Can someone tell me a comparable story about your experience with credit cards?
For my first credit card, my father and I went to a bank, we filled out some paperwork, and I got a shiny card. Since then, I've acquired them generally via mail/online.
I think of credit cards as being debit cards, except that instead of the money being deducted from my account at the time of purchase, all of my purchases for a month are lumped together and I pay all of them at once, after I've had a chance to look over my statement and make sure that the list of payments is right. And, if I really really really need to, for a fee, I can avoid paying all of it this month, and instead pay it next month (I've only actually done this once in 15 years, I think, and that was because of a particularly large purchase).
At a higher level, what happens when I make a "payment" with a credit card is that my credit card issuer (e.g. Discover) immediately pays (like a debit card) the merchant say, 15 bucks, and receives implicitly from me a signed contract saying "Axiem will pay Discover 15 bucks in the future". This shifts some of the risk around e.g. stolen credentials away from me as a user, and onto the big, scary finance company. And I don't have to try to remember my PIN just to make a purchase. On the other hand, Discover will only let me get away with so much of this (my "credit limit", which is basically a function of how much money I make and whether or not I pay my credit card bill monthly), but I rarely get anywhere up there in practice, so it's a bit moot.
There's more complexity to it (in terms of how merchants are charged, and how risk gets mitigated, and how credit cards can get away with 5–10% back schemes), but that's the nutshell.
Though these days, I do it through Apple Pay when I can, but that's just using my phone instead of a card.
My spouse and I have 5 cards between us:
- A shared bank debit card for ATMs the one time every year we actually need cash (and for those rare places that only take debit)
- A shared credit card that is our primary purchaser, mostly because it has a good rewards program
- My spouse has their own credit card that they never use, but it's tied to the mortgage account and could theoretically be used for gifts and things that I can't see
- I have my own credit card that is paid out of my personal allowance bank account, and largely is my lunches and gifts and things
- I have my own debit card that's attached to my personal allowance bank account, but it doesn't live in my wallet so in practice, I don't have it
We used to have a 6th specifically for gasoline, but they stopped giving you the rewards for it if you didn't actually use it for anything else, so we went to our shared one because it has decent rewards on gas.
In terms of day-to-day life, somewhere close to 100% of our purchases are done by credit card; for me, I choose between personal or shared based on the context; my spouse always uses the shared card. I imagine it's pretty similar to using a debit card for everything, but we don't have any PINs to deal with, and we look at the statement monthly and pay it (and/or contest anything strange that shows up on there). Whether it's a physical card, Apple Pay, or typing numbers into a webpage depends on the context, but is functionally the same.