Americans Find It Hard to Get By Without Their Credit Cards

NEW YORK (MainStreet -- A new survey sheds light on just how heavily some consumers rely on credit cards.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) said 20% of consumers were unable to make ends meet without the help of a credit card, while another 22% said they would have to alter their lifestyle if they only used cash.

"Credit should be used as a convenience, not to supplement income," said Gail Cunningham, financial expert for the NFCC. "People may feel as though they have no alternative to using credit to supplement their income, but that is a dangerous habit that can lead to financial ruin."

In any healthy financial situation, a credit card is used for the purposes of building credit. Credit can't be built via debit card usage, since that activity isn't reported to the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

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Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC's TODAY, MSNBC and CNN. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.

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