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Celebrate 'Shred Your Credit Card Day'

Got a creative way to kill a card? Want to share how you got out of debt? Do it on video.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 17, 2011 12:25PM

Planning to ditch a credit card? Doing so creatively may win you a prize.

Lending Club and Perk Street Financial are sponsoring the "Shred Your Credit Card" contest. It's a three-step process -- and you get to be evil if you want:

  • Make a video of yourself destroying a credit card in a creative or truly fiendish way, or of you destroying a credit card application. You could also just tell the story of how you became debt-free.
  • Submit the video to ShredYourCreditCard.com.
  • Get folks to vote for you via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

The prizes are worth the effort: Weekly $50 prizes are being given out through the end of January, and those with the most votes will vie for a grand prize of $1,000 and second-place prizes of $300. They'll be announced on Jan. 31, which is "Shred Your Credit Card Day."

Those prizes, incidentally, come in the form of ... Visa gift cards. Ahem.

I can think of several reasons to want to kill a card:

  • You have too many of them.
  • You've paid off the one with the most usurious rate and want it to die a slow, horrible death.
  • You can't trust yourself with credit and realize that debit-only is the best option for you. (Although you'd better watch yourself there, too, lest you incur overdraft fees.)
I'll probably enjoy watching the videos. But I won't be making one.

It's in the way that you use it

A credit card is not evil. It's an inanimate object. It's a tool. You can use an axe to cut wood or you can use it to become an axe murderer. Credit cards can be very useful, or they can ruin you.

In fact, I think you need one plus a spare. As I noted in "Why you need TWO credit cards," you could be in a world of hurt if, say, you were traveling and your only card got canceled due to a security breach.

The card I use most often did get canceled back in spring 2009 when hackers stole credit information from a local business. Fortunately I wasn't traveling -- just embarrassed when a sandwich shop told me my Visa had been declined. (A letter telling me the card had been canceled showed up two days later. Thanks, guys.)

If you really want to cancel a credit card, by all means do so. Just remember that in some emergencies they can be darned useful things to have. Twice in my life I've had family medical emergencies that required me to fly out of state on a few hours' notice.

In the case of my daughter's nearly fatal illness, I stayed in the hospital room for more than two months. Being able not only to fly from Alaska to Seattle but also to pay for food and other expenses was absolutely vital.

Not everyone has enough in checking to use a debit card in this way. Imagine having to say, "Sorry, I know Dad's dying but I can't afford a plane ticket just now -- give him my best."

I'll be taking a long trip this spring, nearly four weeks on a different continent. Travelers checks will play a role, but so will credit cards. Two of them, just in case.


Donna Freedman blogs at Smart Spending and Surviving and Thriving.


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1Comment
May 14, 2011 6:12PM
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Hi Donna,

I teach the Ramsey course, and have helped folks cut up many a credit card.  But this essay gives the most sensible rundown on the rationale for having access to a credit card that I have read.  I have the same philosophy, which comes from a lifetime of business travel.  A rarely used credit card is a handy thing to have.  And since MLW and I have been debt free for 3 years, I care little about my FICO score, since we don't borrow money.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.
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