Credit cards – boon or bane?

visa gold

I have just received another credit card – it’s a Petronas Visa Gold card from Maybank with no annual fees for life with no conditions. I didn’t apply for it since I’m not a big fan of filling in forms, but someone from the bank called me and told me I qualify for one and asked if I was interested. I told her I don’t like filling out forms (seriously, I hate doing that) but she can go ahead and fill in my particulars for me if she needs the quota, I’ll just make sure there is no High Risk Credit Card Processing wherever I decide to use it

Well, I got a call yesterday saying that the Petronas Visa Gold is ready to be picked up. I’m actually quite lazy to do stuff like that as well, I remember a HSBC credit card that I never picked up coz the place is too far away from where I work. My girlfriend wanted to go to the bank though, so I decided to pick this one up during lunch. I figured it’ll be useful for gas since I pump petrol at Petronas and it’ll soften the petrol price hike with the points for redeeming petrol vouchers.


However, I have noticed that I always tend to overspend, which is why I don’t carry credit cards in my wallet anymore. I used to have several cards from different banks and ran up a huge debt when I started working. I have to admit that I was never any good at budgeting and I always spend way beyond my means. The amount of money I have in the bank at the end of the month is always in the single digits. Seriously.

Nowadays, banks are overenthusiastic in giving out credit cards – cold calling and going to the extent of filling in all your details for you. It seems that Classic (Silver) cards are reserved for students and fresh graduates starting work since they don’t even offer those anymore. They are very keen on giving out Gold and Platinum cards with high credit limits with impunity, which is great for the bank, but bad for the holder. I can see the potential of overspending on this card already.

I was talking to my girlfriend last night about going on a trip this coming holiday. She likes the beach so I was thinking either Krabi, Bali or Macau. Macau was my choice since there are casinos there and I have this inappropriate romantic sentiment that I’ll beat the house odds and win the trip costs back. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s seriously a bad idea though, coz no one ever beats the house.


Bali would cost around RM 2,500 for the plane tickets alone for the both of us ex-Sibu and I think the total trip would probably hit the RM 5,000 mark easily with hotels and food. I shouldn’t even be thinking about it considering I can’t afford 5k right now (since I don’t have that much disposable income in the bank, and thus will be flying on credit).

…but the fact that I’m even considering it seriously is a testament to the fact that credit cards with high credit limits causes people like me to overspend.

I should be dating an accountant, the last girlfriend I had would have knocked me upside the head (coz she’s good at budgeting and all that) for even considering going on the trip. Oh wait, my current girlfriend is technically an accountant too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh well, I’m thinking about Krabi, Thailand. It’ll be cheaper than Bali and I haven’t been there before.

Hmm…should I or should I not?

Anyway, I haven’t given my girlfriend an official moniker yet – I’m thinking Dapple (20% related to her name) or Melody (near 100% translation of her Chinese name). The relationship will remain under wraps until further notice due to prevailing circumstances. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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41 thoughts on “Credit cards – boon or bane?”

  1. I used my credit card for certain expenses nia. If I want to buy something, I make sure that it is in my budget and I can afford it. I like to use it for paying my bills. I dun like queuing up at the counter. It is so convenience to do it with a few clicks at any time I want. But by the end, I always don’t like to look at the statement. Never look nice. Still a bad thing of having a credit card.
    Btw, my hubby just signed up citibank credit card even though I hate that bank. He just wants a GPRS for RM399.

  2. What??? Autumn is not your girlfriend??? What a pity! I thought she would be perfect for you. I hate owing banks money and thus always pay up everything I put on my credit card at the end of the month. Krabi is a great holiday destination and you ought to go… if its with Autumn. Any other gal…forget taking her on holiday… since you have not introduced her to your sixthseal readers. Cheers!

  3. Actually depends on how you use it. Its great for online purchases like plane tickets and such. But its NOT good when you FEEL like spending, and knowing that you dont have the means. Some banks are quite cunning. If you are a good payee, they just raise and raise the credit limit without even letting you know. I started with a Citibank Clear Card, and after some years of using it, I was sent a Platinum card with a credit limit of about 10times my salary. I mean, it all sounds good on paper, but heck, I sure as heck cant be spending more than 10 times of what I earn! My advice to you, since you dont budget well, keep the card at home, in a drawer, use it only for transactions where you cant use cash. Btw, 5k seems like a steep price for the holidays no?

  4. When are you going to take the holiday? Thai is in a chaos now better skip Krabi. Ever heard Hainan Island, its a good option too. Oh Ya me and Wilson will going to Macau/Hong Kong/ Shenzen tomorrow and will be back next friday. You can email me if you need to know about these places ;p

  5. I think RM2500 for flight tickets only to Bali is pretty pricey!
    I paid RM1089 for 2 air tickets (KUL/Bali/KUL) plus 2 nights accommodation in Bali.
    I would suggest that you look up AA’s website on what’s on offer now since you don’t have any particular destination in mind but would just like to get away.
    Good luck!

  6. 2500 for Bali is a little bit too expensive considering that we can fly to Bali using Air Asia. Krabi on the other hand is quite nice but I would recon that you head to Raileh Beach for the beach, sand and ‘abalone’.

  7. fly Air Asialah. it is much cheaper. worth a visit Huaibin. Thailand i think is not a good choice at the moment. i received the same phone call. i rejected it as i thought it would b too risky to divulge details over the phone to a total stranger. from this post of yrs, i guess it must have been a genuine call.

  8. Here in the States people now use checkcard. Like a credit cards but it really from your checking account in form of a card you use like credit card and not interest or monthly bill. Money from your own checking account. You have more control of your money never to worry of credit card bill again.
    Many people are happy for checkcard you can get at any bank with your own checking account. We have Citibank here they got checkcards. It got Visa or Mastercard on it but it checkcards.

  9. Here in the States people now use checkcard. Like a credit cards but it really from your checking account in form of a card you use like credit card and not interest or monthly bill. Money from your own checking account. You have more control of your money never to worry of credit card bill again.
    Many people are happy for checkcard you can get at any bank with your own checking account. We have Citibank here they got checkcards. It got Visa or Mastercard on it but it checkcards not a debit card.

  10. I do have a lot of credit card….cause I would like to collect the design of each of the bank…hehe….once almost reach 1 year, then I cancel it!….and currently i do use 3 credit card and each of it used on diff purposes….but I do control my usage…else I will overspend it (@__@)…
    I would prefer Krabi…I heard the beach is nice….but my friends complain about boredom over there because there only one place to go which is the beach…..

  11. NO, you ding dong. It took me yonks to clear debts I chalked up on those pieces of plastic. These days, I’m terrified of credit cards, and yep, swipe the card only if you have the cash to pay for it.
    Having said that, Krabi is also on my to-visit-soon list! ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. ShaolinTiger: Yeah, that’s a great policy to live by, instead of being shackled by the evil banking empire. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Choonie: Yeah, that’s what I use it for too, paying bills through ebanking and online purchases and petrol. I only take it physically during vacations or on trips. GPRS for RM 399? That’s kinda expensive…modem or service?
    The Bull: She’s not my girlfriend, she’s just a friend of mine. Well, she is a very nice person, mature and all that. Makes for a very good friend, but she’s already engaged. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Yeah, me too, I hate the interest that accumulates when you don’t pay in full…feels like a victim of loan sharks with minimum payments and all that. Heh!
    I’m thinking of Koh Phi Phi (Phi Phi Islands) and seeing that iconic rock formation in Krabi.
    I’m taking the girlfriend, her name is Melody, and here’s a short introduction – gorgeous, fun, intelligent, slim (almost thin), young (a few years younger than me), speaks English. Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Peter Tan: Yeah, that’s true…but I don’t think we have a lot of private hospitals over here with good A&E sections. Last time I checked (that was before rehab) we don’t even have ICU units in private hospitals, but the government hospital is equipped with a (dubious) one.
    Simon Seow: I think everyone who’s working would qualify for a credit card now. The banks have quotas and targets and they just give them out to anyone who’s working or has a high bank account balance. Try it, you might find it easy to get one.
    whimsicaljottings: Yeah, online purchases are basically all I use my credit card for – hosting, air tickets, other purchases. Petrol is another place I use credit cards, outside of vacations.
    Yeah, I know what you mean, I have a credit limit on one of the credit cards that would take me a year to pay off with my current salary. It’s amazing how they would extend such credit to someone.
    Kinda evil when you think about it, be their slave for your next working year. Hmm…
    Thanks for the advice, I always don’t take out my credit card unless I’m going for petrol. 5k is for two people, which is why everything is double. *shrugs*
    annant: Yeah, it’s really bad. I ran into a huge debt with credit cards when I just started working. It took me a long time to pay it back.
    Roland: Hmm…I’m thinking Hari Raya holidays. I don’t really care about things like the Southern Thailand strike, these things make the place more appealing to me. I wanted to go to Bali when they bombed the place, just to take photos. I’m quite adventurous with stuff like this, not a very cautious person. You can’t be too cautious, or you’ll just be another tourist. Gotta be a traveler. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Macau/HK/SZ sounds like fun! One week eh…will ask you about it when you come back. Cheers!
    Jac: It’s ex-Sibu so we always have to pay for than KL people. It’s Air Asia all the way from Sibu/KL/Bali and return for two people…and on the cheapest seats! Airport tax and all that. Sibu to KL alone would be around RM 800+ for two.
    Good suggestion, I saw a Bangkok promotion but the price has gone up to normal prices. Shall check for new promotions. Cheers!
    xes: Yeah, I’m using Air Asia. I’ll have to fly from Sibu to KL and that would cost RM 800 for two with airport tax and all that. Raileh Beach eh, sounds like a great place mate. Will check it out. Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚
    BTW, what kind of abalone? If it’s the other kind, that’s a no-go area since I’m travelling with my gf. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Bengbeng: I am flying Air Asia. The tickets are expensive coz it’s a holiday. We have to go Sibu to KL and then to Bali.
    Hmm…the girl who called didn’t ask me to divulge any information. Just asked me if I was Huai Bin and then whether I’m still living at where I am. She was the one giving me the details, they have a database so I just confirmed that I was still working where I was and let her fill up the form.
    thatjames: Really? How so? It’s not even that close to her name, but rather a concatenation of her name and “apple of my eye”…and the fact that she gives me apples (and pears) in the morning coz I don’t eat breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚
    butterscotch: No lar, some people are just thin by nature. I like the way she looks. Slim with a bit of a babyface. Like me. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Not slim, I’m quite fat, the babyface part, I mean. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    p-t: I’m 27, it would be a bit on the unusual side if I wasn’t hunting. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Jeff: Yeah, things are still It’s Complicated (TM) at the moment, so we’ll see how it works out. I do want to settle down, get married, have children and all that. I am very loyal to my labor of love ( so I think I’ll make a good father as well. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Amy: Check card? Interesting. It’s kinda like EFTPOS in Australia/NZ, from what you described except EFTPOS works with your regular bank card and from a debit current account.
    I’ve always liked EFTPOS (which is kinda like your check card as well) but it never took off over here in Malaysia.
    EFTPOS is not a credit card though, just a debit card. No Visa or Mastercard logo, but accepted at most retailers and restaurants.
    nkwai: Haha! Well, as long as you don’t use them, it should be alright. I like the Sony Card from Maybank, looks quite good. The Citibank clear also looks nice (the first time it came out) and they have a mini credit card if I’m not mistaken.
    I don’t like using multiple credit cards, coz it’s difficult to consolidate. I want to switch to this one since Maybank is my primary current account now (PB is more FD and mutual funds for me now).
    It’s easier to manage that way.
    Well, I guess Krabi would be perfect for us since it’s going to be a honeymoon of sorts. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    essentric: Thanks for the advice! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Yeah, it took me a long time to bail out of my previous credit card debt too. Spending more than I earn and all that crap.
    Krabi sounds fun eh? Scuba diving, beaches, Phi Phi Islands. Paradise.
    Darren: True, but then again, the money has to come from somewhere, so it’s always good to not spend more than your current bank account. I had to take out my FD account to pay for my credit card bills, which defeats the entire purpose of Fixed Deposits.

  13. Urgghh… banks providing a tremendous excess of credit to individuals way beyond their means is exactly why the US economy is in such a mess now. I wonder what the default rates on these credit card payments are!
    And I agree with the rest that the numbers you quoted for your trips are a tad high! But between the ones you mentioned, my vote goes to Bali. Actually for all you know with the 5k you could even head over to Mauritius.

  14. katkat: Yeah, I know! The combined credit limits of all my cards would probably need 5 years of work to pay in full if I ever were to max it all out. Jesus Christ. There is a minimum amount you can pay, “servicing the loan” basically, which is kinda like a legal loan shark, but it’s a Bad Idea (TM) coz the interest accumulates.
    Yeah the prices are ex-Sibu (e.g. flying from Sibu) so it’ll be on the high side since it’s peak season as well. Mauritius? Exotic destination.

  15. I live in California and never own a credit card due all banks have checkcard for people who have checking accounts in their banks. Credit cards is now old fashion. It your own money you put into checking. Instead of writing paper checks people just just use checkcards paying bills and shopping.
    I use my checkcard when I went to Beijing and Hong Kong with no problem what so ever. Citibank here in State have checkcards. People are learning to plan well in controling their money not buy beyond their need too.

  16. Thomas: Hmm…so a check card is something like EFTPOS but it can be used internationally. Kinda like Visa Debit cards then. It’s a good idea, I must admit, especially for people like me.
    However, credit cards would still be the best for medical emergencies. I mean, what if you have to check into a 3k per night ICU at a private hospital and you don’t have that much in your checking account?
    Debit cards aren’t widely accepted here, so in Malaysia credit cards are still the way to go. For now anyway. Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I do not know much of Malaysia and is surprise no health insurances . States have if you are full time workers. My friend was ill and he stay for 4 days in hospital for free. He has no insurance yet hospital own by San Francisco City it free. He fine now and said foods in hospital was great.
    Make me wonder if he there for the food?

  18. Credit cards is more than a trap to get you to spend more than what you need. Got friends crying of debts pile high of credit cards bills. Only certain people can control themselves and use it wisely. Interest rate is reason I rather not use them at all.
    Buying something on sale is not sale when the bill show interest you need to pay for so not sale at all. Hospitals should have sliding scale
    for people to pay by installments. Proper money control is all we need to do.

  19. Amy: Health insurance. There is no nationwide coverage but some banks and insurance companies offers those. We do have government hospitals though but the quality is very dubious (having stayed in one before) compared to private hospitals.
    I like Australia, the Medicare card is nationwide and hospital stays are free too, as well as ambulance rides. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I was in a private hospital a couple of times in Melbourne and the service was great, and so is the food. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Eric: I agree with that, the temptation is always there. I’ve been ensnared by the plastic trap myself. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hmm…government hospitals are next to free and you could probably negotiate an installment system with private hospitals and such. I agree, financial discipline is necessary.

  20. ็œ‹ไฝ ็”Ÿๆดปไน ๆƒฏๆœฌๆฅๅฐฑๆ˜ฏOVERSPENDING
    HMM ้‚ฃไธชๅฅณ็”Ÿไธๆ˜ฏไฝ ๅฅณๆœ‹ๅ‹ๅ•Šใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚
    ่ฎขๅฉšไบ†ใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚้‚ฃใ€‚ใ€‚ใ€‚ไป–ๆ‡‚ไฝ ๆ”พ็›ธ็‰‡ๅœจ่ฟ™้‡Œๅ—๏ผŸ
    P/S: purposely wrote chinese word coz easier for me to bla

  21. Credit cards heh? I am still paying for the huge debts I accumulated, not an easy thing to do ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, it’s a lesson haha! Damn, why must go down the treacherous path to be redeemed? LOL!

  22. FONG2: I blur. I had to use Babelfish to translate and it didn’t come out right.
    I can’t read Chinese.
    bongkersz: Yeah, I know what you mean mate. I’m one of those that can’t resist though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. I highly recommend the small seaside town in Bali called Padangbai. I was planning to visit Lombak, but once I got to Padangbai, I decided to spend my whole vacation there.
    I stayed at a beach guesthouse called Billabong. The rate was only 45,000Rp a night, and includes a decent breakfast. My room had a beach view and the clear blue sea is literally a stone’s throw away. The rooms are clean and comfortable with private shower.
    In this area, you can scuba, snorkel, visit the local hindu temples to enjoy free Balinese music and dancers, rent a bike to view smoky Mt. Agung, or laze around and do absolutely nothing, if you wish. You can even dip in tide pools filled with colourful fish and live corals!
    Personally, I would avoid the big towns like Kuta. Too many rowdy foreigners spoiling the market.

  24. Hmm… well, I’ve been to lots of places in Thailand, and Krabi wasn’t near the top of the list. Just saying, for what it’s worth.

  25. penguin: Thanks for the tip, I’ll take it into consideration when I go there. I’ve actually been to Denpansar (technically) on a layover from a Christchurch, NZ to Singapore flight.
    nickels: Bangkok is fun, I’ve been there. My then-gf wouldn’t let me go to the Patpong bars though and threatened to kick me out of the hotel room if I even stepped foot in one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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