7 Signs It's Time to Break Up With Your Credit Cards

By Aaron Crowe. Last updated 20 May 2016. 0 comments

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which Wise Bread receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Any opinions expressed are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, endorsed, or provided by the issuer.


Just as unresolved conflicts can lead to a breakup in a relationship, there are signs of credit card misuse that should signal it's time to break up with your credit cards — at least for awhile.

Here are seven signs to look out for.

1. You Can Only Afford the Minimum Payment

Prioritizing bills isn't easy. After paying the rent, grocery, water and electricity bills, and other basic necessities of life, it can be difficult to pay off a credit card bill, too. If you can only afford the minimum payment on the credit card, then you probably have some spending problems.

Making only the minimum payment on a credit card will keep your account up to date and in good standing, and that's a good start. But it will take years to knock down the balance, and even longer if you continue charging purchases on the card.

Here's an example: If you owe $5,000 on a credit card at 18% interest, paying the minimum amount due each month (assuming 3% of balance) will take you over 16 years to pay it off. Along with paying the $5,000 principal, you'll have paid $4,698.46 in interest. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates)

If instead you pay $200 each month, that will cut down the repayment time to under 3 years, at which point you’d have paid $1,313.96 in interest.

2. You Play the Transfer Balance Shell Game

One way to get out of paying interest on a credit card balance is to transfer it to a 0% APR balance transfer card. You can save thousands of dollars in interest, but usually only for one year during the introductory period. After that, you're back to paying interest again.

If you're constantly moving credit card balances to 0% APR cards so you can avoid paying interest, it's a sign your credit card spending is out of control.

It's one thing if you're using that year of no interest payments to pay off a credit card. But if you're still running up the balance, you're getting nowhere in paying off the debt. (See also: What You Must Know Before Making a Balance Transfer)

3. You're Maxed Out

Your credit cards have credit limits, and if you're close to those limits it can be difficult to extend more credit when you really need it — such as in an emergency.

Maxing out your credit cards can also hurt your credit score because your credit utilization ratio — the percentage of available credit being used — should be under 30% for a top credit score.

4. You Make Impulse Buys on Credit

Credit cards are easy to pull out of a wallet or purse to pay for anything, from a candy bar or drink to a down payment on a new car. If you're using credit cards to buy anything you want whenever you see it, such as a sweater you see in a store window or an ice cream cone on a hot day out, then you're more likely to rack up debt faster without realizing it.

Paying cash for such purchases can help you control spending. If you don't have the cash on you, then you won't be able to make the impulse buy when it pops up.

5. You Buy Things You Can't Afford

Along with impulse buys, credit card users can get in over their heads in debt by charging every expense — including ones they can't really afford.

If you're using cash to buy groceries, for example, you're less likely to get that extra box of cookies if you don't have enough money with you. But with a credit card, the sky's the limit. (See also: Credit Cards That Offer Cash Back for Groceries)

6. You Hide Debt From Your Spouse

If getting the mail makes you anxious because your spouse may see your credit card bill, you have a debt problem and need to tackle it together.

Hiding debt from your spouse can also hurt your relationship, so working together on this can solve two problems simultaneously.

7. You Have Credit Cards From Every Store

Store-branded credit cards can be enticing at the checkout counter. They often offer discounts of 20% or more on purchases that day, and approval is almost automatic.

But they also have high interest rates of up to 29%, setting you up for more interest payments if you don't pay the balance in full each month. Store credit cards also offer an easy excuse to go shopping. (See also: Store Credit Cards That Don’t Suck)

And since a store's credit card can only be used at the issuing business — you can only use a Nordstrom card at Nordstrom stores, for example — you'll need credit cards from every store you shop at if you want to take advantage of the deals they offer.

What to Do

There are things you can do if you spot any of the above signs in your financial life. To recap, here are a few things to try before using your credit cards again:

  • Seek credit counseling. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice on how to find a reputable credit counseling agency.
  • Put your credit cards away and pay with cash only.
  • Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards and tackle the debt.
  • Ask your credit card company for a lower rate.
  • Transfer balances to a 0% APR card and work on paying off the principal within a year.

Have you ever broken up with your credit cards? How long was the split?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Guest's picture

Here's another big reason (from someone who pays their bills on time) - when they won't support download to Quicken anymore. Macy's has done this and so I terminated it. Target Red Card is having problems, but I'd hate to lose the 5% discount.