Thursday, March 27, 2008

Credit Card Shuffle

Okay. The truth is that I have too many credit cards. And I shuffle them. It's sort of like a ponzi game. I apply for the cards that offer the No Interest Until Armageddon option, get one, transfer the balance on a card that is coming close to Armageddon, close the account and move on. Meanwhile, I pay absolutely no interest. Ever.

This morning, I transferred the balance on my Washington Mutual card to Citibank because I am due to start paying interest in April on WaMu. Guess which card has my recent trip on it? Yep. WaMu. Now I will have a year longer to pay it off without interest.

This gets rather complicated but the point of this post isn't to lament my financial problems.

These credit card companies make me laugh!

Each time I get an offer in the mail from some company, they try to entice me with all kinds of choices. Would I like a picture of my dog on my card? How about Disney characters? My picture? The Grand Canyon?

No Khon Kaen? No boats on the Chao Phraya?

But I have to choose something. The application will not be processed without choosing my very own card design. So many critical choices!

I'm content with a plain old grey plastic card with numbers, a logo and expiration date on it.

Perhaps what they should do is allow us to send a photograph from our personal collections and have them put on the plastic.

Can you imagine? Self-expression while getting further in debt. Perhaps we can design our own cards with our very own artwork! Or we can list all of our significant interests and hobbies, kind of like a personals ad.

Might as well.

I can't do anything else. I owe too much credit card debt.


So tell me your credit card horror stories.



Julie Pippert said...

We live in terror of debt because our budget is so tight. Meanwhile, salary barely goes up while expenses shoot up like rockets.

I only have a debit card and an American Express, which is plain gray. I'm fine with that. No need to make it fancier or more "personal," LOL.

So what did you choose?

Rima said...

I did not have a credit card or a penny of debt to my name until I got married and inherited the P-Dawg's med school and college debt. Ack!

But the irony is that, once I was in my twenties and had a well paying job, I desperately wanted a credit card and could not get approved for one because - guess what? - I had no credit history.

Blog Antagonist said...

Six years ago, we were in your shoes, but probably times ten. I won't throw out a number, because it's profoundly embarassing how deeply we were in debt.

We decided to take control of our debt with the help of a credit management company. We researched several before deciding on one that would help us without trying to dictate how every single penny was spent.

Long story took us five long years and during that time, we had a very strict budget. It was frustrating and disheartening sometimes. But we persevered and are now debt free; with the exception of the mortgage and one care payment. My spendthrift husband is reformed (although all the blame cannot be placed on him) and we are doing much better.

We don't even have a credit card for "emergencies" like most people. Instead take a portion of each paycheck and put it into an interest bearing savings account. This is our emergency fund and we don't touch it for anything except emergencies.

It *really* feels good to have the monkey off our backs.

Blue Rage said...

I see your Shuffle Board and I raise you my "try not to pay minimum payments by balance transfers" scheme. This is a true art. It requires timing and constant Transfering. If done right, you can avoid paying minimum payments, if you do it wrong, the universe collapses. I think im partially responsible for the subprime mess. Too bad you cant get miles with balance transfers... cause that would be the next step of my scheme

molly said...

And to think that I fling mst of those offers in the recycling bin, when I could save myself from paying interest!! Trouble is I hate having to keep track of the million pieces each account sends you. But! I hate interest charges more.....maybe I should reconsider!

dmmgmfm said...

No real horror stories to tell you about, I just wanted to say hello and that I have been thinking of you.


thailandchani said...

Julie, I always figure that if I absolutely can't handle it, I'd file Chapter 11. Hopefully, that will never occur. It's not that hard to stay out of debt but my low income almost requires a credit card - or two - or three.

I chose some mountain scene that looked like northern Colorado. It felt hokey. :)


Rima, I remember a time when I had to go through that, too. I did it with a secured credit card. It's that old conundrum. Can't get a job without experience and can't get experience without a job.


BA, I'll be glad when the trip gets paid off. That's really my primary debt. The truth is that my debt is manageable and okay - but I don't like paying interest. I started doing this switching routine, getting new cards that allow me to transfer balances and closing down the old ones. My FICO score is going through the roof, too. It's been a useful strategy.


Maestro, I would definitely like to get miles. None of my cards are offering miles right now. I wouldn't be in debt if it wasn't for *miles*!! Mainly 7,930 of them. LOL


Molly, it works. At least as long as you remember to cancel the old cards. Otherwise your FICO score goes down. Mine went down when I didn't cancel one that was paid off... so I finally got around to it.. and FICO shot back up.


Gill said...

Right now it's all about keeping the balances in check.
Keep paying them down.
I have one left to pay down.
You have no idea how excited that makes me!
I am on a NO SPEND thingie right now.
Loving it.

flutter said...

Oh, but all of my debt is in student loans.


Carla said...

My only credit card horror story was having my cards (including my bank card) stolen while traveling out of the country. It was a pain, I had very little cash on me and it took me the better part of a day to sort that problem out.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I've considered shuffling the cards as you do but it would be a full-time job keeping track of them all.

I throw away about a dozen pre-approved card offers weekly. We only use our debit cards these days. If we don't have it, we can't spend it.

niobe said...

Your idea for submitting your own photo for a credit card is an absolutely brilliant marketing strategy.

Anonymous said...

There is a company now that lets you put your own picture on there...not that I'm advocating or anything but I think it's MBNA. I just saw the ad the other day.

I wonder if someone financially savvy could use that strategy against them - put a picture of something you really want and are saving for - like a Harley or vacation spot - to remind you that every time you use that credit card your dream is a little more out of reach.

thailandchani said...

Laurie, thanks. :) I hope you'll let me know how you are doing.


Gillian, I'm sort of "not spending" but then I occasionally need the cards for something. My objective is to pay them off though.


Flutter, oh yes.. the student loans. (I remember them... too well :) There's no way to transfer those to a no-interest credit card, is there? As I recall, my student loans were interest free but are they now?


Carla, ugh.. yes! I can imagine! Now that I think of it, I did travel with mine. That sounds just horrible! I can't even begin to imagine how you straightened that out in one day~


Susan, that is basically what I was doing before "the trip" that maxed out WaMu. In paying that off, I then end up using the others to fill in the gap created by the WaMy payment. Well, you can see where this is going! LOL


Niobe, I think there are some cards that will put an individual's picture on the card - kind of like a passport photo. So it wasn't my idea. I just extrapolated it. :)


Heather, actually I think that's a very good idea. If someone would be motivated by that to keep their card in the wallet, it would be a very good thing!


Girlplustwo said...

i was in this same pickle until recently, but we've really buckled down and paid it all off. i can't tell you how relieved that made me.

anne said...

I try to carry as little debt as I can. I hate the idea of "owing".

The day I pay off my mortgage will be a happy day indeed.

Sai Hijara - Ferraris said...

Wow, no interest thing is not just offered here...once you reached 30 days, you pay 3 to 3.5% interest each time I use my card, either I pay the full amount within 30 days or pay interest forever 'til I've written my debt off...very sad.

I have only 3 credit cards...CitiBank, HSBC and Unionbank, a local bank here. Well, I have another Citibank...but they're supplementary from Yummy and my parents...they have bigger credit limits! LOL

And I'm with you, I just want my card to have the basic info...log, name, exp date...nothing fancy!

I wish we have offers like what you have...I would gladly play the float and do what you are doing, I just find it smart. ;)

hele said...

I have a healthy fear of credit after working in a credit bureau. So when I sold my flat the first thing I did was pay of all my debts. Now my only fear is that the bank will realize that I don't have money and confiscate my credit card despite the fact that I transfer money from my savings into it every now and again.

thailandchani said...

Jen, I'm sure I will pay this off, too. Hopefully before I make a final move. Taking debt with me is an icky thought.


Anne, I actually went many years without credit cards at all. If I couldn't pay cash, I just didn't have it. Now the credit cards are supposed to be serving me. Sometimes they don't. :)


Mariposa, that's weird. They don't have those interest-free until hell freezes over enticements? It won't be long. I'm sure. The credit card companies want us indebted to them.


Hele, they can confiscate your credit line? I didn't even know they could do that. I have a few with a zero balance (truly emergency cards LOL) and I figured they'd stay active indefinitely. If that's not the case, I'll put Earthlink or Netflix on them and pay it off each month.


we_be_toys said...

I'm not allowed to have a credit card anymore. Actually neither of us (me and the hubs) are allowed to have a credit card anymore. We cut them up and are living without them, and only using money saved to buy extra stuff. So far, so good, but...I'll let you know how that works out!

bokjae said...

My greatest shock from credit card was a one time statment years ago that said I owed them 40k! Well finally they traced it to fraud and I was not required to pay a single cent! Whoosh!

Anonymous said...

I'm with flutter on the student loan hell. As for credit card hell...

Didn't have one until my late 20's. Scared the bejebus out of me. Didn't believe in 'em: if I didn't the cash to buy "x", "x" wasn't necessary. Finally relented in order to rent a car while traveling. Flaming furious at the societal demand I possess plastic in order to proceed with something. Ludicrous! Managed to not put a dime on it, too, until...

Back to college...and tens of thousands of student loan dollars later which seriously impaired my ability to pay more than the monthly minimum.

Bottom line: 12 years to pay off at least 10 times the 2K that never seemed to go away and kept acculumating...a car repair here...a dental bill know the song...

Finally got the measley, omnipresent 2 grand down to zero last year and finished the muthuh. The student loans will be done when I'm in my late 60's or mid-70's and I'm figuring I won't be around then anyway so I win! Yea, me!

While my one balance was too big for me, I know many, many, many, many folks who carry multiple cards and seriously high balances. Frankly, I don't know how they manage. I'm pretty good at creating budgets and systems so I've assisted friends and patients over the years in creating easy ways to simplify and regain control.

The only plastic I'm interested in these days is the kind that lifts and removes age. If only I had the money...LOL!

Brandi Reynolds said...

remember when getting personalized check designs was a big deal?? What cute design expresses who I am as a person???


Brandi Reynolds said...

remember when getting personalized check designs was a big deal?? What cute design expresses who I am as a person???


Christine said...

i don't really have any real horror stories, but that hello kitty card is crazy!

Anonymous said...

I don't like having any debt, but if you're going to have some for a while, this transfer thing is definitely the way to go if you can remember to do it in time. You're beating them at their own game. Ha!

thailandchani said...

We-be... Yes, let me know. :) I admit that I am not willing to live without a credit card. That's almost too much because of my fixed income. For elective things, I can understand saving up but most of my shopping is done on eBay and other on-line stores so I need the card for that.


Bokjae, yes... whoosh! That's a scary one. I recently got LifeLock and I'm hoping that will prevent anyone from tapping into my (non-existent) wealth. Seriously though.. identity theft is something that really bothers me, knowing how long it took me to clean up my credit before. Now my FICO score is worth a lot to me.


Wendy, systems seem to be the key. I have my own weird little system, too, because being late on a card would really bother me. A lot.


Dandelion, yes... personalized checks. It's interesting to think of what icon might represent any of us. I was never good at that. My checks are the economy line. LOL


Christine, that Hello Kitty credit card just made me ill! What next? Credit cards for children? Yeeks! Starting them younger and younger into debt slavery.


Kelly, yeah.. the transfer thing is good. I've found I have to watch closely though because of the associated fees. Sometimes it's quite a bit!


Catherine said...

Isn't it funny? I'd prefer a plain ol' card.

We transfered some of our mortgage to a zero interest - very nice...

Anonymous said...

That's a greta idea about being able to use your own photo.

I have just a couple of credit cards, but they are both ones that pay me a percentage of what I spend. Since I pay them in full each month, I get short-term interest free loans and a bonuus pay-back. I use them for virtually everything.

storyteller said...

I’ve been ‘lurking’ … appreciative of the fact that you include your entire post in Google Reader as I do … but thought I’d stop to say hello today. I don’t pay much attention to Site Meter, but I’ve left it in place in case I ever want to check stats. I don’t really understand how folks do ‘searches’ to track visitors anyway.

Like you … I find walking meditation works better for me than ‘sitting’ … and I’ve been giving thought to picking up Tai Chi once again to get me moving purposefully. I’ve enjoyed your Wellness Wednesday posts … loved quotes and photos (especially the lab swimming) … you and I seem to have many issues in common and your ‘reflections’ often ‘resonate’ with my own.

The ‘credit’ issue is one divergence. Being raised by a Dutch mom who instilled in me the thought that I shouldn’t spend money I don’t have … helped me immensely … especially when going through my divorce proceedings … and I suspect it’s why I’ve been able to ‘retire’ w/o getting a part-time job … though ‘enforced contributions’ to retirement from the time I was 17 helped too. I’m happy for you that the ‘credit card shuffle’ empowers you to manage your debt w/o incurring interest. My mom would have been impressed by that choice!

Hugs and blessings,

QT said...

Chani - I did this for awhile, but I got tired of keeping track, as you've said, of what was closed and what wasn't. Since I get paid in large chunks of money infrequently, my debt load fluctuates pretty dramatically. Last year at this time I was debt-free, right now I'm not, but it isn't as bad as the time my ex-h and I owed the IRS $40K. That is a punch in the gut, lemme tell you!

painted maypole said...

ooooh... be careful. jumping around credit cards is bad for your credit report.

i have used the same boring mastercard for 12 years, which i got right before i graduated from college, because everyone wants to give a card to a student at a great college, but no one wants to give one to an unemployed actress.

Mary said...

Actually, I don't have any credit card horror stories - except that I like having them and tend to abuse them now and then. You made me laugh out loud with this:

"Self-expression while getting further in debt."

Credit card companies really know how to suck us in, don't they?

Angela said...

I'm so glad that someone else does the credit card shuffle. I lived for nearly 20 years fairly well that way. Now I'm just trying to dig myself out -- though I am not really working on it -- just wishing for it with more passion than I used to. No pretty cards for me, though. I figure I use them enough as they are!

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