Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Secret Shame

So I have a secret shame. One which I hadn't even realized until yesterday. I am an avid credit card user and have been very responsible about using it like a checking account. No late fees, no overcharges, no interest. All bills are paid in full.

But the secret shame? Well guess how many credit cards I have? I decided to count yesterday, drumroll please. We have at least 14 cards between the two of us that I know about. Ouch.

My secret shame is I haven't cancelled a credit card in years. I don't exactly know why not either. We've got 4 store credit cards (BB, HD, Gap, Jordan's), none are in use, but I do get coupons for having them.

For the other 11 cards, well DH and I each have a individual american express, discover, and visa, probably because we were trying to build his credit so he got his own cards years ago when we first meet. That's 6 cards, and the other 4 are joint cards. We definitely use 2 mastercards, one exclusively and the other as a backup if we max out our rewards for the year.

I think that's the problem. We couldn't settle on a backup card for our usage. I am considering getting a Citibank CashReturns Card which gievs 5% back for 3 months. Because I am charging DH's tuition to the tune of $15k. Hence 5% back is $750.

But until I sit and discuss with DH what we should keep or cancel, I guess I have to live with the secret shame. Also I will probably need to pull our credit reports to check everything out. So how many credit cards do you have?


Penelope @ Our Fourpence Worth said...

First of all, I don't think you need to be ashamed of having all those credit cards if you're responsible with them. Yes, 14 is quite a few, but you're not maxed out on any of them and pay all your charges in full, right? And they're essentially backups for a true emergency.

My sister and I share everything (joint bank account, credit cards, house, etc.) and we both have additional user cards for all our accounts. These are the cards we have:

1. American Express Blue Cash (in my sister's name), which we use wherever we can that takes AMEX

2. Amazon Visa (in my name) for shopping on Amazon where we do the majority of our online shopping and anywhere we can't use our AMEX

3. Bank of America Platinum Visa (in my name), which I haven't used since we got our AMEX in July 2006 and keep around for an emergency

And ... my secret shame:
4. An Old Navy card (in my name) that I have never, ever used in my entire life - not even for the initial purchase because they messed up my application and sent the card to a wrong address (long story) - that I got when I was in college. I'm thinking of closing this one, but it was my first credit card and the only thing on my credit history the first time we tried to buy a car ... long story.

Anonymous said...

I could never understand why people need more than 1 credit card. It's good you're paying them off every month but still. Sheesh.

Fabulously Broke said...

Wow! 14! :) I have 3... but you and DH do pay it off every month, so that's a bonus

But don't you feel like your rewards are spread too thin across 14 cards?

JB said...

I agree with Anonymous... 14 is just too much to manage.... 2 credit cards is hard to manage. One is really all you should need. Maybe it's time for some spring cleaning?

Anonymous said...

I agree that fourteen cards are too many. Studies show that people spend more when paying with a credit card than when they're paying with cash. I know from personal experience that it's so easy to overspend when paying with a cc, especially when Christmas shopping.

We have gotten rid of a lot of cards over the years. Right now DH has a Golf Digest Master Card that he puts all his business expenses on ($1500-$3500/month) and for which he gets points to buy golf equipment. (He always gets a reimbursement check from his company before we have to pay the bill.) I have a card on this account, but I've never used it and don't carry it around. We have a joint Midwest Airlines Master Card that we earn miles on for our hometown airline. I have one Macy's card (used to be Marshall Fields before they bought out MF). I've used it maybe three times in five years.

Last year I canceled my AMEX which I'd had for fifteen years.

We try to use our VISA debit card for most purchases or write checks. I only use the Master Card for online purchases. After paying off all debt last year at this time, we both love, love, love not owing anything but our mortgage.


Rachel @ Master Your Card said...

I think that people should really only have 2 credit cards, one for online transactions and one for the rest. However, I must admit that I do not do this myself. I have one main card (which is my husbands account) that I use for everything. I have one I used to finance the bathroom that I aven't got round to cancelling. I have storecards for about 3 places, none of which I use.

Jim said...

I have 12 accounts and 4 have a balance, 4 others are closed but still show on my credit report. I plan to close 2 others because their lines are too small $500-1k and I just don't want them. The others I have were used for various finance plans. My wife only has maybe 6, 3 with a balance. By the end of April only 4 cards between the two of us, 2 each, will have a balance on them.

For instance Sears offers a 12 month no interest no payments at certain times in the year on appliances. Put the purchase on the card, pay the card off before 12 months is up, usually it's paid off much sooner. I have a card I used for jewelry and they offered no interest and divided up my payment into 3 or 6 months. These two no longer carry a balance but at times they're good to have around.

My bigger MC offers 3% cash back on everything. Since I'm trying to get out of debt I have stopped using this one until the balance on it is gone. I'm also not afraid to open a new account to surf a balance to a better interest rate like a 0% no fee balance transfer offer. The credit card companies got plenty of my money in interest over the years, I'd rather just pay off what I owe and not interest.

Once I'm out of credit card debt would I use a credit card ever again? Maybe, but I have to go back to my roots of paying off the balance in full every month or ensure I am not being charged interest. At the same time would I don't ever want to look at my credit card as a way to buy something I don't have the means to afford.

Living Almost Large said...

I honestly have no idea. I do not overspend on Credit Cards but it's just like a debit card. Chances are that I spend less than I would because I shop Fri-Sun.

Why more than one? Like I said, sometimes you never get around to cancelling them.

Actually Fabulous, we don't use half of the card or more so I probably should start cancelling the credit cards.

I just need to figure out which ones I need. I max out our rewards on a couple of cards, hence the need for more than one. Hey with a $300 cap, sometimes I hit that before mid year. And no it's not deliberate but you can't not pay some expenses.

And Universities don't give discounts for paying in cash. I called and said can I get 5% off for paying with cash. The lady on the phone said "We don't give anyone a discount." Nuff said. I'm not paying cash for $20-30k/year and instead of getting back 1-5%.

Living Almost Large said...

Barb1954, to address overspending at Christmas I've come up with a new strategy. It's seemed to have worked for 3 years now.

I buy everyone gift cards of certain denominations say $50 or $100. Yes it can be crass, but I justify it by saying we live 3-6k miles from any family. They don't need a real life gift, they get a card with an gc to a restaurant inside.

Tough. I am no longer trying to ship to hawaii (not many companies do it, especially not food and usually it rots like harry and david when i've tried). I can't ship internationally either.

So I make a Christmas Card, put a GC inside and wish them all well. No overspending cause I decided on a prespent amount.

Sadly I know it's horrible, but unless I'm seeing them and hauling my present I am not trying to pack stuff up and give them a gift.

Although one year I did donate to charity instead. A lot of family liked it, some didn't. Hence the GC now.

Cindy said...

I'm like you. We have a lot of credit cards, but only use three of them regularyly. The others we got for the 10 - 20 % discounts and other incentives. We also pay them off every month. I love getting the free points.

I'm thinking that one day I will cancel all the ones we don't use. Until then...I'll keep them stashed in our filing cabinet.

newproductreleases said...

i don't like credit cards. i use debit cards and paypal for shopping.