Monday, March 17, 2008

The Credit Card Novice

A week or two back, while I was blog hopping, I came across a post from Nessa of Mumblings. She was ranting about this woman who was using a credit card to pay for one or two items. That post gave me quite a chuckle and it also brought back some memories about the first time I ever owned my own credit card all those years ago.

Back when I first started working, I always envied people who had credit cards. If you had a credit card in those days it meant you were someone big, it showed that you've made it in life. Back then my salary wasn't enough for me to qualify for a credit card. Even after working for close to 3 years, I still didn't earn enough to get one. Hey, a graphic designer back in those days didn't earn much, k!

I remember all my cousins would gather round during the weekends and flash their credit cards and I'd just envy them. I vowed to work hard and earn enough to get one (Damn, I was stupid back then!). But after about 5 years of working and switching fields from the creative department to the client service department and getting a raise my salary still didn't quite cut it yet. The requirements for owning a credit card was pretty steep in those days.

One day, one of those credit card sales person made a stopover at my office to promote their card and he convinced me to sign up. Even though I told him I didn't really qualify yet, he said never mind, you just might get lucky. So, with nothing to lose, I signed up. And totally forgot about it for the next one month cos I didn't really expect them to approve my application.

After about 5 weeks or so, I came home from work one day and see this letter from the credit card company informing me that my application has been approved and that I can go over to their office to pick up my card. I was shocked yet elated by the news. Woohoo, I've finally made it. I'm in the big leagues now. I can spend, spend, spend without using money I thought.

'Urrmmm, you do know that you have to pay all that back at the end of the month don't you?'

Yeah, yeah, I knew that part but for that moment in time I couldn't care less. All that mattered was that I had a credit card! So, I hurriedly went to collect my card the next day. And upon reaching the office, I ripped the envelope open and start showing off to all my colleagues ... hehehe ... And I told them that I couldn't wait to start using it and that immediately after work I was going to go shopping.

Then moment work was over that day, I headed to the mall near my house on the way home. Ok, now comes the part that's really embarrassing for me to admit. I didn't know how to actually use a credit card! Yes, it's the truth. I may have been harping all my life that I wanted a card but once I actually got it I didn't know how to use it.

There I was after picking out a few things and about to head to the counter when I stop dead in my tracks and wonder if they actually accept credit cards here or not. What do I do with it? Just head over to the cashier and give it to her or what? You see back in those days, credit cards were not acceptable in all places. So there I was, with my hands full of stuff wondering just how the heck was I going to find out if they accepted cards or not. I could have always asked the cashier I know but hey, I wasn't going to look like a doofus who just got his credit card in front of him now, ok.

So, I decided to just quietly lurk around the cashier area pretending I was looking at things while waiting for the next customer to pay so I could see if he was using cash or card but unfortunately all the next few customers all paid in cash. Darn! I couldn't lurk around too much, they might suspect me as someone who has a thing for the cashier or something ... LOL! So, I try to sneak a peek at the bottom of the cashier terminal to see if they had that manual swiping machine they used back in those days but I couldn't see any sign of it. Darn it again!

Then my luck holds out cos finally there is a customer who is paying by card. I quickly head to the cashier and proudly hand her my card when my turn comes. And then she goes through the routine of swiping it and then calling card issuer for the approval code and this takes quite sometime. She's hanging on the line and looking at my card front and back and at me and that's when I start to sweat. All kinds of questions run through my mind.

Is the card active? Did I use it to soon (afterall I only got it the same afternoon). Maybe it's fake and she's hit the secret hidden button on the floor and a SWAT team is on the way up . And just when I'm about to collapse from worry, she finally gets the approval code and hands me the slip to sign. With a huge sigh of relieve I take the slip and sign my first ever credit card transaction! Boy, that was a really harrowing experience ... LOL! You can't blame me right? I never used a credit card in my life prior to that, ok? It's not like they had any immediate credit card care service back then for me to call and find out how to use a credit card.

Ever since then I've become a pro with the credit card, in fact a little too much of a pro that I almost ruined myself financially with credit card overspending. It's no longer glamorous to own a credit card as far as I'm concerned. I've since given up using it except for online usage and such! Other than that, it's cash or nothing for me. At least I won't have to stand at the cashier with my heart beating, sweating and hoping that the transaction goes through ... LOL!

28 comments:

  1. Oh how I wish I knew the pitfalls of credit BEFORE i had to learn first hand! Cute story, though! I remember feeling all grown-up when I first used my first one, conveniently forgetting I had to pay it all back!

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  2. hi nick (first time commenting here (o: )! yeah, i totally agree with you - I ONLY have one CC now (with minimum limit). ha ha used to have a few and boy, was it tough to get rid of them. (lessons learned!)

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  3. LOL! u didnt know how to use a credit card back then? i had a good laugh reading yr story. You're a fantastic story teller! :)

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  4. Exactly how i felt when i first got mine too. Tried the same day I got it. Felt nervous thinking whether the card was acceptable or not. LOL!

    Before, I didn't realize how one swipe could mean triple debt. Now, just looking at the plastic card makes me shiver at the thought of not able to pay up they debt. I am still working to clear them up. :(

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  5. haha.. I remember those days.. those returning from overseas was bragging that they could apply for credit cards easily and had all of us wishing we could own one too! ahh.. those innocent years

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  6. dont feel bad. I would have NO IDEA what to so with a credit card either!

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  7. I blame your overspending on the credit card guy who convinced you to get one in the first place, you might get lucky it seems ha ha ha :)

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  8. I remember those days! The excitement of receiving a credit card. And a store card. And a cheque book. Etc. Etc. But it's not so exciting paying it all back!
    Good story, I was picturing you in my head, lurking around the cash desk!

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  9. Credit cards are EVIL, I learned that the hard way.

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  10. Jillian - Yeah, same here. The clause about paying back what I spent was a wee bit too small ... LOL!

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  11. Osindak - First of all, welcome to my blog :D

    I had a bunch of credit cards too, to the point where I lost track of my spending. I should have never applied for them in the first place! LOL!

    But I'm all the wiser now, at least I'd like to think so ... LOL!

    Hope to see you around here more often.

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  12. Jean - No, I didn't. I was like a blur case la ... first card and all ... LOL! After the first use, I became a pro, in fact too much of a pro even!

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  13. Carol - Good to know I'm not the only one who went through first time credit card usage anxieties ... LOL!

    Yeah, that piece of plastic is EVIL to the max. I'm also still working on clearing up all my debts which is going to take like forever!

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  14. Hi Nick,

    It is always feel good and proud to own ur first credit card under your name, but supplementary from ur parent etc! Hahaha! That was how i felt when I have my own card few years back! Believe it or not? I only owned a credit card when I actually work. even when my dad sub his card to me, i seldom use it! LOL!

    Yes, now that i am more matured, i dont feel that credit card is actually helping with my daily financial needs and not more that glamorous too! It can be an angel (life saving) and devil (in deep credit) at the same time!! We just have to live with them!

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  15. Sting - LOL! I wonder what it is with credit cards that makes one feel superior over other. I remember standing at the cashier and looking at people paying with cash and remarking: What? No card ah? Aiyaaa ...

    Little did I know I was the foolish one for having a credit card instead!

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  16. Meleah - Thanks, now I don't feel so bad. At least I know I'm not the only blur case in this world ... LOL!

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  17. Marzie - Hmmm, you do seem to have a valid point there. Maybe I should go look for that salesman and beat the life out of him ... LOL! It won't make my debt disappear but it sure as hell would make me happy ... LOL!

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  18. The world according to me - Oh ya, those were the good and stupid days when I had a host of things that would give me good credit terms but like you said the paying back is not so exciting. In fact I didn't realize we even had to pay back ... LOL!

    LOL, I was surprised they didn't call security :D

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  19. Tammy - I agree with you 200%! LOL!

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  20. Rose - I have to agree with you. If used wisely it can be heaven sent n times of need or even in emergencies, but most of the time the urge to splurge is just too great. Can't blame to card really, I guess it all lies in how much will power we have to resist spending unnecessarily, ya?

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  21. Hi nick,your first experience in using a credit card is very interesting.hehehe!I got my very first credit card form my hubby..and till now i still don't like to use it.kekeke so what are you going to do if they really don't accept credit card huh?Got enough cash or not at that time?:)

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  22. Hahaha You're too funny! I hate credit cards tho cos you don't realize how much ur spending. When the bill comes and the daddy calls, then whoops! Me so sowwie! Hehehe

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  23. Sweetiepie - Urmmm, if they didn't accept a credit card, I'd have to put back all the things cos I didn't have enough cash with me at that time ... LOL! It sure would have looked even more embarrassing! LOL!

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  24. Rozella - LOL! Yeah, that's the dreaded time isn't it, when the bill comes!

    It's so easy to just spend without weighing the consequences, especially with a credit card. Them things are evil, I tell ya! :D

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  25. Ha ha, it's quite funny trying to imagine you sneaking around and hiding behind the clothes rack, looking at other customers paying by credit card...

    there's always a first time for everything. :-)

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  26. BT - LOL! It sure was a funny sight! What to do, never use credit card before ... LOL!

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  27. Nick,
    psstt...I was that naive too when I got my first credit card:P

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  28. Jen - LOL! At least I got company in the naive section ...

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