Many people have credit cards and are able to use them responsibly. In fact, if you use credit cards correctly, it can help rebuild your credit if it’s damaged or bolster a credit score rating that is already good. However, many people develop serious addictions to credit cards. Moreover, credit card addiction symptoms and destructive behavior can be just as severe as individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a credit card addiction, here are five things that suggest there may be problem.
1. You Are Always Opening Up New Accounts
If your wallet is loaded with credit cards for big box stores, retailers and so forth, this is a possible sign that you have a credit card addiction. Moreover, if you are having difficulty paying off your old credit cards and are still opening new lines of credit, you are most likely feeding a serious credit card addiction.
People with credit card addictions get a high when they apply for new lines of credit and are immediately granted a new credit card. And, conversely, if they try and open up a new card and are rejected, the reaction to being denied a brand new line of credit can cause emotional anguish. This is a similar type of reaction that alcoholics and drug addicts have when they are unable to feed their addiction. While it is perfectly fine to have a few credit cards for retailers and big box stores, if you have more than three then that should serve as a warning sign. Instead of collecting new credit cards from various outlets, try to focus on having one or two major credit cards which can be used anywhere and not just in a specific store. Of course, if you have a credit card addiction, that sort of advice won’t be understood. Chances are, if you have a credit card addiction, you will have already maxed out such credit cards and that is precisely why you are trying to open new accounts. Accruing countless credit cards is dangerous financially and emotionally. If you think you have a credit card addiction, reach out to a mental health care specialist or someone you trust to discuss ways in which to combat your addiction.
2. You Hide Your Expenses From Your Partner, Family And Friends
You just couldn’t resist that new watch at the mall! When you saw those beautiful earrings, you were overcome with the need to buy them. The shoes you saw at your favorite store couldn’t be passed up. These buying situations are endless.
When you see something, anything you like, you immediately reach for your credit card to purchase it. There is an immediate rush right after you purchase it. But then you get home, take out your new item and it suddenly seems lackluster. So the cycle begins again, and you find that within a few days or a week, you have maxed out several credit cards. You feel ashamed for your reckless behavior, but at the same time are unwilling to return your new items and do not wish to stop spending on your credit cards. This behavior has led you to have arguments with your significant other, family members and perhaps even your friends. So you have devised plans to hide your expenses from the people you love the most. If you’re familiar with this type of behavior, then you probably have a serious credit card addiction. If your credit card spending has led to tensions in your closest relationships and you have been told that your habits make someone who knows you well uncomfortable, then it is highly likely that you have a credit card addiction.
Those who care about you the most are oftentimes the first to notice a change in your behavior, especially when it’s related to addiction. While in some cases they will not say anything, at least at first, if the behavior becomes severe enough, people will speak up and bring it to your attention. When it comes to addictions – whether or not it is a credit card addiction or dependency upon a chemical substance – being called out can be painful and even infuriating. Most of the time, addicts are in deep denial about their problem. And many times, those closest to addicts can be in denial as well.
3. You Rarely Have Cash On Hand
If you never have cash on hand, and instead reach for a credit card whenever you purchase something, this is another sign that you have a credit card addiction. Oftentimes, people with credit card addictions will spend their money from their paycheck and then immediately turn to the plastic in their wallet. Another obvious reason why people who have credit card addictions lack cash is because they have most likely spent it all in order to pay down their credit card bills. This is part of the vicious cycle of a credit card addiction, as when a person is low on cash, they usually turn to their credit card to buy things.
4. You Can’t Pass Up A Sale
Those sale signs in a store are simply too tantalizing to ignore! In fact, when you see such signs, you can’t ignore them. The allure is too much, so you wind up buying the sale item and then some other – most likely useless – things. This is yet another sign that you have a credit card addiction.
5. Spending Gives You A Rush
As already mentioned, when you use your credit cards, you experience a rush (what mental health clinicians call euphoria). This experience is related to the way in which your brain responds to pleasure and that is why credit card addictions are so dangerous. The more a credit card addict uses her credit card, the more pleasure he or she experiences. Since she is always seeking this feeling of pleasure, she finds herself using her credit cards with greater frequency. It is a dangerous situation that can quickly spiral out of control and lead many to financial ruin.
Just like any addiction, credit card addiction can ruin a person’s life and hurt those closest to them. There are, however, treatment programs to help people who have this addiction. Be aware of the symptoms listed above. If you think you have an addiction, make sure to seek treatment immediately. There are mental health care specialists in, or nearby, your community who can help you find the road to recovery. However, you must first accept that you are powerless over your addiction before you can then reach out for help.