Image courtesy of chrisforsyth

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13 Responses to How to Make Your Credit Card Less Useful

  1. Michael says:

    I don’t really understand the point of this article. If you’re advocating destroying the card (meaning you don’t need it) then why not just close the account? Even if you destroy the card you can still use the number (especially online). If you don’t need it, close it.

  2. creditman says:

    It should be that simple, but it isn’t. Closing an account, especially if it is the oldest credit card you have, can adversely affect your credit rating which can cost you a lot in the future. Unless you have to pay to keep a credit card account open, it is rarely in your best interest to close the account.

  3. Mike D says:

    I’m not sure what the point of this article is? Credit cards are great if you know how to use them. If you are financially incompetent…don’t get a credit card.

  4. JMBIndy says:

    Creditman –

    If your purpose is to get out of debt 100% and stay that way, closing the account and destroying the card is the way to go.

    Credit ratings and score are overrated. Those numbers merely mean you are capable of incurring debt and paying it back in a timely fashion. If you live your life without debt, who cares about the credit rating?

    And as to the ways described in destroying the card itself, well it’s just a little creativity in action, that’s all.

  5. Credit Dude says:

    Actually it makes perfect sense to cut up the card but keep the account open, though I would suggest using the card for some type of automatic payment each month to keep it active.

    JMBIndy – We all need credit, unless you have enough money to buy your house outright? And even if you did, it likely wouldn’t be a wise decision. Credit scores are by no means overrated??!?!

  6. JMBIndy says:

    Credit Dude-

    Not all mortgage companies use a credit rating to determine if you’re worthy for a loan. There are companies that do old fashioned underwriting, which is how they did it in the “old days”, before the advent of the credit score. They research your financials and come to a conclusion on their own.

    Credit is only a way of life if you believe the myths….

  7. vsjhoc says:

    Credit ratings are taken into consideration for a lot of things that have little or nothing to do with debt. Do you own a car? Your insurer determines your premium partly by your credit record. Applying for a job? Potential employers may be interested in how you manage your money and if you are financially pressed. Security clearance? It’s the 2nd most important factor (after criminal record). Starting a small biz? Even if you have all the capital or have lots of angel investors, you might need some license or bonding or insurance. Guess what they look at. So we really can’t escape the importance of having good credit.

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  9. jrochest says:

    Actually, the ‘freeze the card’ thing doesn’t work that well: if you run the block of ice under hot water for about 10 minutes, it melts.

    Sad, but true, I know this from personal experience.

    And yes, destroying the card is better than closing the account.

  10. Jo says:

    jrochest, I agree with you as well. To reiterate, many say to put the card on ice. That’s a lost cause; it’s called hot water.

    If my cards aren’t cut up, they’re locked up in my safe deposit box at my credit union. That box has already paid itself off by me not spending more on my cards that are paid off.

  11. Carol says:

    Re credit cards in freezer: I did this, and dh threw cards out during a cleaning frenzy. I told him cards were in there, but he swears he didn’t know. I didn’t want to write “credit cards” on the container cause I read thieves search through your freezer looking for drugs and cash.

  12. Cindy M says:

    I don’t give advice and have never had much trouble staying out of debt. Dumb as it sounds, it’s helped me to just stay out of the stores as much as possible and stop “needing” so much. I quit letting the media dictate my personal daily life and driving me crazy. It’s amazing what you really don’t “need” at all. And it’s so neat not having much of anything on the credit card when the bill comes. It’s helpful to quit taking the local newspaper so you don’t have the ads staring at you to provoke you to spend (read a local newspaper on line). I quit magazine subscriptions (I can get them at the library but don’t care to anymore anyway). I don’t miss the paper. I don’t have cable TV and if I have the urge to watch a movie, it’s one I’ve reserved at the library or I find a free movie on the net. Most of the time the TV set is off. I stay busy in what little “free” time I have working in the yard or messing around my own home, God knows there’s plenty to do if I’d just do it, ha-ha. I just don’t care to jump in my car as much as I used to for no really good reason. I make myself walk to the store if I think I really “have” to have some staple items, the walk does me good and I usually don’t come back with much. It’s so great when all that “stuff” loses its appeal.

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