Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 18.
If you think the holiday season is stressful now, just wait until the person you share a credit card with second guesses every cent you spend.
We've already become a nation of snitches and narcs -- a scared little group of huddled titmice that's all too willing to embrace "If you see something, say something" as a model for living. That makes it perfectly reasonable for 17 million U.S. credit cardholders to snoop on the spending habits of someone they share a credit card account with, as cardholders admitted in a new survey by CreditCards.com. One in five cardholders admit to peeking at another person's online (16%) or paper (12%) credit card statements, which should make things lively in U.S. households where the National Retail Federation already predicts the average consumer will spend more than $935 this holiday season.
We're told that we're supposed to be overjoyed that those percentages are down from June 2008, when 20% were eyeballing printed account statements to see what someone else was spending, while 15% went online to play auditor. But when 17% now say they feel closer to the other person because of the shared account -- almost double the 9% who said so eight years ago -- that just makes these violations of trust worse. After all, it isn't as if you're handing a stranger or coworker your card: 48% of shared accounts are with a partner or spouse and 10% are with an adult child. Just 5% are with children under 18, which suggests that there's far more financial babysitting going on between adults than there likely should be.