Saturday, March 31, 2012

My first credit card

I think my first credit card was a pretty standard thing. I was 19 and a sophomore in college at North Carolina State University. Some VISA guys had a booth set up near the Free Expression Tunnel and were giving away NCSU t-shirts, just for filling out a credit card application.

Man, if I knew then, what I know now...

I signed up, of course, and even used my real name and address. For whatever reason, VISA decided I'd be a good income source and sent me a 3 x 5 piece of plastic with a magnetic strip on the back. Merchants in the bookstore and mall (yeah, I went to the mall then, I was so 1997!) were all too eager to swipe my card, take my free money, and give me stuff I didn't need.

Throughout college I used the card, whether I had money or not (usually I did because I had a great job delivering pizza). I managed to max the card out a few times, but then, the limit was around $1,000 or so. I remember one distinct time when I bought a couple pairs of pants at Abercrombie and Fitch, simply because I had made a credit card payment, and therefore, had the "money" to do so. Ugh, I hate looking back at that.

Each time I got the card maxed out, I'd pay some off and would get a bump in my credit limit. (They must really like me!)

I never missed a payment, though, through the years of college and slightly beyond, the balanced ballooned up to over $3,000. That was enough, and as I got serious with my (future wife) girlfriend, I went to work paying it off. I paid most of it off before I graduated but kept it around, just in case I needed it. My emergency fund, before I knew what that was.

I kept that card, or a different version of it until February 2011 when we performed plastic surgery and got rid of it for good. I've been without a credit card for over a year and with an emergency fund (more on that later) in place, I'm not ever planning on going back.

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