What Not to Buy With a Credit Card

7 of the worst purchases you could make...

author image-chloe
By Chloe Dickenson
Updated on Thursday 17 August 2023

A woman paying for something with her credit card

While the only person in charge of deciding what you should and shouldn’t buy with your credit card is you, it can be good to get a second opinion when it comes to the smartest way to use your credit card.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the things you should not buy with your credit card. Ultimately, the decision to buy or not to buy falls in your hands, but hopefully our advice will be well-received and you’ll think twice next time when you’re shopping online and you want to put every purchase on your credit card.

Keep some of these in mind and avoid negatively affecting your credit score by putting purchases on your credit card that you don’t necessarily need.

What should you not buy with a credit card?

Of course, it’s not just online purchases that you need to be careful of when buying things with your credit card; there are plenty of other things that you should avoid using credit card payments for.

Take a look at just a handful of things you should not buy with a credit card below.

1. Student loans/tuition

Student loans and tuition fees are one of the worst things you can buy with a credit card. This is because the amount of interest you’ll pay on your student debt will be substantial when paying with a credit card.

Interest rates on things like student loans are already extortionate, but if you attempt to pay for them with a credit card, you’ll likely find that the interest rates are some of the highest APRs around.

Furthermore, many student loan providers don’t even offer credit card repayments on loans, so it’s best avoiding it altogether anyway.

You might like: How to Budget at Uni - A Guide for Students

2. Medical bills

Medical bills are another purchase you should avoid paying for with credit cards.

While this point will largely only apply to readers in the US, it’s still something to bear in mind even in places like the UK where you may need to pay for private healthcare on occasions.

Credit cards should only ever be used for payment of medical bills if you have the money to pay off the bills immediately - otherwise, if you just let the interest build up over time if you can’t afford to pay it off straight away, you’ll be racking up much more repayment due to interest than necessary.

Learn more about interest rates in our two-part guides:

3. Wedding purchases

Paying for things for your wedding on a credit card isn’t advisable for numerous reasons.

First of all, if you’ve set a budget for the amount of money you want to spend on your wedding, it can be much harder to keep track of all your purchases if you’re putting some things on your credit card.

Secondly, you’ll likely be starting your married life with a hefty amount of debt that needs repaying if you put all your wedding purchases on a credit card.

If possible, it’s a much better idea to have a separate wedding fund and save up before your big day, instead of racking up a tonne of debt by using your credit card.

4. Mortgages

If you were to pay for your mortgage with a credit card, you would essentially be borrowing money from one “loan” to pay for another and that certainly doesn’t make much financial sense.

Not to mention the ridiculously substantial fees and interest that you’d be paying; it’s just best to avoid it altogether.

Read more: What Credit Score Do You Need for a Mortgage?

5. Cars

While it’s not always the case, oftentimes car dealerships themselves would advise against purchasing a car on your credit card; largely for their own reasons. Essentially, the car dealer will likely have to pay a transaction fee if you use your credit card to buy a car from them, so they’d much rather save on those fees and have you pay for it directly.

Of course, that’s really a purely selfish reason on behalf of the car dealer, but it’s still not a good idea to use your credit card to buy a car anyway. An expensive item such as a car will likely take you a long time to pay back, so weigh up your other financial options before you commit to purchasing.

You might like: The Best Way to Finance a New Car

6. Luxury goods

Speaking of expensive things you shouldn’t buy with a credit card, any type of luxury good purchase should be avoided where possible.

Using your credit card to buy expensive things like designer handbags and shoes, for example, gives you the illusion that you can afford these items, when in fact you’ll only have to pay the money back, with added interest.

When you have a credit card, you’re often filled with the idea that you can afford higher-price items, when in fact you can’t. Be smart and avoid uncomfortable and unnecessary repayments and only purchase the things you actually need.

7. Drinks on a night out

While you might think that buying drinks on a night out with your credit card is harmless enough, it’s actually not the best idea.

It’s likely that if you’re a few pints in and you’re simply swiping your credit card for every round of drinks, it’s going to add up in no time. Not only that, but you’ll also be paying interest on your purchases, often when you can’t really afford to and aren’t really supposed to be spending your money on non-essential purchases.

Purchasing drinks on a big night out with cash is much more advisable as it allows you to keep track of your spending and limits any unnecessary big splurges.

As you can see, while credit cards may seem great on the surface for purchasing high-ticket items, you also need to be aware of some of the things you shouldn't really buy with a credit card. Save yourself the aggravation and only use credit purchases for the things you really need to buy.

Head on over to our guide on the Best Things to Buy With a Credit Card to learn about some of the smartest ways of using one. Alternatively, take a look at our related articles below for further information and advice.

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