The Power of Plastic

2 minute read

Ok, I’ll break the trend of titling my posts with questions. As promised, on to my first financial post…

About a week ago I went into a store to buy some merchandise. I stumbled onto some great deals and ended up finding a great reversible belt, dress shirt, killer shades, and high-ball glasses. I was already to go and pay with my new credit card, but…. It didn’t work. I swiped it again…no luck. It had seemed as though my credit limit had finally caught up to me. I thought to myself, “ Ok, no worries, I have my visa check card to bail me out!” It didn’t work either?!? I was flabbergasted, millions of thoughts were racing through my head, nothing like this had ever happened to me. When the cashier asked me if she should cancel my order, I was totally embarrassed and skulked out of the store empty handed.

I started making some phone calls immediately after I reached the privacy of my own car. I wasn’t so surprised when the people at Chase told me that I had surpassed my eight hundred dollar limit by 78 cents. I know this is my first credit card but eight hundred dollars! Come on, am I still in middle school? The previous week I was denied a request to increase my limit to two thousand dollars. Yet the only things in my credit report were two college loans totaling less than seven thousand and I am told federal loans don’t affect credit. I also have recently graduated from college and there is a possibility that they may not of had this reflected in their records. Anyhow the denial was not too surprising, the credit crunch has tightened available credit for everyone including credit card companies. But get this, during that same call I was informed that I had a special offer. I was offered a Chase Platinum Visa with a credit limit of $7,500. I quickly accepted. After receiving my card in the mail I consolidated it and then had it canceled. Now my Virginia Tech card which had an $800 limit now has a limit of $8,300.

Example of Virginia Tech Credit Card

When I reached home I called United Bank to find out what went wrong with my Check Card. Someone from their fraud protection team informed my they had frozen my account because I received a suspected fraudulent charge for $9.35. Criminals like these sometimes charge a small initial fee and when they find out your account works they go for a bigger chunk. I canceled my card and went to the branch office the next day. I filled out a fraud affidavit and got sent a new credit card, unfortunately it takes ten day to receive it. I recently got reimbursed for the $9.35 that was stolen. Credit card and debit card fraud is a big deal, it happens to thousands of people every year and costs billions of dollars. The criminals who commit these crimes are hard to find and rarely get prosecuted. United Bank outsources its fraud investigations to a third party. I will be pleasantly surprised if I am ever contacted of the results of the investigation. I have learned that owning plastic can be quite powerful but with it comes with inherent risks.

Other fun credit card facts:

  • It is difficult to pay mortgages with credit cards

  • The black American Express does exist, unfortunately American Express is not accepted everywhere you want to be

  • I can’t wait when the day comes when we can pay for all our goods using biometric scanners!