Living with credit

Emily’s list: What’s in my wallet edition

Emily Crone

I think a peek into someone’s wallet says a lot about them. I realized I haven’t ever really stopped to share what’s in my wallet.

Beside the typical driver’s license and health insurance cards, I have many loyalty punch cards for local restaurants, my Austin Go Local card, my AAA card, my movie theater loyalty cards and a variety of other things like that.

retail-credit-cards.jpgI have a few random receipts stuffed here and there, and when I remember to get some, a little cash just to have some on hand.

Now to the good stuff. It may sound like I carry a lot of plastic, but I have each for a reason and use them all tactfully. I also like having a few different cards from a few different banks should something happen when I’m traveling; if one bank accidentally freezes my account thinking I’ve made a fraudulent purchase, I still have back-ups. Here’s what I have and why:

  • A Bank of America debit card. I’ve had a checking account with BofA since freshman year of college and have been relatively happy with it. I use this for all of my day-to-day purchases. I use this debit account whenever possible so that I don’t create unneeded debt.
  • A Capital One credit card. This card has no fluff — no reward miles or points. Just a basic credit card. I have it for the sole purpose of traveling abroad. I usually get out of the country at least once a year, and this baby prevents me from wasting money on foreign transaction fees. Capital One doesn’t charge these fees. The savings seriously add up!
    Capital One is also excellent with fraud support. Once my account was compromised, and Cap One contacted me and removed the charge immediately. Plus, when I was in Canada a few weeks ago, Cap One was concerned I made a fraudulent charge and within minutes, I was called and asked to verify that I made the purchase.
  • A Chase Continental business credit card. I fly with Continental Airlines (now United) whenever possible. I grew up in Houston, Continental’s hub, so that was the primary carrier we flew with. I opened up a OnePass account a long time ago, and every time I fly with them, my miles add up.
    A few years ago I got this credit card for my freelance writing business. I needed a business credit card anyway to keep track of expenses, and every dollar I spend earns me one OnePass mile (and I get double if I use the card to buy a Continental flight). I get discounts on office supplies and my first checked bag is free. I also get two free President’s Club passes every year on my card anniversary. I use this card on any possible business expense to earn miles.
    I’ve been hoarding miles and plan to use some of them on an international flight soon. My mom used to have the regular Continental credit card and used it on everyday purchases for a few years (and paid it off immediately). She ended up earning enough points to take herself, my brother, my sister and I to London and back!
  • A Bank of America WorldPoints credit card. This is the credit card I use for non-business and non-international purchases, i.e. everyday purchases. I use my debit card when I can, but if it’s at the end of the month, and I need to buy something before my next paycheck, or if I have an emergency large purchase to make and will need more time to pay it off, this is my go-to card.
    I earn one WorldPoint per dollar spent, so I often use this card for large purchases, even if I don’t have to, just to get points. Then I pay it off immediately. One of the redemption options is gift cards, which I nearly always choose.
    A few months ago, I cashed in my points for a $50 Whole Foods gift card. Free groceries! The time before, I got one for a nice restaurant and had a fancy dinner with my husband. There are many other reward options, such as travel, electronics and merchandise.
  • During my wedding planning, I opened up a new Bank of America checking account and had a separate debit card for that. It really helped with keeping wedding expenses separate and track-able. I highly recommend doing that for something major like a wedding!

What do you keep in your wallet? Your thoughts about what it should or shouldn’t contain may change when you check out this list of my favorite personal finance reads from the past week:

1. So Over Debt confesses that she got a new retail credit card but explains that she’s learned how to play the game and stay responsible.

2. Money Health Central discusses how developing a “side hustle” can be the key to paying off your debt faster.

3. Money Talks recommends how to avoid becoming a victim of lifestyle inflation — a situation in which you begin spending more on the cost of living, sometimes to the point where ends will no longer meet.

4. Money Spruce shares that she has been ripped off several times when traveling and shares several ways to prevent this from happening to you.

5. It’s possible to have a great time with the family without going broke. Free $ Wisdom lists 12 free summer activities for families.

6. Len Penzo explains why he chooses to run his household and finances like a business and how it could help you, too.

7. The sense of guilt you feel after a major credit card shopping spree can be terrible. Being Frugal explains how you can avoid experiencing buyer’s remorse.

8. Thousandaire reflects on a paid fantasy football service that he uses every year when there are free services available, and questions how many of us spend unnecessary money just because that’s how things have always been.

9. No Debt Plan discusses the benefit of hiring a financial planner and compares them to being the coast guard. Why sail solo in choppy waters if someone can help?

10. As someone who has recently started trying to cook more often, I can tell you that spices can be pricey. The Saved Quarter shares several ways to get cooking spices on the cheap.

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