Your first credit card stories
- I realize I am off topic but it is horrendous now-a-days for a student going off to college to get a simple credit card in their name. They can't! We wanted our daughter to have a credit card to pay for books and other large purchases or at places that did not take checks. She couldn't get one. We finally added her to our Amex account. I had a credit card through my student checking account back in the early 80's. I only charged college items on it and we paid it off in full every month. It allowed me to build a credit history early on.
- My first credit card was obtained in the late 70's. "Back in the day", we got to write off the interest on our taxes. That changed with Tax Reform Act of 1986 when Reagan was in office. The interest no longer being a tax write-off did cause me to use it less, which was good for me, but maybe not as good for the economy. I have never been "attached" to any credit card. As long as the interest was low, I kept it. Today, I have 7 credit cards with over $150K available, and I only use one and pay it off each month. The others are stashed away and only kept because of negative credit score impact if I closed them out.
- I got my first credit card when I was 16 or 17 -- it was a condition of getting my driver's license that I have an easy way to pay for gas and guard against emergencies. Yes, I still have that card (and another), and I've never paid a dime in interest or fees. Here's what I think worked: when my mother explained to me how the card would work, she never told me that I had the option of NOT paying the full balance at the end of the month. In essence, she left out the "credit" part in the credit card lesson. As a result, I didn't know it was possible to pay less than the full monthly balance for YEARS. (I always wondered how the companies stayed in business...) It's funny in retrospect, but at 30, I've never paid less than the full balance on a credit card--and I use my two cards for almost every purchase all month long. It's simply a convenient way to track my spending (and rack up points in return, which net some nice gift cards a couple of times per year) that's more secure than a debit card--not a method for creating debt.
- I had a full, merit-based college scholarship (VERY grateful for that) and I never signed up for a credit card because I didn't think I needed one (I didn't). By the time I had settled into my fist full-time, post-college, salaried job at 22, I was still debt free and had amassed decent savings, but BECAUSE I didn't have any debt to prove what kind of risk I would be, no one wanted to give me a credit card. It was like being punished for doing the right thing my whole life. I managed to get approved for a no-perks card with a relatively average annual fee that I used on gas and paid in full and on time every month.
- I signed up for my first credit card in order to get a free burrito from La Bomba. I was a college freshman and did not give the transaction much thought beyond the free food.. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. I got the credit card in the mail a few weeks later. It was blue and pink and said "MTV" on it in huge letters. Despite my embarrassment over the appearance of the MTV card, I still handed it to plenty of cashiers, and it did not take me long to run up the entire $780 credit limit. It hung over my head for a few years since I only paid the $10 minimum throughout college, but soon after I graduated and got my first job, I paid off the balance in full.. Now I keep it in in a block of ice in my freezer.. I don't want to use it, but I don't want to close it, either.
- I think I got my first credit card from a regional department store. I included a letter with my credit application asking for a low credit limit ($200) so that I could start to build my credit, I was probably 17 at the time (1981). From there, I got another one, and learned how to handle credit so that I wouldn't have to pay interest.
- I got my first credit card when I travelled overseas to Europe (from Australia) with a $1000 limit and with my mother to guarantee it. I kept that same card with the same limit until I was 30 (I'm 45 now). I now have one card with a $2500 limit which I use constantly and pay in total each month. I do not like to pay interest on credit cards. Having the card allows for flexibility in my money, and at the same time responsibility for paying for the flexibility.
- Signed up with a local credit union a few months after i immigrated to US for a secured credit card. Mainly used it for groceries till i built up some credit history. Still have it (now unsecured with a decent credit limit) and continue to bank with the same credit union after all these years. Shout out to San Diego County Credit Union. Zero cost for me since i have never carried a balance or made any late payments.
- Got my first credit card after I graduated from college in 1984 in order to purchase a $200 vacuum cleaner. It think it was through (the now defunct) Montgomery Wards department store. Seeing as how I didn't have any money management skills (you are reading about someone who went to college not knowing what a checking account was . . . or what a obtaining a college loan entailed . . but more about that later!) I immediately maxed out the Monkey Wards card and a 2nd card to the tune of about $1,100. And while that might not be a crazy balance by today's standards, at the time it was more than my monthly take-home pay. I hate to think about what portion of that balance was actually due to the ridiculous monthly interest rates + overage fees + late fees. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of CCC (Consumer Credit Counseling) services, whose very nice representative taught me about budgeting. I seem to remember that by working with CCC, it provided an indication of 'good faith effort' on your part with the debt holder, and therefore a level of protection from the dreaded debt collector calls, additional fees, etc. I also seem to remember that CCC could even get some people's debt reduced based on ability to repay. (Remind you of anything?!?!?) I can still remember the terror I felt when I really understood what I had so unwisely done by running up the card balance beyond what I could reasonably hope to pay off in a lump sum, and ultimately ruining my credit worthiness. I call the phenomenon of using credit to make an excessively expensive purchase 'getting stars in your eyes' because the allure of your desired blinds you to the reality of the pay-back. It took a long time for me not to fall down that slippery slope several more times, but thankfully those days are behind me.
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