Is it Biblical to use a credit card? There are many thoughts on the subject. My wife and I take a pretty practical approach to the issue. This being said, we have also made some changes as of late.
God expects his children to be good stewards with every resource he has given. Whether this be time, money, relationships, a job, education, or a volunteer position in a local church, he expects nothing less than faithful excellence. Considering the fact that money was one of Jesus’ hot topics, the Lord is definitely interested in how you handle your money.
God also does not mind his children making money. My philosophy is this: Somebody has to make money, so why not the people who have the Holy Spirit in their hearts and are willing to let go of it to further God’s agenda and establish his kingdom here on earth? If you were going on a trip far away and needed to leave money with someone to give to your wife and children over time, would you not choose those closest to you, who have your heart, who care about the things that you care about? Of course you would. The more you trust them, the more you would be wiling to leave at their disposal to take care of your family while your gone.
All of this being said, is it Biblical to use a credit card? Because the Bible does not address this specifically, we have to use our minds to apply the general wisdom in the Bible to this particular question. I would rephrase the question in like manner: Can I use a credit card and still be absolutely faithful, a great steward, of my finances?
I believe you can. Matter of fact, I believe that God can use a credit card to bless you. On the other hand, I absolutely believe that our enemy can use a credit card to curse you.
How can God use a credit card to bless you? My wife and I have a Chase card that gives us 5% cash back of every purchase on three select categories and 1% cash back on all of our other purchases. After she gave birth, our Chase card had accumulated $160 worth of points. In other words, this was money that we would never had had if we had paid for everything with a debit card or straight cash. As I write, our Chase card has accumulated another $70. Again, this is free money. Sometimes we use this “credit” to do something fun and sometimes we use the credit to pay a bill. Either way, this is money Chase gives us for using their card.
Granted, before I make Chase out to sound like Santa Claus, there is something in it for them. They are banking on people being irresponsible and foolish with their money. What do I mean? Simple. Most people will use a credit card to buy things that they do not have enough money to pay for. This is what gets you in trouble. At the end of the month when your credit card balance is due, you do not have enough money in your account to clear the balance. When this happens, that charge sits there and you start getting charged interest. This is when a $200 purchase over the course of a few months (because you didn’t zero it out at the end of the month) can end up costing you $300-$400. It happens all the time and for a Christian, in several of these instances, it is sin.
From a financial perspective, past generations were characterized by a savings account. Younger generations are characterized by a credit card. Think about it. When you refuse to buy something until you have the money for it, you are exercising self-control. Is this not one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When you go around using a credit card in an irresponsible manner, you are living for the moment. You are stealing from your tomorrow for the sake of instant gratification in the present. In other words, the price of your happiness now is a pain, stressful, debt-filled tomorrow. We are not future-minded. We live like there is no future, no God, no eternity.
So, is it possible to use a credit card and glorify God. Over the past few years, Chase has given my wife and I approximately $700-$1000. On the other hand, we have not paid them one penny more than the charges we made. How come? We treat our credit card like a debit card. At the end of the month, we pull from our checking account and zero out the credit card balance. By doing this, we are living within our means, pretending that this credit card is nothing more than a debit card, and at the same, by using this credit card, we are paying for everything we would be paying for anyway (bills, grocery, gas, etc.) in a way that actually leaves us with more money than we would have had if we did not use a credit card.
The bottom line is this: If you are undisciplined and lack self-control, do not consider using a credit card. It will be nothing more than an access point for Satan in your life. Debt and financial stress can destroy you, your future, your marriage, and your family. But if you can do it, in the end, you end up with a credit card company never earning a dime off you though they are paying you hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Last time I checked, God is not afraid of his children earning more money. What he stands against is the tragically selfish consumer lifestyle that Americans live while tens of thousands are dying worldwide from easily prevented causes (in many cases, $10-$30 a month would save a life and provide them with education, etc.).
One last comment. One thing Allison and I realized was that for some reason, we were not doing a good job sticking to our grocery budget. So what did we do? Starting this money, we use the credit card for all of our purchases except grocery. For grocery, we admitted to ourselves that we were not doing a good job, and have shifted to an envelope system just for this one category. So while we use credit for everything else (thus earning extra money), we use cash for grocery. So far, it is making a HUGE difference.
It feels good to handle money wisely. It pleases The Lord and it also frees you to have more money to give to others. Think about this: What if you used a credit card and decided as a couple/family to use all of your credit card points to bless someone else. Are you telling me that this would not glorify God? My point is simple: There are ways to use a credit card that honors The Lord, blesses your family, and even blesses others (if you so choose). Are you suppose to? Is your family suppose? Ask The Lord. Commit this to prayer, and be honest about your own financial strengths and weakness.