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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Payment Methods | Delayed Payment Options ]

Credit Card (Carrying A Balance)

Three word summary: don't do it.

Now for the more detailed explanation. :^) When you use a credit card to make equipment purchases, you get a number of benefits at no marginal cost to you, as I explain in this section. In fact, I recommend that individuals use credit cards for most purchases because of those benefits. That assumes, however, that you are going to pay off the bill, in full, when it comes due. As soon as you decide to let the bill slide without paying it, you are now using the credit card to borrow money, which is a very different way of using it than I discuss in the section on immediate payment.

I'm not going to go into an entire treatise on the evils of consumer credit card debt; you almost certainly already know all about this whether you use credit cards or not. The simple fact of the matter is that credit cards are the most expensive way around to borrow money, and many credit card users get stuck paying enormous amounts of interest when they use their plastic to buy items beyond their means. Do your best not to get yourself into this situation. It can be difficult to avoid for some shoppers.

I have a section where I discuss ideas for buying a PC when on a budget; I would strongly consider those ideas rather than purchasing equipment beyond your finances. A cheaper PC, or perhaps a used machine, may be sufficient to tide you over until you can afford a newer, faster unit. If you are going to go into debt to buy a computer, at least try to find a way to do it less expensively. If you own a home, a home equity line will be much less expensive than the regular rate on any credit card. If you qualify, explore financing or leasing. Virtually anything is cheaper than a regular credit card interest rate.

The only exception I would make to the above is that some credit cards now are being offered with very low introductory rates. Of course there's only one reason for these introductory rates: to try to trap you into a balance you cannot pay off when they later jack the rate up to something ridiculous. But you can get the best of the deal if you are careful with your finances are sure to pay off the bill before the rate is increased. As with all credit card use, don't attempt this unless you are confident of your ability to pay off the charges before the interest becomes oppressive.

Next: Financing and Leasing

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