Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Just put it on my card

July 4, 2001

I recently found out something about myself that has changed my entire outlook on life.

It wasn't something I was looking for. Like most personal revelations, it just came to me out of the blue.

I have slow credit.

That is not to be confused with having bad credit. Slow credit, as the mysterious people who create credit reports will tell you, does not mean you've done anything wrong. It simply means you have not taken full advantage of the buy-now-pay-later way of life. And believe me, there are consequences to such actions.

I was 18-years-old when I got my first credit card. I still remember the day it arrived. I pulled it out of the envelope and I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It was a small, shiny, plastic piece of pure spending power.

The credit card company didn't extend itself too much, limiting my credit line to $500. Looking back, I can't say that I blame them. However, $500 was all I needed for a fun-filled Saturday at the mall.

By the end of the day, I was worn out and the card was maxed out.

I spent the next 12 months making the minimum payment of $15 or so. Before long, the geniuses at the credit card company raised my limit to $1,000. I was much more prudent this time, taking at least a couple of months before hitting the limit.

I was 19-years-old, in college and $1,000 in debt. As it became increasingly difficult to make the monthly payments, I finally broke down and confessed all to my parents. They did the parent-like thing and helped me pay it off but not before giving me a crash course in the dangers of credit cards.

I took the lesson seriously and vowed never again to fall into the credit card trap. From that moment on, it was pay-as-you-go for me. I kept a credit card for things like hotel rooms and rental cars, but I refused to use it for anything else. I thought I was the model of responsible spending.

That's why it came as a complete shock to me to find out that I have worse credit than 71 percent of the rest of America, or as they put it, better credit than 29 percent of the rest of America.

I had never sent away for a credit report, so when the opportunity to get one for free came up, I jumped on it. I couldn't wait to see all the wonderful things it would say about me.

I completed all the necessary questions and hit the send button on my computer. Three minutes later (technology is amazing), I had a complete history of my financial life (technology is scary).

There was the payment history on a vehicle that has since been used up and put to rest. There was a seven-year payment history on my student loan, which never seems to get any smaller. And there was an instant rating on my credit condition.

The scale went from very poor to excellent. There I was, smack in the middle at fair.

I was shocked and, frankly a little hurt. I took a closer look, in search of any noticeable blemishes. There were none.

Reading on to the analysis portion of the report, I learned I was being penalized for not having enough credit cards and for not using the ones I do have frequently enough.

The report indicated that I would have a difficult time getting the "prime" interest rates on future credit cards, car loans, etc. unless I changed my spend thrifty ways.

So, I guess it's back to the mall for me. I am going to shop until the credit card companies offer me money every month to take their cards. So much for parental advice. I can't wait to tell dear old Mom and Dad that I was heading in the right direction until they interfered.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.