A friend of mine got a call from his bank some weeks ago asking if he wanted to have a credit card. No, he said, I don’t want that, because I don’t have a steady income and I’m sure I will not be able to pay the credit card debt. And what did he find in his post box two days ago? A credit card with his name on it. He cut it in two, walked to the bank and left it at the counter saying he really didn’t want a credit card.
More Turks should do that. Credit card debt is really a huge problem here. Anybody can get a card, and there is no, or hardly any, restriction on how much you can spend with it. Many people buy things with ‘taksit’, which means you pay for the things you buy with a monthly withdrawal from your credit card account. You can pay for just about anything with taksit, even small amounts like 50 liras. But of course it all adds up, and I can’t see who the winners are in this system. People end up with thousands of liras of credit card debt that they will never be able to pay, shops get unhappy because they have no cash flow (that’s why you always get a nice discount if you pay cash), and of course the situation gets banks into trouble too. Now consumer organisations and banks are involved in framing a law on credit card debt. It’s partly about how to deal with people who have huge debts; consumer organisations say these debts should be cancelled, but the banks protest: not everybody is a victim, they say, there are also consumers who just keep on spending even though they know they can’t afford it. True, but the banks shouldn’t play the victim either: do they ever really inform their customers about the pros and cons of credit cards? Do they set spending limits based on somebody’s income? Do they block the credit card when spending gets too high? Do they respect people’s decision when they say they don’t want a credit card because they can’t pay for it? It’s the Wild West with credit cards here, and a law to deal with credit card debt can never be enough to solve the problem.
I also refused a credit card from my Turkish bank, as I have enough trouble sometimes dealing with my Dutch one (which has restrictions based on my income). Today my love and I will buy a dishwasher. No, no taksit, thank you, we opt for the discount and pay cash!