Advantages & Disadvantages of Credit Cards & Consumerism

Credit cards and consumerism are closely linked. Often, people choose to purchase objects by borrowing money rather than by spending money they already have. This is often done through the use of lines of credit accessed via credit cards. Consumerism -- the creation of a desire to purchase goods -- often pushes people to use these cards. Consumerism and credit cards, examined together, have a number of advantages and disadvantages.

Credit Card Advantages

One of the main advantages of credit cards is that they allow people access to money for a short period of time that they would not otherwise have access to. If money borrowed against a credit card is paid back immediately, the rate of interest applied to it is very low and perhaps non-existent. Therefore, these cards can allow people to make important purchases during periods in which they are temporarily short of cash.

Credit Card Disadvantages

One of the main disadvantages of credit cards is that they can be easily misused. Typically, if a person is late paying back a credit card debt, he is charged late fees, as well as face a punitive rate of interest applied to the money he has borrowed. A person who does not handle money well can go deeply into debt by borrowing money and being unable to pay it back.

Consumerism Advantages

Consumerism is a belief system that encourages the purchase of consumer goods. Consumerism's main advantage is that it helps boost the economy. When people buy more goods, businesses receive more revenues. With high revenues, these companies can afford to hire more workers and make new and better products. This tends to raise the quality of life for everyone and allows people to make more money.

Consumerism Disadvantages

Consumerism -- particularly consumerism enabled by access to easy money, such as credit cards -- can push people deeply into debt. When a person is in debt, much of his income goes toward servicing that debt, rather than toward the purchase of goods and services. In addition, consumerism can distract people from more important goals and create a culture that celebrates materialism over moral values.