So, about the time I started Dimes to Dough, I had just signed up for a new credit card, my second credit card ever, an AMEX card. Years of 0% APR on my Citi Card had finally ran out, and I didn’t feel like negotiating for 0% APR again. So, I agreed to a seemingly nice 15 month no interest card from AMEX with a $200 cash back offer after spending $1000. I signed up with the intention of switching over any purchases from the Citi card to the AMEX, and paying off both as fast as possible.
It sounds hypocritical, doesn’t it? I’d never advise someone get a credit card, but here I was getting my second one. Logically, it made a lot of sense to get a second (to me, anyway). Why? So I could swiftly pay off my Citi card and avoid interest charges, while using the new AMEX to cover any emergencies and serve as a buffer. Seemed like an ideal plan given my circumstances. I knew I could pay them both off quick, but in reality I probably should have just paid off the Citi card and not bother to get a second one. Nevertheless, I went ahead and got it.
Did things work as planned? Absolutely. I’m credit card debt-free. Would that same strategy work for most people? Maybe, maybe not. There’s a lot of temptation in a card with a $15,000 credit limit. But, I managed to get both paid off right away and didn’t put myself any further into debt. Though when I really take a deep look at WHY I got that second card, and why I choose to keep the first, my reason is clear: I don’t want to hurt my credit score. That’s all it comes down to. It’s stupid!
I’m aware that canceling a revolving line of credit will hurt a credit score, and being I only had one revolving line of credit, I feared getting rid of it would have adverse effects on my score. At the same time, once my balance got up to about 20% of my credit limit, I worried that putting too much more on it would negatively impact my credit score, too. And it did. At one point I was at about 30% of my Citi card credit limit, and I noticed my scores drop on Credit Karma. Seeing my credit score go down is frustrating. So, after much back and forth, and just the right card offer arriving in the mail, I decided to jump on it. Horrible decision, and horrible rationale.
Anyways, regardless of my thought process, I’m now credit card debt-free. With two credit cards still in my pocket. And a paltry $1,000 emergency fund. I thought that being credit card debt free would feel a little different. It’s funny, I paid off the remaining balance and that was it. No congratulations from the credit card issuer, no fireworks across the payment screen, no “Nice job, Sam.” For a credit card company, it’s obviously bad business when an account holder has a zero balance. That means no interest is accruing, and no hope that I’ll forget to pay my monthly payment. I’m just an expense for the company now, who has to continue to manage my account, send me statements and continue to entire me to ice the card. But I’m not going back. Hopefully once my total debt is reduced a bit further and I have a much nicer cushion in my emergency fund I’ll start to breathe a little easier. But knocking off one debt with a bunch more still hanging over me didn’t feel as great as I’m told it’s supposed to feel.