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Card crazy: Using credit gives euphoria, hides downsides of buying

Card crazy: Using credit gives euphoria, hides downsides of buying

By Mary Richards | Posted - Nov. 18, 2011 at 2:13 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- If you are planning on doing some shopping this weekend or during the coming black Friday but don't want to overspend, you may want to use cash instead.

Shoppers at the Target and Downeast Warehouse in Salt Lake City say they can tell a difference between using a credit card and cash while they shop.

"I think it's smarter using cash because you know you are spending actual money and not plastic," said Christina Lopez.

A new study backs that up. Researchers found you feel the pain of the purchase when you fork over bills, and feel almost an euphoria when you swipe a credit card.

"Our research suggests that, when it comes to product evaluation, beauty truly lies in the eyes of the cardholder," according to the study.

Researchers would have people play games that focused on either credit cards or cash. When asked to evaluate things like prices, those who were focused on credit cards had a harder time recalling prices and similar indicators. Those who were focused on cash did better.

Likewise, those who were focused on credit cards tended to downplay the limitations or flaws of a product. Those paying with cash more accurately recalled whether a product was really what it was cracked up to be.

There are times when you need credit, like online.

"I just set a budget so I know, kind of like with cash, that I have this much to spend," said Lopez.

Other Salt Lake shoppers say they try to keep track of their credit card purchases, but when they get their statement they are often surprised by how much they really spent.

Here's the take home, though - credit cards can hide a lot of the reality of what you're purchasing. But with cash, it's eyes wide open.

Story written by [Mary Richards](<mailto: mrichards@ksl.com>) with contributions from [David Self Newlin](<mailto: dnewlin@ksl.com>)

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