Friday, August 7, 2009

Credit Card Query

Well Heeled wrote a post today about a decision she's facing: whether or not to get another credit card. This reminded me that I'm supposed to be thinking about getting a credit card - something I've been toying with for a few years but have never gotten around to doing.

This is the comment I left after her post (where she asked readers how many cards they have). I'm re-posting it here in hopes that some of you can weigh in on the subject. Thanks in advance!
I have zero credit cards. I use my debit card for everything...and so far, I've liked that. I have GOOD credit (from car payments, rent, cell phone, student loans, etc) - as far as I know anyway - but not very MUCH credit.

I have recently been thinking that I should get a credit card to use for things like bills - where I know I will pay it off each month. I don't worry about making extravagant purchases I can't afford; I worry that I'll use my credit card for basic purchases and "forget" that that money is no longer really available to use in my bank account, and then think I have more money than I really do...does that make sense? I guess I'd just have to be more careful about keeping track and knowing that the balance in my checking account isn't truly accurate.

Does anyone recommend a particular credit card for a beginner? :-) I have Wells Fargo, and I want a card with some sort of rewards but no annual fee. Interest isn't a huge issue because I plan on paying it off each month.
So yes. Do you have a card that you love? Do you have any recommendations? I don't need advice about budgeting or living within my means or any of that - I know how to do that. I just want to establish some credit for myself in a responsible way, and earn some rewards on the side!


  1. I think credit is a double edged sword. I like having one - knowing that I have the card to rely on in case of an emergency, using it for airfare and to reserve hotel rooms - all good purposes.

    Buuut it also gives you the ability to buy things you really can't afford. Which I do. Or, should I say, did. A couple of large bills knocked some sense into me!

    Before I got the cards, I told myself I wouldn't abuse them but so far I haven't seen any real rewards..and it is tempting to abuse them! They are a good thing, as long as you're careful.

  2. You can get a credit card with a rewards program through Wells. I have one and just cashed in my rewards points for $400 worth of gift cards. :)

  3. Thanks for mentioning this. I had some money waiting to be paid off on my credit card because the British consulate website wouldn't accept my debit card (because they're a bunch of backward wazzocks who's computer system entered my information improperly and caused my bank to call me and ask if my card had been stolen--stressful) and I promptly forgot to transfer the funds over. That's the beauty of credit cards--they never remind you that you have an outstanding balance, in order to keep your money accruing interest. So yes, I've gone ahead and paid that off. Thanks for the inadvertent heads-up.

  4. I have an Amazon Visa card which gives me decent rewards useable at Amazon, ($25 for every $2500 spent, with each $1 spent at Amazon counting as $10), no annual fee, and I pay it off monthly so I don't care about the interest. I've had this card since 2006; before that, since 2002, I had a Wells Fargo Visa card associated with my accounts there. That one was okay, the rewards were good for gift cards at various places but they often changed the availability right when I'd save up enough for one I really wanted. Shit, I think I still have some points on that one... I'm also kind of intrigued by the United frequent flyer mile Visa, though, since you get 30,000 miles just to sign up -- which is a free continental U.S. roundtrip ticket. I'd suggest comparing cards and seeing what you like -- try

  5. Clearly I have some research to do. I may end up just going with Wells Fargo b/c it will be easy. There are too many options!! Also, I don't care about APR if I plan to pay it off every month, right?

  6. I love my Costco American Express. It gives 3% cash back on gas and restaurants, 2% on travel and 1% on everything else. No annual fee (except for the Costco membership, which I would get anyway)

    My approach to credit is never to spend more than I actually have. I never use my debit card unless I go to the ATM for some cash and always use my credit card. Whenever I check my checking account balance, I check my Amex balance to make sure things are good. Also, I always pay off my credit card balance in full within days of receiving the statement.

  7. Thanks Lettie. I'm actually considering the Costco Amex, depending on what I can get through Wells Fargo. And I like your approach to credit. That sounds like a good idea.