It’s time to end the tension between we the consumers and the credit card companies. Well, to some degree. We’re not saying that credit card companies are always right and consumers are just plain wrong. However, we are a bit concerned when people feel that credit cards are evil. We do get a bit more concerned when we find that people feel that credit cards should be outlawed (yes, we’ve seen it said online), and we’re even more concerned when people feel like they would just be better off going cash only.

There are so many mistakes here that we don’t even know where to begin. So let’s go ahead and start from the top: credit cards are just a tool. Tools can’t be good or evil. They’re neutral entities in the great sea of life. So when you assign them an alignment towards good or evil, you’re really making a big deal out of something that really isn’t. Do you get mad at the hammer when you accidentally drive it through a wall, or do you assign blame where it belong s — on your shoulders.

Deceptive advertising is a very touchy subject, but we believe that there is some level of responsibility that the credit card holder needs to take as well. It can’t just be a matter of blaming the credit card companies and expecting to get bailed out. Wall Street gets bailouts, but that doesn’t mean that you need to run in with your hand out. If you’re having debt problems right now, it’s important to look at the root of the issue rather than think a bailout or any corporate windfall is going to make your true credit issues go away.

The reason why most people feel that credit cards are a bad idea is because they’ve gotten “burned” in the past. However, when that shiny credit card comes in the mail, did you really read the fine print or even attempt to? In the digital age, there really isn’t any excuse for ignorance anymore. If you’re not sure about a section of a credit card’s legalese, you can definitely find someone to answer your questions and concerns. Is it always going to be free? Not always. There will be times where you will need to get serious legal assistance in order to know what you’re getting into.

In its simplest form, a credit card is actually the start of a contract. In order to use the card, you’re agreeing to be bound by certain terms. Generally speaking, this is to pay the credit card company back for them letting you spend their money. If more people thought about credit this way, their debts would be smaller. A lot of people have the assumption that credit cards are for frivolous purchases that just can’t wait, and that’s not the case.

It’s a tool, people. How do you want to use your tool? That’s going to be the real question that you should answer.

We’re not saying that you can’t ever treat your sweetie to a romantic dinner on American Express, Visa, or MasterCard’s dime. However, we do suggest that you keep those things to a minimum. You don’t want to wake up and find that you owe a lot of money for something that isn’t really going to get you ahead in life. While that’s not a pleasant or even a popular viewpoint to take, we think it’s necessary.

The bottom line is that we all get 24 hours in a day to create the life that we ultimately want. What you do with your time, money, energy and spirit matters. If you want a great life, then you need to continue seeing credit cards as a tool. Look back on your purchases — are those purchases sending the message that you see credit cards as a tool, an evil, or a crutch?

When you’re charging everything to your credit cards to make ends meet, that’s when you’re building up into a problem that could overwhelm your family for a long time. Credit problems don’t just go away – you can’t just hide and hope that they will stop pursuing you. If you refuse to pay the credit card companies back, you are breaking your initial contract.

This is another arena where feigning ignorance of the rules is unlikely to get you any special treatment. For one, you need to understand that if you use their credit card, then you will be bound by their rules. It’s really as simple as that. If you have a problem with a credit card company’s terms and conditions, then you are always advised not to charge even a penny to their card. Borrowing even a dime of their money really isn’t the way to go.

If you want to use credit cards as a tool to pick up travel reservations, that’s one thing. If you want to use it as a way to treat friends and family special for a night, that’s not a bad idea either. However, when you’re maxing out all of your credit cards, that’s a bad sign and you should definitely try to avoid that as much as possible.

Remember that credit cards cannot force you to do anything — they cannot make you behave in one way or do things a different way than you already do. You might be swayed by the idea of reward points, miles, or free hotel stays. However, those are things that you have to decide are worth it. If you’re not into that at all, then you will really want to make sure that you use your credit cards sparingly.

The road ahead is long, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible road. Make sure that you are tracking your credit card spending and making sure that “treats” are low on the list and convenience is moderate. If you want to book your travel plans on your credit card, that’s perfectly fine — but do mark sure that you can pay that card off in full when the bill comes due. That’s the best way to stay out of trouble from the start!