Credit cards can be a touchy subject. Some people love them, some people despise them, and few people truly understand them. Before the recent financial crisis, few people really cared enough about them outside of their own fiscal situations, but nowadays they’re a hot topic. You can’t open a newspaper or a web browser without seeing a story about regulations or reading someone’s rant about the credit card industry.
Despite the quantity of information currently available, it’s not often that we at NerdWallet come across credit card advice that we completely approve of. Credit cards are big business, so there are huge incentives to keep consumers in the dark about how much money they are spending. And credit card companies pay big bucks to make sure people sign up for the cards that are most advantageous to their bottom lines. This means that very few resources are willing to tell the whole story.
As for the sites and publications that don’t have economic incentives to mislead consumers, their advice usually just isn’t that helpful. How many times have you read articles with tips like, “Just spend less” or “Just pay more off each month” or the biggest cop-out, “Avoid debt at all costs!!” This type of advice doesn’t strike me as particularly meaningful because for most people, it’s just not likely to happen.
This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I read The Skinny On Credit Cards. Despite the cartoonish look and the stick figure characters, it actually contains a good deal of useful information in a concise and easy-to-read format. The subtitle is “How to Master the Credit Card Game”, which is exactly the message that NerdWallet tries to convey. Rather than just telling you how to avoid credit card debt altogether, The Skinny On follows the approach that credit cards are not evil in and of themselves. We just need to understand exactly how they work, how they make money off of us, and how we can use this information to our advantage rather than allowing ourselves to get pulled into a debt spiral.
While the book weighs in at 166 pages, it can be read in one sitting because of the accessible explanations, the use of tables and graphics, and the comic book layout. They have condensed everything a consumer should need to know to avoid credit traps and become a savvy credit card user into a lazy Sunday read.
The book is only $14.95 for a paperback, or $9.95 for an ebook, and I have no doubt it will save most readers a great deal more in future fees and interest payments. For the next six months, if you use the promo code nerdwallet25, you can save an additional 25% off the listed price.
So buy your copy here, and once you’re armed and ready to face the credit card companies at their own game, check back to find the best credit card for your needs.