Why you need TWO credit cards
A backup can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
Recently I treated my daughter and son-in-law to sandwiches (using a coupon, of course). At the register I heard those words no one wants to hear: "I'm sorry, this card was declined."
I responded with the same words all the deadbeats use: "That can't be right. Run it again."
He did, and it was declined again. Face aflame, I paid with a different card. (Yes, I could have paid cash but I use credit cards for the rewards. And ever since I got out of divorce debt I have paid my balances in full each month.) When I got home I called to ask why my plastic had been declined -- and the answer was also one of those things that no one wants to hear.
"There's been a breach," the customer service rep said. It seems that a bunch of credit card transaction info had been swiped from a local business. The good news was that no one had used my card. The bad news was that I'd have to wait for a new one.
That's why I think everyone should have two credit cards. Suppose I'd been on vacation and about to rent a car at the airport, only to find that my only card had been canceled?
No, we shouldn't rely on plastic. In a perfect world, we'd never buy more than we could afford to pay for in cash. But credit cards make some things -- renting a car, getting a hotel room -- a lot easier. Some people who've figured out how to play the system can really make credit rewards programs work for them.
Besides, this world ain't perfect. Twice in my life I have had sudden crises regarding seriously ill family members in other states, and had to fly out within hours. On another occasion I became ill while traveling and had to go to the emergency room; after treatment, I needed a place to sleep until my rebooked flight the next afternoon.
Credit cards helped me handle all three emergencies. Had my card suddenly been canceled, could I have managed? In the first two cases, probably (although the last thing I needed was to waste time with extra planning); in the latter case, maybe not.
Please note: I am not advocating getting a ton of cards and using them with reckless abandon. I just think that you should have more than one option. We can't predict illness or other crises. Or security breaches.
Originally published March 25, 2009
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Preteens, rejoice. The grown-ups have a compelling reason to consider getting you a tablet this year. Adults, listen up.