Mr Credit Card’s Survey: My Personal Answers… And yours?

I just received this email from Mr Credit Card who asked me to share my answers with him for a report he is doing. Rather than just do that, I thought I would share my answers with all of you…

Mr Credit Card here. I am conducting a survey among personal finance,
investment bloggers about their credit cards and would appreciate if
you would participate in this survey. I would compile the results and
publish it in my blog

http://www.askmrcreditcard.com/creditcardblog/

and credit you and your site for participation. Below are the questions :

This kind of request could be great linkbait!… Anyway my answers!

1. How many credit cards do you have?

I currently have two credit cards in my wallet only. My wife has a dependent’s card on my primary account. Is this an average amount?

2. Which are the credit cards you have (please be specific about the actual cards – eg Amex blue cash or Chase Freedom)?

I don’t have any American cards at all: both cards are from local banks in Taiwan.

3. Do you have any credit card debt and if yes, how much?

I don’t currently have any amount of outstanding debt on either card. I do occasionally let a little amount ride over but I always regret it when I see the additional interest charges to be paid.

4. What is the apr you are paying?

If I have any outstandings, I’m informed that my APR would be 11.50% on that amount.

5. What is your average FICO score?

I don’t know. It’s not relevant in Taiwan.

6. Have you got any credit cards solely for balance transfer?

I’d like to, but banks here don’t do this to my knowledge.

7. If yes – which card?

N/A.

8. Do you charge your utilities, cable bills and internet bills etc to your credit card?

I only charge my mobile phone bill to my credit card because I usually pay most bills at 7-11.

9. Is your credit card bills set up such that it is automatically paid every month?

No, it isn’t. It should be. But I didn’t do it.

10. Do you use your credit cards at gas stations and supermarkets?

Gas stations – No. Supermarkets – Not regularly.

11. Which is your favorite credit card? (be specific, not visa or mastercard as an answer pls)

I prefer my Gold Card from Taishin Bank.

12. Which is your favorite credit card issuer? (banks, not visa or mastercard)

Citibank. But I don’t have one because they’re too fussy about financial details.

13. When did you get your first credit card? What was the card?

I had a credit card in University which undoubtedly was a mistake. I think it was a British card from Co-op but it was so long ago, I can’t remember.

I think there are several ways that I could really profit from using my credit card more, though. Reading these questions helped me think through the benefits.

I could charge all my gasoline to the card, and get bonus points. I could also charge almost all my larger purchases to it, and get an effectively interest free loan for the first 30 days or so. By putting that money in the bank, I could certainly earn 2.5% pa on my monthly expenses. There are also quite a few offers that my Credit Card company provide, some of which I could take advantage of.

What answers do my readers have to some of these questions? Share your answers in the comments.

February’s Credit Card Statement: NT$26,413 in 31 days!

Or in other words, how to break the bank!

My wife was standing over my shoulder last time I wrote my very uneventful credit card statement for January 2008. She said in pointed tones: “Who cares about your credit card spending?”… Well, of course, I do!

I usually include the credit card spending report for three reasons:

1. to encourage me to pay off the entire amount regularly;
2. to share with my readers different parts of my life, because each of my purchases has a story of some sort; and
3. to encourage readers to share their spending habits, so that we can all learn from our mistakes.

So here goes, February’s spending… And it isn’t pretty.

First, I racked up NT$26,413 worth of spending, some of related to our vacation in TaiChung and Tainan. Some of it related to business expenses. And some of it related to personal expenses.

Business Stuff
During Chinese New Year we reorganized our school space yet again. This enabled us to improve our computer resources, expand our library area a little and make things more customer friendly. But it entailed some expenses, of which NT$7082 involved a trip to the local Ikea, where we purchased a much-needed IKEA office chair, valued at nearly $5000 (est.). We’d been eyeing that chair for a while, but had passed on it several times due to its relative expense. Other little things included picture frames for the walls, and other knick-knacks.

Online Stuff
I purchased a link on Linkworth to increase link sales last week. It wasn’t particularly expensive at US$8.50 for a featured link for seven days. But it coincided with a long weekend in the US. And generated no responses at all. I won’t bother with that avenue again.

Personal Stuff
Somehow because we had nearly two weeks vacation at Chinese New Year, we really spent a lot more on clothes, vacations, and food! I spent NT$4119 buying two sweaters, two shirts, socks, underwear, and some other clothes for winter in Taichung. And Christine also spent NT$3924 on clothes and trainers for herself.

Then in IKEA we additionally spent another NT$2330 on house stuff: none of which I can remember right now. And on the first day of our holiday, we ate out at TienMou Mitzukoshi Department store in the Thai Restaurant on the top floor. The food was excellent, and the weather was AWFUL, so we were so happy to eat something hot, delicious, and spicy! That was NT$1667.

And I nearly forgot we spent a night at a hotel in Taichung, called The Splendor. The room was quite big, and view was excellent as you saw in the competition. Even the breakfast was great, but the price was nearly double the price we paid for a much more pleasant hotel. It cost NT$3589 for one night in a double room.

Regular Expenses
Our regular expenses included three items: our CIGNA life insurance policy, but no mobile phone bill (they now only bill every 2nd month), and our interest payment of NT$64. Yes, I did it again: I didn’t pay the entire amount. I underpaid NT$1364 this time, and it cost an extra NT$64. Wow!

So that’s February’s expenses on my credit card.

Credit Cards, Bank Accounts and Salaries Part 2

In this series, I’m looking at our changing attitudes to money, and answer the simple question: are we all credit card slaves now? Part 1 was yesterday: entitled¬†Where did our attitudes to money come from?

Credit Cards, Bank Accounts and Salaries

Suddenly from subsisting from week to week on wages became more challenging as we were all forced to wait four calendar weeks plus some for our paychecks. And wow! Didn’t it feel good having that much cash in your bank account? Didn’t it?

“You bet. And so, you’d splurge a little here and a little there. You’d write a few checks (‘cheques’ to all you Brits!) to buy the groceries, and hope the store didn’t cash them too early, or that the overdraft fee wasn’t too much. You’d be all right because payday was just a few days away anyway!”

When credit cards were first invented, they were primarily intended for luxury consumption for business travelers and ‘wealthy’ travelers, too. American Express, MasterCard, Visa, etc, Classic, Gold, Platinum, Clear cards

All were designed to create the impression of wealth. Unfortunately, the banks’ pursuit of profits above customers hastened the degrading of the higher value lines, while forcing banks to create ever new ‘brands’ at the premium or private finance end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, for ordinary consumers the presence of credit cards in your wallet went from a sign of wealth to a sign of status to a mere sign of credit worthiness.

Thereby, the credit card industry created a whole new language of ‘apparent’ wealth, where terms like independent income were replaced by disposable income; net worth became credit worth; rate of return became APR; and business deals became ‘transaction fees’. The whole language of wealth was corrupted in such a way that on graduation, students are now told to build your credit history, to check your credit ratings, and to manage your credit score successfully. What happened to building your wealth, checking your investments returns and managing your portfolio?

Has credit card ‘wealth’ affected your ability to build real wealth? Did you borrow too much or pay too much interest? I would love to hear your comments on this…