The Truth About Credit Card 'Perks'
By Dave Ramsey
Author, The Total Money Makeover
Money man Dave Ramsey pulls from his professional experience to answer your financial concerns.
The Lure of Credit Cards With Airline Miles
I’m a senior in college, and my roommate just got a credit card that features airline miles. He wants me to get one, too, so we can take a trip together at the end of the year. What do you think about this idea?
This is a bad idea on so many different levels. First, you’re close to graduation and beginning your real life. You don’t want to start out with a bunch of credit card debt hanging over your head.
Second, have you seen the restrictions on airline miles lately? Jupiter has to align with Mars while you’re standing on one leg to cash in on those things. It’s ridiculous! Plus, statistics from Consumer Reports show that 78 percent of all airline miles are never redeemed. What does this mean? It means in most cases people end up with no cool trip and a bunch of debt.
I’m not against going to nice places and having fun, and you probably deserve to celebrate a little after finishing college. But going into debt for it is a really bad idea.
Just save up and pay cash for a trip, Tim. Today, many debit cards have airline miles associated with them. So there’s no reason to take a chance with credit cards.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
My husband is 31 years old and has been offered long-term disability insurance through his employer. It only costs $25 a month, but we’re trying hard to live on a budget and get out of debt. Is this coverage worth it?
Long-term disability insurance is a fantastic buy. It’s inexpensive, and in return it will pay you about 60 to 70 percent of his salary if something bad happens and he becomes disabled. That’s not a bad deal for just $300 a year.
Statistics show that a man in his early thirties is 12 times more likely to become disabled than to die before the age of 65. Everyone needs to have long-term – not short-term – disability insurance.
Hopefully, you’ll never find yourselves in a situation where you have to use this type of policy. But in the event that something awful does happen, it can help save you from financial ruin!
My father-in-law is telling us we should apply for an interest-only loan when we buy a house and then pay extra on the principle. What do you think about this idea?
Interest-only mortgages are horrible. Stay away from them!
Lots of folks get into these traps by promising themselves they’ll pay extra on the principle. But according to FDIC statistics, 97 percent don’t pre-pay on their loans.
Some lenders will also try to use a flashy or “sophisticated” analysis to convince you this is a great way to get into a great house. But the funny thing about most of these sales pitches is that there’s no mention of the fact that you’ve exponentially increased risk. And risk can be mathematically entered into the equation, making your supposed gains disappear.
The best thing you can do – short of saving up and paying cash for a home – is make a huge down payment on a conventional 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Then, pay it off as quickly as possible.
When you have an interest-only loan, you end up paying only on the interest. And that’s a great way to find yourself in debt for the rest of your life!
For more financial advice and a special offer to our readers, please visit www.davesays.org or call 1-888-22-PEACE.
Dave Ramsey is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and author of the New York Times bestselling books, Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover. His life-changing advice in the area of personal finance helps people get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth that will last a lifetime and beyond.
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