What's the craziest thing you've charged to a credit card?

A car? A tattoo? A funeral? A CardRatings.com survey reveals what people have paid for by plastic.

By QuinStreet Feb 12, 2014 12:25PM

This post comes from Richard Barrington at partner site CardRatings.com.


Have you ever done anything crazy with a credit card?


CardRatings.com on MSN MoneyMost Americans have, according to a new study conducted by Op4G on behalf of CardRatings.com. From weddings to weed, people charge the darnedest things.


Creditcard Computer © Stockbyte/SuperStockThis would be mildly amusing if it were not for the tremendous cost. According to the Federal Reserve, credit card balances have been rising over the past three years, and now total nearly $857 billion.


Adding to the problem is the fact that credit card rates never fell the way that mortgage rates did. The average consumer with a credit card balance pays 12.89 percent on that balance, meaning that Americans are paying in the neighborhood of $110 billion a year in credit card interest.


Is it worth it? When you look at some of the things people buy, you have to wonder. Op4G surveyed 2,004 adults to find out what was the craziest thing they had ever purchased with a credit card.


A majority of respondents -- 57 percent -- admitted to having made a credit card purchase they now think was a little crazy, though of course crazy is in the eye of the beholder. Here are some of the questionable purchases people made that seemed to make sense at the time:

  1. Adult entertainment. Lust can put you in a frame of mind to make foolish financial decisions -- 6.7 percent of survey respondents reported having used a credit card to pay for adult entertainment. The percentage was even higher among men, who are about four times more likely than women to use a credit card for this purpose.
  2. Scalped concert or sporting event tickets. "Scalped" may be an outdated expression, and people in that business prefer to be called third-party ticket resellers. However, when you layer credit card interest on top of the premium that tickets to must-see events often sell for, you might well feel that you've been scalped. More than 6 percent of survey respondents reported that they had used their credit cards for this purpose.
  3. A car. An automobile is often a necessity, but there are better options than paying for it by credit card, something 5 percent of survey respondents admitted to doing. The average four-year car loan rate is about 4.4 percent, or just over one-third of the typical credit card rate.
  4. College tuition. What's so crazy about the fact that 4.7 percent of respondents reported having used their credit cards to pay for college tuition? After all, a college education can be an excellent investment. However, you diminish the return on any investment if you pay too much for it, and a credit card is about the most expensive way you can pay for tuition. Student loan interest rates are typically much lower than credit card rates, and there are other forms of financial aid as well. Go to www.fafsa.gov to research your college financing options, and using a credit card should be at the very bottom of the list. (If you have a rewards card and the cash to pay off the balance before you accrue interest, though, this might be a smart move - but only if you pay it off.)
  5. Tattoos. It might seem reasonable enough that 3.3 percent of respondents used their plastic for ink -- after all, a tattoo is forever. Unfortunately, for too many Americans, so is credit card debt.
  6. A wedding. Yes, it might be the most important day of your life, but adding a fresh new chunk of debt is not the best way to start out your marriage. Nonetheless, 2.6 percent of respondents have used credit cards to finance a wedding.
  7. Bail. Using a credit card for bail money, something 2 percent of respondents reported doing, might seem preferable to spending the night in the slammer. Just make sure that running up credit card debt does not simply compound whatever problems landed you in trouble in the first place.
  8. A funeral. You can't blame people who find themselves caught in a position of having to pay for a funeral by credit card, which 2 percent of survey respondents reported doing. However, you can blame the deceased. A funeral is something everyone should provide for as they get older. Funeral homes routinely make it very easy to set up a burial trust for this purpose.

Finally, one survey respondent shared the fact he had once bought marijuana with a credit card. Traditionally, the neighborhood dealer does not come equipped with a swipe machine -- among other things, they tend to shy away from that kind of paper trail. However, with marijuana now sold legally in a few states, this payment option is probably becoming more common. Just don't compound your debt by also charging the pizza and Twinkies to soothe the munchies.


More from CardRatings.com:

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

16Comments
Feb 12, 2014 2:39PM
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what a crap article.... no kidding!
Feb 12, 2014 2:58PM
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Stupdi article. I have paid tuition and for a funeral on a credit card.  Paid the card off without incurring interest.
Feb 12, 2014 3:42PM
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I have done several of these charges from time to time.  But where in the credit card charge guidelines does it say the a charge has to result in interest costs?  I ALL ways pay off my cards in full on or before they are due.  This is a great way to wrack up affinity points/cash back/miles whatever.  Where else could I get a college to give me a 2% discount on tuition?
Feb 12, 2014 2:46PM
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Most dealerships will not let you put the whole car on a credit card.  It give the buyer, an ability to drive the car for 30 days and then return it.  SOme states will not allow it at all.
Feb 12, 2014 9:11PM
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I bought a used car with a trade-in, and the balance of about $3300.00 I put on my card. I paid it in full using savings when the bill came, but I got an extra $3300 worth of points on my card. (on which I pay in full every month and have never paid an interest charge or late fee) We used the extra points towards buying Christmas gifts.
-Worked for us!
Feb 12, 2014 4:35PM
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"Blame the deceased"?! What a tacky thing to say! Not everyone who dies is an elderly person, who was aware their death was approaching and had time, and money, to plan for it. 

Feb 12, 2014 4:38PM
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What's wrong with using a charge card if you pay it off before the interest comes due, or if the perks (interest rate, cash back, etc.) you get through your credit card make it better than getting a conventional loan?  I used a CC to pay for half a car, because it took a week longer to pull together the rest of my cash and pay it off.  Meanwhile, I got the points on my card for using it for a big purchase.
Feb 12, 2014 3:09PM
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A $350,000.00 80 foot yacht for someone else, form which the credit card company gave me a 4% rebate of $14,000.00 towards my balance, which was 0. The person paid off the balance the next month -  They more than had the money, they were just helping me get some extra cash for a favor I had done their son in VietNam.
Feb 13, 2014 1:41PM
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Bought a new travel trailer with my airmiles credit card, then turned around and paid it off the next week with my savings.

 

Scored me 12k airmiles which is halfway to a free plane ticket!  Don't worry Hawaii, Im coming!

Feb 12, 2014 7:28PM
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When we moved we put all the expenses on my credit card.  All the moving charges and all the new stuff we bought for the house including a kitchen remodel.  With the points I was able to fly out my daughter and grandson to see the new house.  I have never paid a penny of interest on my credit card for over ten years.

Feb 12, 2014 3:08PM
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The crazies thing I have charged is a new roof on my credit union card. 5.75% interest rate cannot be beat. It would have cost me more to refinance the house or take an equity loan to do it.
Feb 12, 2014 2:58PM
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The CRAZIEST thing I've charged was a 1st class plane ticket.

 

 

I had a seat in coach and it only cost me 59.00 + tax.  Then this TEABlLLY plopped his fat a$$ in the seat next to mine and wanted to talk politics...I called the steward over and asked if I could upgrade and that I would pay ANYTHING to get out of there.  The 1st class seat ended up costing 1600.00...WORTH EVERY PENNY.

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