Here comes the Jack of Hearts

I’m leaving Chile this morning and heading back to the UK. But before I go, this week’s card …

My prince of reality checks has come. Jack says I must confront my credit cards. This is a 3 step dance — part investigative, part just-do-it!

The Nike part comes first.

I’ve 2 credit cards in my wallet (a VISA and an AMEX) and one lying around at home (not sure… a Virgin Mastercard? All I know is it’s pink).

I need to check what I owe on each and clear those amounts if possible  (my goal for the first 3 months of the year is to wipe out all non-secured debt*).

To do this I’ll need to track down various pins and passwords … I’d like to think that this time I’ll come up with a more fool-proof place to log that personal data for future reference. There’s nothing like this sort of paperwork-related memory loss to trigger the most virulent form of procrastination. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. I need a password tracker.
Somewhere obvious to me but not to thieves.

Once accessed and hopefully cleared, the 2nd step to confronting my credit cards involves understanding what using them costs me. What does that little APR mean? Theoretically I get it, cash-wise I don’t. It’s time to rip off this band-aid of ignorance.

Finally, the 3rd part of this exercise involves asking the most obvious follow-on question … how do my credit cards stack up against their rivals? Is it time to cut the ones I have in half and maybe apply for something smarter? More fundamentally, do I really need them at all?

Next week I’ll reveal the secrets that my credit cards reveal under the swinging light bulb of interrogation.

*Can’t recall when I learnt this term, but basically it means everything I owe except for my mortgage.

7 thoughts on “Here comes the Jack of Hearts

  1. Credit card debt is the bane of my existence…. keeps me up at night….. since I first received my first credit card at 17 years of age….. oh the history of recklessness…. the shoes, dresses, rings, watches……the only thing I do not regret completely are my trips- always well worth it. It seems to me that the only reason to have a credit card is to acquire air miles. We are in the process of researching a credit card that has really good air mile points so that we can travel more economically. I know that many of my family and friends have done this over the years, and it seems well worth it. Other than that, credit cards are EVIL. My new theory: if you can’t afford it today, DO NOT buy it. I do miss those credit cards though…..

    1. Am thinking the same thing. Except for the odd time when buying something online or in a foreign country, credit cards bad news. Airmiles is one of my big frustrations. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I obviously am — since I should have loads but never do. It’s a separate Counting 000’s project to nail miles — but I’ll definitely be trying to figure out this week if there are credit cards I should be considering … Mum is in the US and seems to have a good card for miles — I’ll ask her which one she uses (for your research)


  2. Hello! Sounds like you had a productive week in Chile!

    A couple of thoughts:
    1) On passwords (and all the other crap you are expected to remember to access your online accounts) – I keep everything as memos with slightly cryptic titles in the memopad function on my blackberry. I figure that at least the bberry itself is password protected which may delay any potential info thief if I lose the bloody thing. And this is also replicated to Lotusnotes so there is back up if you do lose it.

    2) Have you thought about consolidating all of your credit card debt and paying it off with a bank loan – you would almost certainly get a better rate of interest and you could choose how long a period to repay it over and pay off a fixed amount per month. After that, then you probably need to apply Heidi’s advice and try not to use them. I’m not convinced that miles, cashback etc… ever really pay off for the customer – after all the reason for offering them is to entice you to build up debt and pay it off at heinous interest rates.

    Hope this helps. Lx

  3. Using Berry is great idea and one I’ve partially stuck to before, so now’s the time to make it more systematic. You’re probably one of the few people who realizes am still stuck with Lotus Notes!!!

    Re credit cards — it’ll be Wednesday before I take a crack at the comparison thing re points etc. Am thinking (very naively?) that the idea would be to pay off cards monthly to get the airmiles? Am toying with — I do feel I’ve never taken advantage of mile offers as I should & airfare is one of my big expenditures — but agreed, am sure when I do the math the interest rate on credit cards make the whole thing a false economy unless there’s a way to avoid the interest pile up … which, of course, would require discipline I’ve no track record of displaying

    thanks for sending me your tips and advice! xx

    1. As you know, I have travelled a lot historically and built up giant stockpiles of airmiles on multiple airlines and what I can say that is often extremely difficult to be able to use them as you want, as there are so few airmiles seats available on the flights where it is actually worth it to use them (long haul). It usually takes massively long term planning to be able to use them. For example, I’m currently trying to get a business class flight to Australia via Hong Kong. I have more than enough miles for this but can’t get a single flight in April or May which is when I actually want to go and am now considering October/November when there does appear to be some availability. So, while earning them may be nice, you do actually have to be able to use them for it to be worthwhile so maybe you also need to factor in your travel-planning habits – unless you normally plan far in advance, having the miles may not be worth much.

      p.s. I’m stuck with notes too so I feel your pain 🙂

  4. that’s exactly what my dad says and he has gazillions of miles. my mom on the other hand seems to ace the system for all her flights … she uses American. Anyway — for this wk, credit cards — coming soon deep dive into the mystery of airmiles. Sometimes I think there’s a real “loss of life” element to half the discounts or rebates or complaints re money owed that I always feel I “should” pursue but rarely do …. xx

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