By Jackie Thakkar Oct. 28, 2019
Dear salaried person in your twenties who is pre-approved for a credit card, take it from me, it’s a trap. Between tempting EMI schemes and seemingly endless cashback opportunities, the more gullible ones among us tend to fall prey to getting a credit card. Exhibit A: Yours truly.
As far as stereotypes go, I’m a huge letdown for my fiscally savvy Gujju brethren. In the past few months, rather than making sound investments or growing my savings, I’ve spent my hard-earned paycheck on bogus purchases like second watches, third wallets, a sixth pair of sunglasses, and a replica WWE Spinner Title Belt. But out of all my financial misadventures, I’d wager that my greatest one was saying “Yes” when my bank offered me a credit card this year.I believe my credit card debt was inevitable. Mainly because being a financially independent millennial in this economy is a bumpy road. It starts when you drive down Starter Salary Avenue, which is smooth until you hit Paying Bills Boulevard, and try to merge at the cutthroat Appraisal Intersection, before finally succumbing to your fate: steering aimlessly through the dark, unending Tunnel of Credit Card Debt.
Dear salaried person in your twenties who is pre-approved for a credit card, take it from me, it’s a trap. Yes, it’s tempting to opt for the luxury of dipping into a line of credit that’s three times your salary as opposed to using your debit card. But before you fall in love with the idea of “buy now, pay later”, you need to realise that no amount of retail therapy is worth writing off half your salary every month toward the 20 and 30 per cent interest rates that most banks charge on your statement. Using credit cards is not always rainbows and butterflies, but compromise, as the Maroon 5 lyrics goes. And banks know this well.
Banks have understood that most urban millennials in India are under-paid, overworked, and earning between four to eight lakh per annum. Banks know about the FOMO you feel every time you go through your Insta Feed and see ads for Versace handbags that cost two month’s salary. So thanks to data-mining agencies, these vulnerable millennials are hounded with telemarketers calls until they finally break. Even their ads are classic FOMO marketing, “Buy now, Pay Later! With ABCD Credit Cards!” Between tempting EMI schemes and seemingly endless cashback opportunities, the more gullible ones among us tend to fall prey to getting a credit card. Exhibit A: Yours truly.
Using credit cards is not always rainbows and butterflies, but compromise, as the Maroon 5 lyrics goes.
Yes, having a credit card may give you the spontaneous high of instantly clicking the “Buy Now” button on the flat-screen TV you definitely DO NOT need to buy during the Diwali Big Bonanza Sale, but it also makes you a slave to paying regular “minimum amount due” at the end of every month until Prithvi Shaw retires from cricket. Not to mention, the ₹20,000 you drop on your spontaneous Goa flight tickets you booked for the Independence Day long weekend quickly balloon up to ₹ 26,000 when paying your bill in September.
Credit card debt, like Talia al-Ghul’s betrayal of Batman in the criminally underrated The Dark Knight Rises, is the slow knife that cuts deepest. Even if you don’t use your credit card for months, your debts only continue to rise. Which is why most credit card users like myself suffer from long bouts of buyer’s remorse.
I realise this statement reeks of privilege, but I truly believe that online shopping coupled with easy access to credit cards is what will be the eventual downfall of millennial potential. We are following our American counterparts’ footsteps. And the reason why 51 per cent of American millennials are in debt isn’t student debt, but credit card debt. We should have been the generation that brought about climate change awareness, but instead, Gen Z is beating us to that while we scroll through Dhanteras deals on our smartphone, falling prey to our own consumerist instincts.
In conclusion, dear millennial eligible for a credit card, please remember that a bank approaching you with their new scheme is like an ex drunk-dialing you six months after the break up; tempting, on the surface. But not worth the shame you feel about it later.