I found the following question about categories of purchases for credit cards: How do credit card companies track your purchase categories?

I'm about to apply for a credit card, and frankly, it makes me really nervous. I have good credit (I'm in the low-mid 700s) due to a stellar student loan history (paid it all back early) but I've shied away from credit cards due to the horror stories I've heard. I know that financially, it's not the smartest thing, but it's safer in a lot of ways. I'm trying to take the plunge now, though.

I've done some research and I've settled on a travel card (the BarclayCard Arrival) for the benefits, but I read an article online that advised to ask whether certain purchases can be used against you in terms of your credit rating with that card company. I asked this question when I applied for the card, but I couldn't get an answer.

Is this a legitimate question to ask? Basically, I don't want like, doctor's fees or any type of counseling fees (or other things that I can't think of) to negatively affect my credit rating or my benefits with the CC company. I plan on using this as my everyday purchase card, and I don't want to have to think about what I'm paying for.

Thanks! I hope this is the right SE site for this question.

  • Welcome back, I hope your HSA is funded by now. Keep visiting, your questions are most welcome. At 27, you can learn far more that we could at your age, via the internet, and sites like SE. Mar 11, 2014 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


I read articles quite some time ago that suggested exactly that. Not quite urban legend, but I've not seen anything recently that this new process was going to be fully implemented.

The article offered a number of items that could impact score and their reasoning.

Edit - It was 5 years ago, not an article, a public radio show, Marketplace. I wrote an article Credit Card Big Brother, in which I list the 10 things they warn against. This was the last I'd heard of such a proposal, the full list is pretty disturbing.

Alcohol - correlation between a high rate of purchase and risk of default. This ignores whether I'm drinking it all, or if the new job created a weekly entertainment of a dozen colleagues and spouses.

Purchases at the 'Dollar Store' - somehow the frugality of frequenting these stores was tied to lower ability to pay back debt.

Porn - What can I say? The smart money pays cash.

Retread Tires - This was named as a potential item to not charge. The computers have gone mad.

If anyone has more current data on the implementation of the use of specific purchases impacting scores, I'm sure they'll comment/answer. For now, I'd ignore that, get a card that offers cash back, 2% is the maximum I've seen for all purchases, 3-5% in select categories. You may mix 2-4 cards for best combo. Either way, If you pay every bill in full when it comes due, you'll pay no interest, get the rewards, and keep your score high.

  • Wow, that's a good article, Joe. You just earned another subscriber to your blog. :)
    – JohnFx
    Mar 11, 2014 at 15:21
  • Thx, @JohnFx. I try to offer links to article of mine that add to the answer, but are TLDR if completely copied in. Mar 11, 2014 at 16:52

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