Ah, credit cards. The enabler of reckless spending, yet such a useful financial tool when utilised right.
How useful is useful? And how enabling? I had to ask. Naturally, I turn to the RoR audience – I wanted to know the biggest swipe they have ever made on their credit cards. Not just that – I also asked if they themselves thought it was a good decision.
Here are their answers. Thanks to everyone who contributed!
Used credit cards to pay for hospital bills and medical emergencies
At least two people opted to have their deliveries at private hospital for the convenience and comfort.
Fairuzhizam Hisham – My wife gave birth to our second child at a private hospital. The bill came up to almost RM4k. It was expensive but worth it. Luckily it was a normal birth.
Nur Hidayah Abu Bakar – (I) paid for my second baby’s delivery in private hospital. It was worth it, yes.
While others shared instances where their credit cards were used in emergency situations:
Chee Siang Wong – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was for) my dad’s medical expense. It was an emergency in a private hospital. He had difficulty breathing but didn’t know it was actually a heart attack. He managed to reach the hospital in time (just a few steps before he collapsed) and the doctor managed to save him using blood thinner drug. To diagnose heart artery blockage, the doctor had to insert a tube through a blood vessel in the arm. Each time they do this, it costs RM5k.
The angioplasty, which was performed later, used the same procedure. The hospital could only do the angioplasty after we placed the deposit. We had to come out with RM20k as the deposit. Of course we could transfer him to government hospital but we didn’t want to risk it. Was it a good decision? An absolute yes.
Azlina Afzan – (I paid for) my father’s medical expenses before he got transferred to a government hospital. My mom’s card limit per day was not enough so I stepped in to pay using my credit card. Luckily the expenses were slightly below my card limit. I immediately paid the card balance the day after as I never use credit card to accumulate debts.
Ian Abel Nathaniel – My biggest expenditure is my cat’s life actually. Back in June, he was diagnosed with some parasitic disease that he may have already got before we rescued him. The doctor gave him only hours to live and we had to find a donor cat for an emergency transfusion. That plus almost two weeks hospitalisation, his bill came up to about almost RM2k.
Took me months to pay off his hospital bills. But now he’s back to his annoying self.
Used credit cards to pay for education
I have to admit that I didn’t think using credit cards to pay for education costs were a good idea, for various reasons. I maintained this view until I came across Mr-Stingy’s How I Paid Off RM58k in PTPTN Loan article. Ah if like that, in select situations, I guess it’s okay.
Alvin Lim – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was) used to clear off my PTPTN loan, which was about RM 21k. It was worth it. I did it to take advantage of the 20% discount (Suraya’s note: this discount is no longer available).
Actually, I have enough funds to clear my PTPTN loans. But I took the opportunity to use my Amex card to earn points. At 5x, I earned a total of 105k points which I then exchanged for an Apple Pencil worth RM 419 (on the spot redemption) plus some cash topup.
Carol Anthony – (I used my credit card to) make RM10k in cash payment to complete my education and earn a Bachelors Degree from a private uni. It was worth it as there were no PTPTN loans back in those days. I also had to take out some cash from EPF too (to pay for the remainder of education fees).
Neutrals Fong – (I paid) RM6k+ for a value investing course. I always make prompt payments and never ever paid a single cent interest to credit cards, so it is fine. Plus, the larger the amount the more the rebate I get.
Used credit cards to pay for house-related expenses
Some people used their cards to pay for downpayments or house deposits,
Bobby K.H. Ong @bobbyongkh – (I used my credit card to pay for my house’s) Down-payment. Had the cash anyway so the points was essentially a free airticket.
Loh Chuan Tuck – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was for) house downpayment. It was the worst decision but I had no choice at that time. I am still paying the debt until now, under AKPK.
The fact that we cannot afford to pay for the down-payment means that we are struggling financially for the long term. 15 to 18% credit card interest with the minimal monthly payment is killing us internally as we are struggling to make ends meet. Thanks to AKPK, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know the end is there.
Farhana Norlisan – I have booked (and paid for) undercons project using my credit card. Best investing experience I have so far. It was worth every cent as after a few months, I will receive cashback from the properties with negative cashflow of less than RM200/month, and use that to pay for other houses I bought. All of this took less than a year. Zero capital for multimillion acquisition.
(Suraya’s note: Farhana is a property investment consultant. This seems like pretty advanced property investing strategies, so proceed with caution)
Harvinthran Perabakaran – (I) Paid for purchase of electrical stuff, worth around RM10k, for my new house. Not only I received some cashback on the purchase, I also turned the payments into 0% monthly installment. (This strategy) helped me to not go broke, while affording the necessary things. Collected treat points as well and used them to make other purchases.
Edgar Lee – (I) helped my dad to buy some home appliances online. It was a good decision as the cashback received paid for the cards’ annual fees. Also, I got a free gadget as a new credit card applicant, after satisfying the minimum spending requirement.
Used credit cards to pay for wedding expense
Hariz Shukri – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was for my) wedding venue. Got to know my reception venue accepted Amex. The points alone got me a new TV when I redeemed it.
(Suraya’s note: A couple others also mentioned wedding rings and payment for the wedding dinner!)
Used credit cards to pay for laptop/tech
A bunch of people said laptops hahaha. This made me laugh because MY biggest credit card expense was a laptop, too, and I also justified the purchase by calling it an ‘investment’! Related: 4 Best Tips I Got From You Guys When I Wanted to Buy New Laptop
Liew CheonFong – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was my) laptop. It is “investment”.
While others bought tech tools with it.
Leo Koo – Some Wordpress plugins. I think the most expensive plugin was WP Time Capsule. It’s a backup software for WordPress that solved a pressing need and enabled me to offer reliable backups for clients. But at USD 699, it isn’t cheap. Did it turn out well? Well, in this case it did. But in some other cases, they end up as shelfware
Used credit cards to pay for travel & fun
And last but not least, is everything else not covered above. Things that are considered ‘wants’ not ‘needs’.
Pinky Chang– (The largest expense I made with my credit card was for) flight ticket to Argentina. It costs me RM6k. My credit card auto-prompted me to break down the amount into 18 months’ installment
(Suraya’s note: I’m going to go on ahead and assume Pinky saved up and can absolutely pay for those tickets upfront, but chose to make the payment in installments. At no point here I want to advocate you using your cards to fund a trip you can’t afford).
Fadzlin Ahmadon – (The largest expense I made with my credit card was for) flight tickets, and usually for everyone in the trip (who paid me back immediately). It was absolutely worth it for the trip itself, and for the points. I’m assigned as the ticket-buyer because I (like to) stalk Google Flights and see when the price goes down.
Other than that, it turns out you can interpret ‘fun expenses’ in MANY ways. Check these out:
Anansa Jacob – It was a massage chair. Definitely not a worthwhile purchase, sadly.
Ayla Kosmonova – A Roland Fantom G6 keyboard synthesizer. I was more in the ‘gear acquisition syndrome’ than using it properly. Last year its motherboard died and we don’t know what to do with it. Not sure where or who can fix such a sophisticated musical equipment. Even if we found a place, the repair costs would probably be almost the same as buying a new one.
I didn’t regret it. Had fun with it but the learning curve of that gear proved to be very challenging. Eventually I moved on to other interests – the machine is now gathering dust in the corner.
I guess all of the answers above pretty much confirmed my suspicions. The best situation to own credit cards is:
- when you don’t need one – ie you already have the cash but decide, eh might as well earn points/enter lucky draw competition etc
- when you want to break down a large purchase into instalments to ease cash flow
- if you want to be prepared in case a loved one has a medical emergency
In terms of selecting a credit card, the two most-quoted cards from the respondents were (1) Maybank 2 cards and (2) Public Bank Quantum credit card. Both are cashback cards. You can also read up my 4 Lesser-Known Tips to Get The Best Credit Card in Malaysia (For You) article for more info.
How about YOU? What’s the biggest expense you’ve ever made with your credit card? Was it a good decision or no? Share in the comments section!