Caught on card: credit cards and political downfall

Where would we be without our trusty credit cards? Whether we're shopping online or browsing at the local mall, our little plastic pals are there to help us make those essential (and not so essential) purchases.

But credit cards come with certain responsibilities: keeping your information safe, sticking to your credit limit, making your repayments etc. Being sensible with your money is a really important life skill, so you'd think politicians would be all over it. 

Not so. Elected officials here and around the world often make really bad decisions when it comes to spending money. Take a look at these 5 cases of elected officials whose finances landed them in hot water… 

1. Craig Thomson (Australia)
The former Labor MP is currently facing a string of fraud and theft charges following allegations that he misused a work credit card in his former life as a union official. The now independent MP could go to jail if he's found guilty.

2. Shane Jones (New Zealand)
Like Thomson, New Zealand's former labour minister got into hot water over use of an official credit card. In 2010, he admitted watching "blue movies" while staying in hotels, but said the money had been repaid. He remains an MP.

3. Herve Gaymard (France)
Gaymard lasted just 3 months as France's finance minister after a newspaper article revealed that the taxpayer was footing the bill for his luxury Paris apartment. There was nothing illegal about the €14,000-a-month in rental payments, but public outcry forced him out.

4. Eliot Spitzer (United States)
The ballsy attorney general of New York who took on the Wall Street big boys crashed and burned after a tabloid scandal. Spitzer was said to have spent more than $15,000 at the exclusive Emperor's Club VIP over a series of visits. Five years later, he's looking to revive his political career with a run for New York's city comptroller.

5. Silvio Berlusconi (Italy)
No list of political scandals would be complete without Italy's playboy prime minister. Berlusconi was the comeback kid of Italian politics, serving as PM three times, but his legendary parties and his fondness for the ladies ultimately led to his downfall. Earlier this year his antics saw him sentenced to seven years in jail. He's expected to appeal.

A good way to get smart with money is to choose the right credit card for your circumstances. Check out our credit card comparison page to get started.